Learning How to Practice Peace
Students will learn a process for managing conflict and repairing and sustaining relationships.
- Gather students into a circle, either seated in chairs or on the floor. Remind students about the raised-hand attention signal and the talking piece.
- Welcoming: Circle time always begins with everyone being welcomed into the circle. Model welcoming a student and then have each student welcome the student sitting next to them. Be sure to rotate who sits where so students introduce different classmates. Example: “Hello Bella, welcome to our circle!” (Optional: create a new greeting every week. For example, using a small ball or bean bag, have students toss the object to each other once they greet a student, then the student with the object greets the next student, etc.)
- Once every student has been welcomed, retrieve the talking piece.
- SEL Focus: Tell students that today during our circle time we are going to learn a peace practice for keeping our friendships and relationships strong and healthy.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling(10 minutes)
- Share that today we will be learning five steps to practicing peace. Ask students if they know what “conflict” means. Have students share their answers.
- Ask them to give examples of what they've done in the past to resolve conflicts.
- Tell students that today they will learn a five-step process for practicing peace and supporting friendships in our classroom.
- Introduce Step 1: Stop & Breathe. Write it on chart paper and say: “When you sense you are feeling upset, before you say or do something that may be unkind to someone else, stop and breathe. Doing this will help calm you down.” Ask students if they have questions about this step and answer their questions.
- Introduce Step 2: Find The Teacher. Write it down on chart paper and say: “Let the teacher know that you need to do the peace practice with a classmate.” Answer any questions and share that when students get really good at practicing peace they will be able to lead each other in this practice instead of the teacher. Also mention that sometimes we may not be able to do this whole peace practice right away, but you promise that it will happen as soon as it can so hurt feelings don’t grow.
- Introduce Step 3: Sit Together and Share Appreciations. Write it down on chart paper. Acknowledge that this may be hard, but it’s important for students to see the good in their classmates. To do step 3, they must sit down with their teacher and share two positive things about the other person. Answer any questions.
- Introduce Step 4: Share Why You Are Hurt. Write it down on chart paper. Instead of saying “You hurt me," encourage students to use "I" messages. Practice taking responsibility for feelings without blaming another as a class. For example: "I feel ____ (feeling) when you ____ (action) because ____ (reason)."
- Introduce Step 5: Ask For Support and Try To Make Things Right. Write this down on chart paper. Explain that this very important step involves asking for support and reflecting on what needs to be done to make things right. Answer questions that may arise.
Guided Practice(15 minutes)
- Now model the five step process with a student volunteer to emphasize how to have this sensitive conversation with multiple exchanges.
- Step 1: Stop & Breathe. Model taking a few mindful breaths and calming yourself down.
- Step 2: Find The Teacher. Share the importance of letting you know when conflict arises (Optional: you may want to have a notebook where students can write down when they feel hurt or a conflict arises and you check it during your prep period, lunch, or end of the day).
- Step 3: Sit Together and Share Appreciations. Emphasize that these appreciations aren’t things like “You are cool,” but are specific qualities they have observed about the other student. For example: “I really appreciated how you came in early before the bell rang and started putting down the chairs for all of your classmates without even being asked. That was very thoughtful.”
- Step 4: Share Why You Are Hurt. Use an example like, “I felt sad because you said you would change our class jobs this week, but you didn’t and I feel I need to know I can count on you."
- Step 5: Ask For Support and Try To Make Things Right. In this step, the person who feels hurt shares what support they need and then the other person expresses what they think they can do to make things right. For example, a student may say, “I need your support because right now I’m feeling like when someone says they will do something but don’t, it makes me feel I can’t trust them.” Then you could model, “I’m sorry that I forgot to change our class jobs this week, and you had to be floor sweeper twice in a row. I can see how me not keeping my word affected you. To make things right, today after school I will change the class jobs.”
- Take time to answer student questions about the five steps. Share that they will use this process when conflicts happen.
- Note: This process may not be appropriate in very serious situations. Use your judgement as a teacher. When emotions are high, it's best to wait until things calm down before practicing these five steps.
Independent working time(10 minutes)
- Have the students remain in a circle.
- In pairs, have students make up a conflict scenario and practice the five steps with multiple exchanges of feelings, referencing those feelings, and then offering a solution. Provide the following sentence starters for help with the discussion:
- "I felt ____ because ____ "
- "I know you said you felt..."
- "I can see how..."
- "To make things right,..."
- Make sure students have clear roles to play as they practice the five step process. For example, decide which student is expressing their hurt feeling.
- Ask students to build on their partners' comments during the conversation and role playing. For example, "I know you said you felt upset. I can see how forgetting to say hello made you feel sad. To make things right, I will say hi to you now."
- Guide students through each step during the role play.
- Enrichment: Advanced students may serve as peacemakers, helping students resolve conflicts in the classroom and guiding them through the five-step process.
- Support: Struggling students may need to be paired with the teacher or teacher’s aide initially and have the steps broken down even further.
- Have students complete the Practicing Peace worksheet after independent work time to close out the acivity. Allow them to share their ideas with a partner before writing them down.
- When students are role playing, circle around the room to check for understanding.
Review and closing(5 minutes)
- Review all five steps again.
- Field any student questions.
- Have students share one takeaway from learning this practice. Ask students to build on the presenters' comments during the sharing portion to highlight common and differing thoughts.
- Post chart paper with "Practicing Peace" steps in the classroom.