Forum 4.1

This forum is a place for you to share your takeaways and learnings from week 4 – Transforming Conflict Nonviolently.

In the comment section of this page, please respond to following three questions:

  1. What is one takeaway or learning you had from the phone conversation with your learning partner this week? It can be something your partner shared with you or your own idea that the conversation helped you flesh out.
  2. What was your experience like with this week’s daily peace action? Is this is action that you could see incorporating into your personal life, your teaching, or with your students? If so, how?
  3. What is one quote from any of the readings or videos that you find particularly relevant or motivational for your teaching and education work?
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27 thoughts on “Forum 4.1

  1. My partner must have been on vacation.

    This particular daily peace action made my think of quote the “glass being half full instead of have empty”. Humans always focus on the negative and forget about all of their blessings. What went well makes us reflect on some positive things that happened throughout the day. Its a breathe of fresh air and I plan on continuing to use all of the daily peace actions. The daily peace actions relaxes the mind body and soul. Us peace educator should pass these peace actions to our staff, family and friend. They are effective for me personally.

    I really enjoy the peace circle in West Philadelphia, everything that we’ve learned thus far goes hand in hand. Early in the course we learned that having rows inside of a classroom could be ineffective and not very engaging. Just by placing the students in a circle caused for effective communication and a complete turn around to that schools atmosphere. It helps resolve conflict. With conflict resolution skills and peace, the world be a completely different place. It is very motivational for me because I fell victim to having rows because the lack of space. It makes me think that I could possibly be a highly effective teacher instead of an effective teacher if I make that one change inside of my classroom.

  2. 1. I really enjoyed hearing Shawanda speak about the meaningful experience she had with the active listening exercise to sit in silence for 3 minutes and count all of the things she could hear. It is an interesting exercise in thinking about how to be a better listener as well as self-awareness and awareness of our surroundings. I think it would be fun to do this exercise with a group of students and see how similar or different their lists are.

    2. I loved this week’s peace action. I am definitely planning on incorporating this into a week-long training that we are holding next month and even suggesting that our volunteer facilitators use it in their classroom next year. It is such a wonderful exercise in self-awareness, daily life reflecting, as well as appreciation of ones self and all the positive forces in our lives. It’s so easy to focus on what is not going well, what is stressing us out, etc. — it’s so wonderful to take a moment and reflect on what is working, what makes you happy, etc.

    3. I was really inspired by the concept of the “principled negotiator” and Gandhi’s use of it:
    “When he was in jail in South Africa, Gandhi ‘separated the people from the problem’ by making sandals for the man responsible for imprisoning him, and during the struggle for India’s independence, he sent Princess Elizabeth (later Queen of England) a beautiful teacloth that he himself had woven.”

    Gandhi’s example is of course so inspirational and unbelievable when he was facing/fighting such difficult and huge systemic change — but I think this can be applied to smaller problems in our daily lives. I think that if I focus on the problem more, rather than the person that I perceive to be causing the problem, I will be much more open to seeing solutions. I really love the focus on creativity and and openness in this approach:
    “At times, we are unable to see creative alternatives because we are locked into a particular style. The secret is to free ourselves enough to take charge of our responses.”

    This approach and the idea of “freeing” ourselves make me think about all the research out there about the negative physical/health impacts that stress can have on our lives/bodies over time. There have been several topics and readings that have come up in this class that have reminded me of that and that it is so important to be kind to ourselves. If we do not find ways to let go and “free ourselves” and find positive solutions (rather than clinging to anger toward one person), then we will do hard to our bodies and minds over time. I really want to commit to this approach.

    • I love the shout out to Gandhi and his practice of nonviolence. This was adopted and integrated into the Civil Rights Movement and became one of the 6 principles of Kingian Nonviolence: “Attack Forces of Evil, Not Persons Doing Evil. Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not individuals. Dr. King said that the Civil Rights movement and the issue of segregation was not an issue between white people and black people, but an issue between justice and injustice.”

      • beautiful. thank you for sharing. so many amazing people in our history, so many inspiring stories, so many great tools out there — so little time! 😉
        I’m so glad I’m taking this class.

  3. 1. It was great talking to Pam, who shared a lot of my concerns as far what kinds of conflicts we dealt with at school. We even shared the same conflict style when it came to dealing with disagreements with our administration. We are avoiders, as a lot of teachers we know have grown to be, almost out of self-preservation.

    2. “what went well” is a great daily practice that allows me to orient myself toward the positive things that are occurring every day. I intend to incorporate it regularly into my daily life, as I have been for the past six months, I find it especially useful to do this after a hard day that was overshadowed by negativity. This past friday I had a pretty miserable travel day coming back from Missouri but I forced myself to see the good things that I can be grateful for. I can see my students using this as a reflection on challenging short term project. Prompting them to look at the bright side even though there may have been frustrations.

    3. I thought the video featuring Peace Circles at West Philadelphia High School was very inspiring, and I hope that a conflict resolution method like this can be widespread adopted by DCPS. I would very much like to see my entire school adopt this as the method for diffusing conflicts at the school, and it was reassuring the hear the principal of the West Philadelphia high school say that if it can work there, it can work for any urban school. How important it is to have an outlet for students to peaceably resolve their conflicts! This ties into the care for the whole child/social and emotional education that Daniel Goleman advocated.

    • Well, Alex, you have a lot of allies to integrate such a program. I highly recommend checking out the Latin American Youth Center’s work with restorative justice and talking circles. This is a dream that can become a reality at your school.

  4. Thank you, Alexandra. As we discussed our conflict styles and this week’s peace actions, she shared how she maintains a daily journal of “what went well” (and gratitude) reflections. I am motivated to do the same.

    I especially appreciated this week’s peace action. It caused me to reflect and see the good…the successes even on somewhat challenging days. That action felt encouraging and motivated me to focus on better todays and tomorrows.

    The one quote I found particularly relevant was by William Zartman, found in the University for Peace Glossary of Peace and Conflict Terms,
    “Conflict is an inevitable aspect of human interaction, an unavoidable concomitant of choices and decisions… The problem, then, is not to court the frustrations of seeking to remove inevitability but rather of trying to keep conflicts in bounds.”

    This quote reminds me that is okay to disagree. That the beauty of life lies in the variety of options at our disposable…choices in food, attire, opinions/philosophies, etc. My goal as a teacher is to help students actively and reflectively listen, find merit in exposure to the unknown and agree to disagree.

  5. After talking to Alex, I found that I was a bit more connected to the “dirty dozen” than I had previously realized and that thankfully I was not alone in having learned some relatively unhealthy ways of communicating and managing conflicts that I am now working to undo. I was also able to think more broadly about conflict and see it in a less compartmentalized manner as a result of our conversation and this weeks material. This weeks focus on conflict resolution challenged my thinking regarding not only resolving conflict, but for understanding and interpreting it as well. I had always viewed conflict as innately negative, but now see it in a much less static way. Conflict can be great, and can yield tremendous growth. The challenge is to manage and learn from conflicts rather than allowing them to fester or shutting down the other party with aggression, passive or overt.

    • Hello, Courtney. I am happy to hear that you no longer view conflict as something that needs to be resolved, necessarily. In fact, conflict is sometimes necessary for needed and important change to occur.

  6. 1. I had a great conversation with Cass. We went through this week’s readings and videos. First, I want to bring up that both of us enjoyed this course! We found this class help us to be more aware of ourselves. We believe we have to learn it ourselves well and then better deliver it to our students. As both Cassandra and I teach kids about 5–7 years old, we believe setting up a good model for that age group is very important, because that age group kids tend to copy others. A good role model is the key. We also talked about the importance of being an active listener, as we tried some of the ways to practice listen better. Cassandra tried the Mixer, where she sat down in a restaurant. She tried to hear sounds around her and amazingly she could hear the others’ conversation, talking about what food they want to get, and the sound of AC, and glasses. As I tried it in my classroom, where students had a free explore. I tried to hear what they were doing and talking about. I heard small talks like “you want to build a skyscraper with me?” or “let’s read together” or “stop!”. Interestingly, it allows me to be aware of where the conflict is and what they were playing or if they were having a good time. We both enjoyed this practice. We also talked about the Imessage and how to become to better listeners. We agree that kids need someone to hear their voice just like adults. When we are frustrated, we need some support and sometimes, just a patient listener. We agree that we will give more time to kids to listen how they feel.

    2. The daily peace action is very positive again! As Dr. Cambridge suggested, we should go back to our early readings and practices to better understand the messages in this course. I found the connections through our daily practice. I realized it is a sery of practice, which goes further after one and another. We started from meditation, which allows us to calm down and try to be peaceful. It is about learning ourselves. Then we tried to make others laugh. It is about giving. Third, we wrote gratitude letters. It is about understanding and expressing. Then till this week, we tried to be aware of feeling good about ourselves by writing down what goes well. It is a positive reflection, making us to focus on our achievement and how to make us even better; better of knowing ourselves as well as better teaching.

    3. One quote I love is “Conflict is a fact of lie, sometimes destructive and bad, at other times constructive and good”. The reason I love it because it broads my mind of viewing certain concept. When we give a definition of something, we turn to read it and then believe what it is as it wrote. For example, when the word conflict jumps into my mind, it is negative and all I think is to fight. However, this quote makes me explored the wider meaning of conflict. Yes, other times, if we solve conflict well, it can be constructive and fulfilling. I also enjoyed the author brought up the the meaning of crisis in Chinese. In Chinese, we translate as two words, which are risk and opportunity. I never really thought of it until reading this article. As it has dual meaning, while taking risk, there is hidden opportunity. Then we do we have to only focus on the “dangerous” side? Again, it reconnects me with the past week’s readings– the positive psychology. In short, I love how well-connected our classes are! It allows me to better see the start, the process and the end.

    • Hello, Miao. I really appreciate the way in which you have seen the sequencing of the daily peace actions and how they tie in with the various stages of this course. I am also glad that this week has helped you view conflict in a new way. That can be quite “liberating” as Cady mentions in her post above.

  7. My learning partner this week was Courtney. It was great to pick her brain about a number of different teaching topics. Since this week’s work focused on conflict resolution, I asked her how she deals with parent teacher conflicts. Her advice is to have an open dialogue between the student’s parents and oneself. She said that you shouldn’t just talk to parents when things are going poorly but you should also communicate when things are going well. Also, her advice was to tell parents of problems in the early stages, before the problem gets to be a bigger problem and therefore harder to solve. As a future teacher I’m not looking forward to dealing with angry parents, so getting advice from a professional is always nice.

    I liked the daily peace action. It allowed me to take a look at my day and remember the parts and pieces that worked and what did not work. This allowed me to think of ways of duplicating the things that worked in my day and then working on the things that did not go so well. I feel this daily peace action can be applied into my future teaching practice in that, I can have students self-assess their work on a project, test or homework assignment. I will ask them what they did well, what they feel they need to improve on and how can I help them improve. I feel that in this way a student will have their own road map for their own success.

    The quote that stood out for me this week comes from the reading about Waging Peace in Our Schools, in that chapter the author describes conflict as an escalator. The higher you go on the escalator the more feelings become attached to the conflict, “The higher we go on the escalator, the closer we come to violence, and the harder it is to come down.” I had never thought of conflict like that before. Based on past experience when feelings become attached to a conflict there is a high potential for things to “go nuclear” and destructive. But if feelings are set aside and the conversation is peaceful there is a much greater likelihood of reaching a peaceful and better solution to the problem. I can apply this to my educational practice because if I understand and look at conflict like this I can be mindful of where on the escalator I am.

    • Hi, Alex. I am glad to hear that you are getting valuable professional advice from Courtney. As I said during the conference call, that is where most of the learning will emerge in this course – peer to peer.

      Secondly, I am glad that you picked out the quote on the conflict escalator because I have used this analogy quite a bit when I have facilitated conflict resolution workshops. But recently I have been thinking about this idea of the “peace” escalator. How do we engage in actions that escalate peace and make us more attached to nonviolent approaches to conflict.

  8. My learning buddy this week was Cady. It was a pleasure speaking with Cady. I truly can hear her passion for peace incorporated in education. Our conference call focused on how the conflict styles that we considered ourselves to be were interesting. Cady thought her conflict style was collaborative, because of the type of work she does and working long distance people have to collaborate to accomplish the goals set out. My conflict styles were compromising and accommodating. We both thought that the 5 skills for great listening will inspire students as well as ourselves to focus on what is important with the lesson in order to comprehend the lesson using great listening skills.

    My experience with the daily peace action was touching to my soul. I enjoyed writing my family and friends this week. I’m getting use to expressing my feelings and sharing my most inner thoughts of how I’m grateful for them. The release process feels great to the heart, soul, and mind. I’m going to plan on using this activity in my personal life and my students in the classroom. In the classroom, we will use it as a writing activity to express how we are grateful. We would create a gratitude ritual where the students will have to complete one act daily to show how they are grateful.

    One quote from the video was from 5 ways to become a better listener. The quote was “Sonority is time and meaning”, by Jean Luc Nancy. I can see implementing this quote in the class because we are not listening how we use to. I can focus more on my students by implementing the 5 listening skills in the classroom these skills will help me become a better listener and improve on managing how to incorporate listening in my schedule of other things. I could benefit from being a careful listener to detail of sound in my surroundings.

    • Hi, Shawanda. I am glad that you are enjoying the daily peace actions. Showing gratitude to others, particularly if it is a sustained act and becomes part of our natural way of being can most certainly escalate peace. Also, I am glad you enjoyed the 5 Ways to Listen Better TED talk. One thing I wish we could have done in the class, but were unable to because of it being online, is an exercise I facilitate looking at different listening styles. Students are assigned a particular listening style (ones with which we are all familiar) and they act them out. We then do a “last listener standing” type game and the students who are in the audience, observing the different listening styles decide who of all the listeners should get eliminated and why. Its a great way for students to recognize what kind of listening style they commonly use and whether or not its something that leads to effective communication.

  9. One takeaway I had from my conversation with Maio is that conflict is a fact of life and it’s unavoidable. She talked about how the Chinese symbols of “crisis” mean danger and opportunity, which reminds me that in times of crisis and/or conflict there are opportunities for growth and progress and, at the same time, opportunities for stagnation and regression. By learning and internalizing the skills to handle crisis/conflict, I am setting myself and my students up for success.

    I found it beneficial to focus on what went well especially when I was not having a good day. The activity altered how I thought about my day because I was searching for the positive. Even when things that did not go well crossed my mind, I pushed them aside and did not waste my time over-thinking them. I found it tricky to think about why what I’d chosen to write about went well and I realized that the good outcome was due, mostly, to my own actions and decisions. It was a valuable reminder that my actions and decisions, whether positive or negative, affect the way I view things that happen throughout my day. I could see how incorporating this activity in my classroom would benefit students. It requires students to reflect, makes students think about positive events, helps students to acknowledge events that were not so positive, and identify reasons why the event was positive. Students could also be asked to reflect about something specific, such as their interactions with others, their academic learning, their participation, their behavior, ect, which might help to focus their thoughts.

    As usual, choosing just one quote is impossible.
    “While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.” (St. Francis of Assisi) and “My optimism rests on my belief in the infinite possibilities of the individual to develop nonviolence. The more you develop it in your own being, the more infectious it becomes till it overwhelms your surroundings and by might oversweep the world.” (Ghandi) These quotes are relevant to my teaching because they remind me that if I do not incorporate conflict resolution and peace in my life, I will not be successful in teaching my students how to use conflict resolution and live a peaceful life.

    “Whenever a teacher responds to one student, 20 or 30 others learn a lesson.” This reminds me that I am always a model for my students and, as such, must model the behaviors that I want to see in them.

    “feeling vocabularies are often limited and often describe feelings inaccurately” This quote reminds me of the importance of teaching my students about feelings, how to identify their own feelings, and how to express their feelings.

    “conscious listening creates understanding” This quote reminds me of the importance of teaching my students how to listen. Conscious listening is not just important for their academic learning, but also for developing strong relationships, being successful in their careers, and resolving conflicts.

    • So many good things to comment on here. Let me mention just a couple. First, the what went well exercise is great to connect to the concept of the conflict escalator. That whole analogy essentially asks parties to a conflict to identify what they did that made the conflict escalate so that they can be more aware next time to not repeat those same actions/choices. So I see some valuable connections there. Secondly, I love all the quotes that you pulled, particularly the one about how teachers model behavior. This is something that Miao mentioned from your conversation and is definitely something for us all to keep in mind as teachers and educators.

  10. What went well for me this week, seeing my mother and traveling somewhere that at night you can actually hear crickets at night. There I can get my “silence” if need to be. Taking my nieces and my son to the park to let them play and enjoy each others innocence is priceless. I could definitely use this in my classes as a beginning or end of the week warmup. I plan on putting this into my curriculum.

    The quote is funny because Nona chose the same one by Goleman,”Education is essential and is a necessary platform but is not sufficient for success and outstanding performance. What distinguishes you or an individual is how you manage yourself and how you handle your relationships.” So is education everything? Goleman always states ideas that really makes you think about education, your classroom, and where we are going as an district in education. Can we just teach, do the thing we love to do and not have all the extras that the are requiring us to do that is not teaching?

    • Hi, Tina. I too had a great week watching my 1.5 year olf daughter play with her 5 year old cousin. And you are totally right! It is wonderful to see them play and enjoy each other’s innocence.

      Secondly, your Goleman quote reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from the book, Ethics for the New Millennium by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He writes, “There is nothing amazing about being rich; there is nothing amazing about being highly educated. Only when the individual has a warm heart do these attributes become worthwhile.”

      • I love that quote from the Dalai Lama. It provides such a contrast to what’s held up in American popular culture.

  11. 1) After talking with Nona, I’d like to try a Socratic Seminar in my class. We were talking about ways to build class rapport. I think of building community as a means of preventing conflict. (I know that we read this week that conflict is normal and not bad but in classrooms, I tend to think of one kind of conflict as behavioral issues). She gave me some tips, such as that initially the kids might not talk much in a Socratic Seminar, but once they get used to it, it works and helps to build rapport. I’d like to try it in teaching the book, Enrique’s Journey, about a Honduran boy who tries to cross the U.S.-Mexico border to find his mother in the U.S. It’s an emotional story that I’ve taught one time already, but I’d like to see the students taking more leadership in discussing it.
    2) This weeks peace action was one of my favorites. One of the themes that arose for me is that I’m good at reaching out to people–extending social invitations–and thus making sure that I don’t get isolated. Writing about what went well seems to be a different twist on what I do anyway during the school year. I keep a reflective journal about my teaching. I write in it every couple of days. I often discuss something that went well at school and why. Sometimes I go back and read journal entries about good things that happened because I’ve heard that our brains tend to be wired to focus on negative things and we can retrain them to focus more on positive things. I would like to apply What Went Well in my classes.
    3) I’m interested in trying peacemaking circles in my class. This quote stood out for me: “In schools [peacemaking circles] create a positive classroom climate and resolve behavior problems.” I’m game for any tool that helps to resolve behavior problems! I think students feel that I’m good at respecting them, but it’s not always the case that everyone in my class respects each other. I want to find ways to support respect between students.

    • Hi, Mary Ann. First off, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Second, I love that you are writing out your ideas for next semester and sharing them with us and that there is peer to peer sharing going on between you and Nona from your conversation. I also think that talking circles can work not just as a way to resolve conflict, but just facilitate respectful discussion around contentious or complex issues. So, for example, I could see some really powerful dialogue happening around the book Enrique’s Journey using the talking circle process. I HIGHLY recommend getting your self a copy of, “The Little Book of Circle Processes.” It is a great primer into various way to use the circle process.

      http://www.amazon.com/Little-Book-Circle-Processes-Peacebuilding/dp/156148461X

  12. One takeaway that I got from my learning partner is her endorsement that conflict can be good or bad. Even though our experience going through the process may be bad the outcome of the situation when resolved may be good. We both came to the consensus that the conflict style in a situation is totally dependent on the setting. We would under no condition use the “Avoiding Style” in the classroom. The collaborating and compromising styles would be most suitable for the classroom setting.
    It took me a while to figure out “What Went Well” for me this week; thanks to my discussion with Mary. I shared with her that I have read most chapters of The Kite Runner with my students in three weeks. It was a task I thought quite insurmountable, but am happy that my students will complete the summer school class knowing that they can add one more novel and its thematic ideas to their reading log.
    The social emotional video that focuses on the I- Message and Active listening in which Daniel Goleman gave his remark that embraces the idea that the socio-emotional aspect of an individual’s life take precedence over education. Goleman says, “Education is essential and is a necessary platform but is not sufficient for success and outstanding performance. What distinguishes you or an individual is how you manage yourself and how you handle your relationships.” This statement holds a lot of truth and needs to be taken into consideration by those in authority to mold young minds in the educational setting of our society today.

    • Hi, Nona. It makes me happy to hear that you have read most of the Kite Runner with your students in just three weeks. The follow up question is, of course, then what did you do that made this happen? And then how can those actions, strategies, etc. be strengthened and applied again in the future?

  13. Pingback: Week 4 – Transforming Conflict Nonviolently (Summer 2013) | Peace Learner

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