A Forum To Share Best Practices
What Happened at PS 69 Bronx After Conflict Resolution Education
P.S. 69 is an elementary school in the Soundview section of the Bronx with a population of approximately 500 students. The community is mostly Latino with 71 percent of families from Latin American countries. We have approximately 23 percent African American children, 4 percent Asian, and 2 percent Caucasian. The change in the achievement levels of students in reading and mathematics has been dramatic over the past three years with double digit increases in scores. In three short years, the scores rose as follows: in grade 4 the scores increased in reading 32 percent to 75 percent; in mathematics, the scores increased from 43 percent to 78 percent. For grade 3, our reading scores increased from 33 percent to 55 percent reading at or above grade level; in mathematics the increase was from 28 percent to 63 percent. We fully expect that the scores for the 2006-2007 school years will continue to increase! Establishing a culture of collaboration, mutual respect, and cooperation set the stage and tone for this success. It has enabled effective decision-making around needs of the school, professional development, the implementation of constructivist teaching practices, and school policy.
While Director of Student Support Services at District 8 in the Bronx, I successfully implemented The Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP) throughout the elementary and junior high schools in the District. Peer Mediation teams and Peer Leadership teams were established in every school. My vision when I came to P.S. 69 was to educate both the minds and the hearts of all the children. P.S. 69’s assistant principal Sheila Durant shares this vision and is knowledgeable and supportive of the initiative over the past three years. As a former special education teacher, she fully appreciates the importance of social and emotional learning and has actively facilitated through her leadership and daily contacts. The workshop model methodology is expanded to reader’s and writer’s workshops, where independence and collaboration are expected.
RCCP began in 1985 as a collaboration of the New York Public Schools and ESR Metro, currently serving 5000 teachers and 150,000 young people in 350 schools nationwide.
A recently completed study of RCCP, revealed that compared with children who had little or no exposure to the curriculum, children receiving substantial RCCP instruction from their classroom teachers developed more positively. They tended to see their social world in a less hostile way, to see violence as an unacceptable option, and to choose competent strategies for addressing conflict rather than aggressive ones.
Conducting in-depth interviews with 32 teachers from 8 different schools, the study revealed that the teachers viewed the RCCP as having a positive impact on: their teaching; their personal lives; their students’ attitudes and behaviors; and their school environment.
Conflict resolution education is a powerful curriculum force in schools. Evaluations of the impact of the RCCP in four multiracial, multiethnic school districts in New York City showed that 84 percent of teachers who responded to a survey reported positive changes in classroom and school environment, 71 percent reported moderate or significant decreases in physical violence in the classroom, and 66 percent observed less name-calling and fewer verbal insults. More than 98 percent of respondents said that mediation gave children a significant tool for handling conflicts.
It is clear that our increase in standardized scores and the overall achievement of our students can be traced to a clear vision and common language of conflict resolution and constructive communication. This foundation has enabled us to change the conversation about teaching and learning at P.S.69. It really is about “Educating Minds and Hearts.”#