Teacher Narratives on the Practice of Conflict Mediation
The contemporary school has been confronted with countless social problems, which have urged the institution to reflect upon itself. Demands have been made on schools to perform different tasks and play new roles in order to address the plurality of social and educational responsibilities attributed to it. The improvement of the educational practice has therefore become a necessity, if not a demand, of the teacher inserted in the Society in constant change. To that extent, teachers’ training consists of a means of renewal of competences which enable them to work with all students according to their real possibilities.
Research on teachers’ training as mediators is an unexplored field. The identified studies, of quantitative or mixed nature, which include the teachers’ perspective, focus on the effects and results of the mediation programs, such as: Boqué & García (2010), Pulido, Fajardo, Pleguezuelos & Gregorio (2010), Ibarrola-García and Redín (2013), Martins, Machado and Furlanetto (2016), Paula, Durante and Fantacini (2016); Quinquiolo (2017).
The issue of our research is reflected in the following question: What is the teachers’ perception about the practice of mediation, after a specialized training in school context? Thus, we target as general objective of study: to identify the learning and conflict mediation practices acquired and experienced by teachers.
Given the specificities of the study, we considered the qualitative research to be the most suitable. The study was carried out in the training context of 140 teachers, of all teaching cycles, in 9 Portuguese school groupings.
The data collected from the written narratives and critical reports produced by the teachers at the end of the training, which occurred between October 2017 and April 2018, from 25 to 30 presential hours and 25 to 30 hours of autonomous work, in after working hours. We privileged the narrative as data analysis technique and we were based on the content analysis, with the support of the webQDA® software. As methodology we proceeded, in an initial stage, to the analysis of the results separately, and, later, to a comparative analysis of the results obtained from school groupings. The categories obtained were emerging from the data content analysis.
From the analysis of the results, we registered a positive impact of the training process in mediation on personal and professional development. We verified that mediation has applicability from the first cycle until secondary education, allowing the teacher to play a key role in managing the school coexistence. It was confirmed that mediation strictly articulates with the daily reality of teachers and students. Teachers’ learning of principals, strategies and conflict mediation techniques turned out to be essential to its application in experiential context. We acknowledge that teachers focus on the solution to the situations of break up, standing on a remediation perspective of mediation. It is, therefore, important to strengthen the transforming perspective of mediation, which calls for the recognition and empowerment of individuals. Neutrality was the most prominent element of the mediation practice. There lies one of the axes of education’s potential and of self-moralisation of this methodology.
We concluded that this training was successful, although challenging regarding the consolidation of the praxis that will sustain the culture of mediation within the educational community.