Speak Your Peace: a Social Emotional Program where Kids are the Teachers!
“Speak Your Peace" is program for schools where kids teach other kids the skills of empathy, compassion, and non-violence!
About Your Organization
United States, MN, Bemidji, Minnesota
Country where this project is creating social impact
United States, MN, Northern Minnesota
Is your organization a
Non‐profit / NGO / Citizen sector organization
Your role in Education
The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with
How long has your organization been operating?
More than 5 years
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Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Scaling (the next step will be growing impact on a regional or even global scale)
How long has your solution been in operation?
Operating for more than 5 years
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
When students do not feel safe or cared for, they are less capable of reaching their full potential for personal well-being, and social and academic success. Yet, today, many students have the experience of being teased, intimidated, excluded, harassed, and even physically harmed in school. Social and emotional learning (SEL) programs are meant to address these problems. These programs are effective at helping students to develop increased empathy, decrease bullying, create and maintain healthy relationships, and gain the skills to resolve conflicts non-violently. It is often difficult for schools to find the time and funding to implement these programs. Therefore, the majority of schools still lack adequate social and emotional learning programs.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
Our “Speak your Peace” program offers a unique way for schools to implement a social emotional learning program with little financial cost or demands on teacher time: teach students to be the teachers! Fifteen years ago our organization created a program called Students Teaching Attitudes of Respect (STAR) to help schools with limited financial resources and staff time implement social emotional learning programs for their students. To date, STAR has successfully trained teams of students from 26 schools in Minnesota to teach conflict resolution, empathy, and compassion in their schools and communities. Our approach has been refined over the years to the point that it is receiving interest from around the country. We have developed the Speak Your Peace program to assist schools across the United States and around the world to implement the model of students teaching students social and emotional skills.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
First, a school selects 6 or more student volunteers in 5th-8th grade who show positive leadership skills to be part of a “Speak Your Peace” team. The team will work with an “advisor” throughout the school year, usually meeting for at least one hour per week during the school day or afterschool. The advisor can be a teacher, parent volunteer, social worker or other school staff member whose role is to help the team prepare presentations, and arrange opportunities for them to teach. The advisor and the team use a “Speak Your Peace” manual and DVD which includes information on how to be effective teachers as well as in-depth lessons on the following topics: Feelings and Needs, Bullying Behavior, Respectful Listening, Perspective, Thought Process, Cooperative Games, and Understanding Conflicts. Each topic section includes:
- Information about the topic
- A sample work lesson
-A student work plan for the team to use in writing out their parts for their own presentation
-A variety of skits and activities that the team can choose to use in their lesson.
-Entertaining video clips relating to the topic
Once a team has prepared and practiced their presentation, the advisor schedules times they can teach throughout the school. Finally, the students actually go into classrooms and teach! The students who are taught by the “Speak your Peace” Team learn practical knowledge and skills they can use to get along with others and resolve their conflicts. And by teaching the skills, the learning is more deeply internalized by the Speak Your Peace team members.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
While there are other social emotional programs in existence, we have not found any that focus on students as the teachers. There may be those who don't believe it's possible to have kids teach. However, our success not only demonstrate that it’s possible, but that it has many advantages: 1. When students teach something they learn it better. 2. Seeing kids teach gets other kid’s interest and attention. 3. Students are more likely to believe in the usefulness of social and emotional skills and concepts taught by kids close to their own age, and thus are more likely to use them. 4. In order to create a culture of peace, students must see empathy, compassion, and non-violence as “cool”. Empowering influential students to be positive role models who teach peace skills helps to do this.
Now that you have thought out your entry, help us pitch it.
Define your company, program, service, or product in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]
Speak Your Peace is a social emotional program for schools where kids teach kids the skills of empathy, compassion, and non-violence!
Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]
Gandhi said if we are to have peace we must begin with the children. Our program empowers youth to be teachers of peace in schools.
This Entry is about (Issues)
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
Peacemaker Resources has successfully trained students to teach conflict resolution and social emotional skills for over 15 years.
We have trained teams in 26 schools in Northern Minnesota, amounting to over
-In the 2010-2011 school year over 9,858 people were in attendance for
student teachings (some of the attendees attended multiple presentations).
-96% of student participants indicate that the program is meaningful.
-97% of parents report that the program has had an impact on their child.
-Schools enthusiastically support the peer-to-peer interactions of teams teaching skills to other students.
-Students continue to use the skills learned during training to resolve/manage conflict and teach others, both peers and adults, the skills they have learned.
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
We believe that every student should have the opportunity to learn skills of empathy, compassion, and nonviolence. Our program has allowed thousands of students within schools throughout Northern Minnesota to have this opportunity. Now we would like to make it available to schools throughout the world. We recently completed the second edition of our program’s manual and DVD which we will market on a national level so that our program will begin to be impemented in schools across the U.S. We will also be providing training, to interested schools, on how to successfully implement the program. We also plan to begin translating the Speak Your Peace program materials into at least two other languages so that the program can reach international audiences.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
We believe that once schools are aware of the Speak Your Peace program, they will be interested in implementing it. Getting them to be aware of the program, however, may be our biggest challenge. In order to generate awareness and interest in the program, we will need to adequately promote it. Peacemaker Resources is a non-profit with a small staff and a limited operating budget. A successful promotion and marketing campaign would require more staff time and financial resources than our organization currently has available. And if we are successful at generating interest in the program, acquiring the resources to offer customer support and continued development of the program may pose additional challenges.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
We will have the capacity, direction, and inventory to market and sell the Speak Your Peace program on a national level.
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Assemble an inventory of Speak Your Peace Manuals and DVDS and make them available for sale on our organizations website
Have a clear marketing plan for promoting the Speak your Peace program on national level over the course of the next 12 months.
Procure funding to allow for marketing and continued support and development of the Speak Your Peace program.
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
A minimum of six schools and/or youth oriented organizations implement the Speak your Peace program.
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Implement marketing plan for the Speak Your Peace program.
Complete a program specific website offering a lower cost digital version of the Speak Your Peace program.
Train and fund employee to offer customer service and support for the Speak Your Peace program.
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]
The seeds of the Speak Your Peace program were planted in the early 90's at a school in Bemidji, Minnesota where one of our staff had been volunteering to teach social emotional skills. It was there that she had the idea to give students the opportunity to teach the skills they had learned. She thought that if students taught these skills to others they, themselves, would learn more. Students loved teaching what they knew to others, and their audiences were engaged and enthusiastic. One of the first audiences outside of the school setting was the sheriff’s department where Sue had been asked to do a presentation on how to de-escalate a conflict. She brought a team of 3rd graders who quickly had the attention and interest of many police officers. The students taught a 40-minute lesson on “I-statements” and other conflict management techniques. The officers expressed gratefulness that youth were being taught the skills that they knew could significantly change their jobs in the future.
Tell us about your partnerships
We currently collaborate with members of the Bemidji Area Prevention Alliance (BAPA), which includes over forty stakeholders from educational and social service organizations. We are fiscal agent and a primary partner in the “Building Assets Together project. We also network with a number of different groups that share common goals such as the THRIVE early childhood initiative, the Beltrami Area Service Collaborative and the United Way Education Community Solution Team.
What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section? [75 words]
We have a dedicated staff, board of directors, and volunteers who will all work diligently to ensure the success of the Speak Your Peace program. In addition a regional foundation is very supportive of our work and recognize that if they contribute to our success it will help them meet their mission of creating quality communities.
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list
To make the Speak Your Peace program a success, our organization could use help funding the initial cost of marketing the program and would benefit from help in creating sucessful marketing strategies. Lastly, we would like to connect with others who are passionate about getting social and emotional learning in schools.