Teaching Constructive Ways Past Conflicts

Program teaches students
constructive ways past conflicts


Students at Fairview Elementary School in Middletown learned that putting the word "I" in a sentence instead of "you" makes all the difference in the world.
"Oh, not you again," George Anthony said. "You're a loser."
While teaching students at the school the difference between you and I, Anthony called his friend Lindy Crescitelli a loser, and by the time the lesson was over, Crescitelli confronted Anthony by saying, "Can I talk to you? I don't want to fight. I got into a lot of trouble the last time we fought."
George Anthony and Lindy Crescitelli, educators and consultants for their business Peace Dynamics, visited the school Oct. 25 for an all-day program to teach students new leadership skills by addressing bullying situations.
"Bullying can happen in any school, at any age," said Matt Kirkpatrick, the principal of the kindergarten-through-fifth-grade school. "Bullying is always a major issue."
The 40-minute sessions were conducted in the school's all-purpose room for the first-through-fifth-grade students.
In teaching the students their options when confronted with a bullying situation, Anthony of Middletown and Crescitelli of New York City told the students they had three choices: walk away from the problem, stay to fight it out, or try to communicate with each other to resolve the conflict.
Anthony and Crescitelli acted out each choice for the students. The basis for each skit was for Anthony to be getting a basketball team together. Each time, Crescitelli jumped up saying he wanted to play.
However, when Crescitelli stood in front of Anthony, Anthony called him a loser, pushed him and made fun of him when Crescitelli ran out of the room.
In this incident, Crescitelli did not stand up to Anthony. Crescitelli pretended to cry, ran for the door and left the room.
"What's wrong with this choice?" Crescitelli asked, when he came back into the room. He sat near some students and pretended to be mad. He also screamed, "What are you looking at?" when students turned to look at him.
The first choice showed the students that nothing got resolved, the problem still existed, and the victim was very angry and yelled at other people for no reason. Another outcome of this scenario could lead the victim to disassociation with others, Crescitelli said.
"He could hurt himself," said Justin Lippert, 10.
"The problem is still there," said Julia Terronova, 10.
The second choice drew some laughs from the fifth-graders, when the two men started calling each other names. Then it escalated and they started physically fighting, so the end result was effectively demonstrating another negative approach to resolving a conflict.
In this scene, Crescitelli stuck up for himself. He told Anthony he was "not a loser" and that Anthony was "a big loser." The two men pretended to be in a fist fight.
"You don't have control when you start fighting," Crescitelli said. "Someone could be seriously injured."
The second choice proved to be the wrong choice. The two people involved in the fight most likely would be in trouble with their parents, the principal and could cause them to lose friends over the conflict, Crescitelli said.
Prior to demonstrating the third choice, Crescitelli said he wanted the students to listen to the dialogue.
In this skit, Crescitelli asked Anthony if he could talk to him, after Anthony said he could not play on the basketball team.
"I would like to talk to you," he said. "I don't want to fight. I got into a lot of trouble the last time we had a fight."
"You're in trouble; I got in trouble, too," Anthony said.
After a few minutes of the "I" dialogue in the skit, the students found out that Anthony and Crescitelli were friends. But, a few months ago, Anthony got hit in the head with a basketball and he thought Crescitelli was laughing at him instead of asking him if he was hurt.
In this skit, the conflict was resolved between the two actors.
Although this particular conflict was resolved, Crescitelli said, if a student could not manage to get his or her partner to talk it out, the person trying to resolve the issue should continue his or her quest to get the other person to talk it out. He suggested asking a peer to intervine.
"Just say, could you tell (Anthony) I want to talk to him," Crescitelli said, adding if that fails, "ask an adult for help in resolving the situation."