MEND - (Mediating Ends Negative Disagreements)
The MEND approach is a restorative practice that focuses on relationship building within LDSB school communities.
MEND supports preventative community building in classrooms, provides restorative training for staff and students and responsively assists students in conflict to find restorative resolutions.
MEND (Mediating by Empowering using Nurturing Dialogue) is a collaborative Youth Diversion/LDSB initiative.
MEND Program Information:
MEND began as a pilot program in 2006. It was initially funded by the Ministry of Child and Youth Services together with funding from both the Ontario Education Services Corporation and the Ministry of Education.
MEND continues today as an integral part of LDSB’s strategic plan and YDP’s approach. This has been made possible by funding from LDSB, the Ontario Trillium foundation, the Ministry of Child and Youth Services and our Kingston community.
MEND (Mediating by Empowering using Nurturing Dialogue) is a Restorative approach/ practice.
Restorative Practice Definition: (Restorative Practice Consortium 2016)
- Restorative Practice is a way of thinking and being based on a foundation of caring, collaborative and respectful relationships.
- Restorative Practice builds and strengthens healthy relationships and community.
- Restorative Practice provides a supportive framework to prevent, respond to, and repair harm through a continuum of practice.
The focus of MEND is on building relationships between people (preventative) and on rebuilding and repairing relationships where needed (responsive).
Preventative MEND Approach:
MEND focuses on promoting understanding and building relationships.
Intervention specialists work with students in classrooms to build empathy and develop knowledge and understanding of one-another.
This work is supported in classrooms with interactive MEND workshops on empathy, perceptions and relationship building.
MEND Classroom circles provide opportunities for social skill development. Communication, problem solving, responsibility, inclusivity, empowerment, resilience and leadership are all developed through active participation within the restorative classroom circle.
Circles are initially facilitated by Intervention Specialists, then classroom teachers, and ultimately by the students themselves.
These restorative circles thereby build trust, connection, understanding, respect, caring, consideration and acceptance between participants.
This provides the basis for strong community development within classrooms and schools.
Responsive MEND Approach:
In situations where harm has occurred; healing is the important focus.
With the responsive MEND approach the element of blame is removed…the element of responsibility remains: it is important for people to recognize the impact of their actions on one another. The MEND focus is on building understanding.
Our experience has shown us that when people truly understand how they have affected someone else, then they make personalized meaningful efforts to repair that harm; and to ensure that the person(s) they have harmed feels safe in the future.
The Responsive MENDing Conversation© Process:
Many issues involving conflict can be quickly resolved with a restorative MENDing Conversation.
A MENDing Conversation uses structured questions, is facilitated by trained staff and is used in a minor conflict situation. The purpose is to understand what happened, how others have been affected and what can be done to make things right.
The MENDing Conversation is a specific approach that uses restorative language to assist in facilitating productive discussions.
The focus is on repairing any harm caused; as opposed to attaching blame. The process is based on the importance of ensuring that all of the restorative questions are thoroughly answered and that the answers are fully understood.
MENDing Conversation Cards© are used by MEND trained school staff to facilitate this process:
Responsive MENDing Circle Process:
MENDing Circles are used when a conflict between students is more deep rooted, long standing or complicated.
As MEND Intervention Specialists; we meet individually with students involved in conflict to understand their needs, then work towards bringing them together (within their comfort zone) to better understand one another.
The first meeting (individual) 1:1 with a MEND Intervention Specialist provides an opportunity for each of the participants to understand the process more fully and to make an informed decision about whether or not to engage in the process. Participants will be asked to share their perspective about the conflict and will have the space to openly express needs and concerns in a confidential setting.
The opportunity is then created for students to come together to speak directly with one another in a meaningful way in a safe environment with support from MEND Intervention Specialists.
Intervention Specialists will support everyone involved, ensuring that everyone fully hears one another and creates their own solution.
Participation in MEND is voluntary and participants can change their mind at any time.
The goal is to improve everyone’s sense of safety and comfort with one another and their community.
The intent is a focus on healing for all involved.
Typically, conflicts tend to resurface and regenerate; creating frustration and discomfort for all concerned. This is frequently because the root cause(s) of the conflict have not been uncovered, participants do not fully understand the impact of their actions on one another, the focus has been on events rather than feelings…and the individuals involved have therefore not truly learned to empathize with one another.
MEND Level 1 and Level 2 Training builds on the communication and problem solving tools that staff use with youth, focuses on providing a collaborative ‘work with’ approach and allows for individual styles and approaches within a consistent restorative framework to ensure that communication is built on developing understanding.
MEND Level 1: MENDing Conversations Training introduces restorative concepts and explores how to get to the root causes of everyday conflict using restorative questions. All school staff are encouraged to engage in this training to enhance their capacity to assist students in conflict.
MEND Level 2: MENDing Circles Training builds on the Level 1 concepts for supporting students. MENDing Circles assist students who are involved in more intense conflicts to collaboratively find solutions. MENDing Circle training is intended for supervisory/ support staff who are ultimately best positioned to engage in supporting students with more time consuming issues.
MEND ‘Building community in your Classroom’ Training provides teachers with the framework and tools for practicing (preventative) community circles within their classrooms.
Classroom Community Circles provide opportunities to learn about one another, build social and communication skills, develop empathy and understanding….and ultimately create supportive environments with positive social norms and connections to assist with building community. Classroom Community Circles can readily be used as a collaborative approach to meeting curriculum goals. Classroom Community Circles also provide opportunities to work on problems together within a safe environment.
MEND Community Partner Training:
Given that all LDSB schools now utilize MEND in varying ways, we believe that consistency in conflict resolution throughout the community will further assist youth in resolving conflict in a meaningful way.
MEND training has been provided for a variety of our community partners who have incorporated the MEND approach into their interactions with youth.