Mediation Mentor Program Details
Teacher Training Model
The trainer acts as a mentor for the trainee in a series of co-mediations (acting as mediators together, with the permission of the disputants). These guidelines for the mentors describe the MMP program. The MMP is based upon the clinical training of teachers. Depending on time limitations, there are usually three stages to the MMP:
- A planning meeting between the mentor and the trainee mediator (protégé), which is the first meeting and orientation at the courthouse.
- A co-mediation, where the protégé takes the lead in the co-mediation (could be the second co-mediation) and the mentor steps in as necessary to achieve a successful mediation and to guide the disputants during the mediation. After the co-mediation, the mentor fills out an observation sheet to provide the protégé feedback.
- A feedback meeting, in which the mentor and protégé share information and thoughts for improvement in a constructive and supportive manner. This can be done immediately after the mediation session, or as the mentor and protégé may agree and privately schedule.
As a mediation mentor, you will have various roles with your trainee: supervisor, evaluator, and counselor. Below are some helpful hints about how you as a mentor can maintain a positive attitude towards clinical supervision for the training and growth of your protégé. As such, you are in the role of a teacher and counselor, and to the extent that you can create a bond of trust and respect you will be more successful. At best, you will develop a relationship, recruit the trainee to continue to volunteer with the Congress of Neutrals, and develop a beneficial professional relationship.
The Planning Meeting
We briefly review our protocols: sign-in, court-required forms, the prohibition on evaluative mediation, the mediator’s role as host of the mediation, the importance of personal introductions and cordiality, the opening statement, whether they understand the court’s time constraints, and a brief review of their experience and present expectations.
During courthouse mediation, time is a factor. You may need to urge a trainee to use the Agreement to Mediate as a quick opening statement checklist. You may cue the trainee to move more quickly. You can intervene as you feel it becomes necessary. Our goal as mediators with The Congress of Neutrals is to do better tomorrow, even if we settle a case today.
Some trainees see the co-mediation process as a threat. But they will react positively to a style that is responsive to their concerns and aspirations. People tend to be anxious when they know they are being evaluated, especially if negative evaluations threaten their future. We can tread lightly. Mentors should be careful not to criticize a different mediation style. Some mediators are personable, outgoing and use humor. Others are quiet and analytical. Each style can be used effectively, if disputants are treated respectfully, and confidentiality and neutrality are maintained.
The Feedback Meeting
MMP is a supervision which is 1) interactive rather than directive, 2) democratic rather than authoritarian, 3) teacher-centered rather than supervisor-centered. The type of authority we are teaching is “competence” or “ability” and the key is a face-to-face relationship and focus on the trainee’s actual behavior in the mediation. A supervisor clarifies goals, collects observational data during the mediation, and then works toward cooperative decisions about how future mediation services could be improved.
See “Techniques in the Clinical Supervision of Teachers: Pre-service and In-service Applications” by Keith A. Acheson and Meredith Damien Gall, University of Oregon, Longman. Copyright 1980.