While she was preparing her papers and audio-visual material, Annie, an elementary school teacher of 19 years of experience, was surprised to hear some of her students enter the room before time!
Two eight years old boys entered their classroom, frustrated, disappointed, worried.
‘’Annie, Annie we are in great trouble! We have a problem with the school bus driver. We were thrown out of the bus, we are not allowed to take the bus anymore. So this afternoon we have to go back home walking.’’
‘’It looks quite troublesome for you!’’
‘’Yes. He throws us out. We didn’t do anything wrong.’’
‘’Frustrating, isn’t it?’’
‘’He doesn’t want to discuss. Could you get him to discuss with us, like in our problem solving meetings.’’
‘’I have to discuss that with the director; she’s is the one who hires and supervises the school bus drivers. Maybe we should go and see her.’’
‘’Yes! OK! Let’s go before he goes away!’’
When they got to the director’s office, Annie, the teacher, explained rapidly the matter and, Elizabeth, the director called the school bus driver.
‘’What’s the matter?’’ asked the bus driver.
Annie explained: ‘’Eric and Alex here have a problem and want to discuss that with you, as we do in the classroom… that is to find a solution that would solve your problem and solve theirs at the same time! To make you happy and to make them happy! Are you willing to try the process? That’s the way they are taught to discuss their conflict in the classroom. Elizabeth and I will supervise the discussion and help if necessary.’’
‘’Looks like the new democracy! I know youngsters are allowed to talk, and even talk back these days. I am willing to try it with you.’’
Alex talked for both of them: ‘’M. Foster, we know you have a problem with the noise and shuffling in the bus. Would you want to explain us what your problem is?’’
‘’Well, this morning, for the upteenth time, you started yelling and horseplaying around in the bus. That’s not a normal way of behaving!’’
‘’OK we know it disturbs you. But we were not the ones fighting. They fell on us and we tried to get out of that mess!’’
‘’Alex and Eric, would you explain your problem to M. Foster, now that he explained his?’’, added Annie.
Eric kept on explaining: ‘’M. Foster, if you do not take us in the bus this afternoon, our mother will be furious… at the time we will come back home. We would have to walk 4 miles!! That’s, that’s really too much! It’s to much a punishment for us to take!’’
‘’Maybe! I didn’t think about the distance and all that! But I cannot drive with all that shuffling around! I need to concentrate on what’s happening on the road, not in the bus!’’
‘’We know that! We do not fight!’’
Elizabeth glanced at her watch and prompted: ‘’Do you have a solution for Mr. Foster?’’
Alex volunteered: ‘’Well if he lets us board the bus, we could find a solution for him!’’
Eric added: ‘’It’s easy. There are just two who fight. It’s allways the same. They unfortunately are also the tallest: Josh and Steph. Just sit them in the front seat, one on each side, and sit a girl besides each. That will do. That’s what our music teacher does with the disturbers and it works!’’
‘’Well, I’ll try it. Anyway I realize I cannot throw you out of the bus without the approval of the director!! Let’s try it today. We’ll see. If it works I’ll be as glad as you!’’
Looking at the director, Mr. Foster added: ‘’Is that all?’’
She nodded and Annie completed the session with: ‘’If you are happy with this we can say It’s a good solution. If ever it does not work we could come back here and talk it over.’’
The bus driver was surprised the process was so friendly and… effective. The discussion was in fact lead by the kids themselves. And it was short enough that Annie’s class started on time!