The Peace Power Strategy


    Throughout the year at Crow Island School, we look for ways to use Peace Power in our daily routines. Peace Power is a strategy, or way of being, that supports maintaining a healthy, peaceful environment for learning and growing. Each year, we begin with an art project that depicts many different ways to ‘live Peace Power,’ which is followed by an all-school assembly and group display of the drawings. Faculty members and students alike design their own ways to identify, celebrate and engage with the four Peace Power principles – Recognize, Stop putdowns, Work together, and Make peace. We all share in our commitment to learning, working and growing in a healthy, vibrant school community.

    Peace Power is NOT a series of lesson plans that we add onto our already full curriculum. Instead, Peace Power is designed to be incorporated organically into the working and relating we already do at Crow Island School.

    Dr. Mark Mattaini, primary researcher and founder of Peace Power, is a professor at Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He, with the help of the Peace Power working group, designed the strategy after years of researching what does and does not work to decrease bullying and create a peaceful culture. The four core practices, or principles, that form the foundation of Peace Power are briefly outlined below. (Please refer to for a more comprehensive description of Peace Power.) There are hundreds of ways to put these practices into action throughout the school year.

    RECOGNIZE (Recognize contributions and successes)

    Recognition and reinforcement of contributions to the community are at the heart of the Peace Power strategy. This principle can be very effective so long as the focus remains on recognizing specific actions a person has taken (e.g., “I recognize for choosing a game that includes everyone.”) versus attributes over which we largely have no control. Thousands of studies support the power of such recognition. In fact, cultures of recognition change brain chemistry in ways that are consistent with achievement and cooperation, and inconsistent with aggression and threats.

    STOP PUTDOWNS (Act with respect)

    Having ‘critical dialogue’ with children about what respect means to us is really important at Crow Island. Often, it is best to start with small groups. The students will usually emulate the seriousness with which an adult approaches this discussion.

    WORK TOGETHER (Share power to build community)

    The idea here is to teach the skills of sharing power to enhance what Dr. Mattaini refers to as “the collective web” or the community as a whole. It is important to note that in this context we are defining ‘power’ as: 1) what one does to contribute to the group, 2) an action and NOT an attribute; and 3) each individual’s power is unique in some way.

    MAKE PEACE (Make peace)

    No matter how hard we try to avoid it, there will inevitably be some conflicts. This practice emphasizes the importance to ‘make peace’ after this occurs. The primary goal here is not to find a solution to the immediate problem, but rather, to heal the relationships that have been damaged by the behavior of one or more people involved.

    Peace Power Guidelines at Crow Island School

    At Crow Island School, we use Peace Power as our strategy to create a healthy, peaceful environment for learning and growing. The four main tenets of Peace Power (Recognize, Stop Putdowns, Work Together, and Make Peace) help students develop a framework for these actions. Based on the structure that we teach and use at school, as well as the lessons you teach your children at home, we would like to work together to establish our shared expectations of appropriate behavior throughout the Crow Island community.

    Most important is our desire for students to learn and play in a safe environment by being smart, safe, respectful and responsible.• Be on time! Arrive by 8:37 in the morning and by 12:27 (12:12 on Mondays) in the afternoon.

    • Tell an adult immediately if something seems wrong.
    • Keep your hands and feet to yourself. Never hit, kick, push, pinch, threaten, or hurt another person.
    • Show respectful behavior by listening carefully, speaking thoughtfully, and being cooperative toward everyone in our community.
    • Be friendly. Use good manners. Help others when needed.
    • Use kind language, a kind tone of voice and kind actions at all times.
    • Be quiet in the hallways.
    • Accept other people the way they are. No one should make fun of you because of the way you learn. Help others join in your activities.
    • Keep your locker, classroom and lunchroom neat and clean.
    • Be dependable and responsible.
    • Show pride in your school by respecting school property and grounds.
    • Be happy! Be true to yourself and your values. Everyone should treat you fairly no matter what. Everyone should be kind to one another. Be honest. Tell the truth.

    When we think of the different environments our children encounter throughout the day, the following bullets may be helpful in describing the kind of behaviors that support Peace Power and being smart, safe, respectful and responsible:

    At Lunchtime or while on the Playground:

    • Listen to and follow the directions of the teachers.
    • Never leave school grounds without permission.
    • Go back into school or line up promptly when the signal is given.
    • Use playground equipment properly and safely. 

    On the School Bus:

    • Follow the bus rules as outlined in the letter sent from the District Office.
    • Listen to the bus driver.
    • Remain seated and seat belted when the bus is moving.
    • Use a polite and quiet voice. 

    On the Way to School and Home:

    • Be aware of your environment and make good choices about crossing the street, playing in the snow and walking with
    • Follow the Traffic and Bicycle Guidelines. We hope to work together with all of our families to ensure a safe and productive environment for all of our