The Friendship Saver

Shaping Students Templates for Managing Conflict across Their Lifespan

Research confirms that social emotional learning programs need to be delivered with fidelity (that is, delivered as intended in the  manual) in order to produce outcomes comparable to the original research design.  In the same token, researchers also argue for programs that are adaptable, allowing schools to appropriately adapt programs to suit the individual needs of their students.  

These two ideas can be viewed as competing arguments however, The Friendship Saver Program has been developed with a supportive manual to encourage fidelity of implementation, while providing a program design that is highly adaptable.  As such, schools have been able to implement the program in a number of creative ways, to suit their individual needs.  

Case Study 1: Grade 3 Universal Program
Delivered by School Counsellor and Class Teacher

Genazzano FCJ College equips students with skills in managing relationships and the highs and lows of life through its whole school wellbeing and positive education program. Assisting students to develop emotional regulation, empathy, perspective and social problem solving skills is a focus of our work with students from Prep through to Year 12. At Year 3, students participate in the Friendship Saver Program, which we have been running at the College for many years.  We believe that the program ideally suits the age and stage of development of our Year 3 students, who benefit from having an understanding of, and the language for, friendship problems and how to deal with them.


At Genazzano, we run the program throughout Term 2 or 3, with the final session, which is the drama concert (the students love this opportunity to perform!) occurring at the beginning of the following term.  If needed, we tweak sessions to spend extra time on pertinent concepts and condense other areas. For example, whole body listening has been able to be condensed into one session to enable more time on assertive communication.  Each session runs for one hour and is facilitated by myself with the class teacher assisting and ensuring the concepts and language are used in the classroom outside of the program.


My experience has been that it provides girls with a safe place to share any problems they may be having, and to work on solutions together. The program also ensures prosocial skills are highlighted and celebrated.


Students absolutely love participating in the Friendship Saver Program and have referred to the program as both fun and helpful.  I have had students positively refer back to the program many years after their participation.  I too have loved facilitating the program – not only because of the benefits it brings each student and the Year 3 class as a whole, but also because it is so much fun! I bring in puppets to assist the girls with the Drama Triangle (a lion puppet, a mouse puppet and a dog puppet for the St Bernard).  I also have ensured parents have an understanding of the program through an introductory letter, email updates every three weeks and this year (2016) parents were provided a brief presentation of the program.


I have found it essential to emphasis to students the importance of transferring the skills learned through the program to the ‘real world’ and each week we allow time for a class discussion of their ‘detective work’, which has a positive focus on how problems have been solved well and what prosocial behaviours have been observed recently.  It can take time for students to feel comfortable enough to share their concerns and relationship strengths and weaknesses so it is important to provide time each session for class discussion and then it is up to the teacher and I to tailor our focus and ensure any problematic behaviours are reduced. It is a joy to see the girls learning and demonstrating real empathy for each other.

November 2016

Information provided by Clare Panetta, School Counsellor, Genazzano FCJ College

Case Study 2: Grade 2 Withdrawal Group
Delivered by Speech Therapist and Integration aide

'The Friendship Saver Program' was the perfect fit for our grade 2 girls. I ran the program once a week (1 hour session) with five grade 2 girls.  The girls looked forward to attending all the sessions because it was their job to teach the other girls in grade 2 'How to be a good friend'.  After each session, the girls reported back to their class about what they had learnt about and also brought back something visual (that they had made) to their classroom (e.g. a poster) so that the teacher and students could refer back to it when needed.  The specialist teachers (e.g. sports teacher) found incorporating some of the elements of 'The Friendship Saver Program' into their lessons to be useful (e.g whole body listening and the strength triangle).  The knowledge and consistent use of the strategies in the school, made the entire concept come alive across the year level.  The 'Friendship Styles' lesson was a powerful one with the grade 2 girls.  They took great comfort in gaining knoweldge of the different styles and realising that there is no 'correct' style.  'The Onion of Friendship' lessons enabled the girls to realise that we interact differently to people according to how well we know them.  The girls on the spectrum had great difficulties with this concept, however, once 'real life' concrete examples were given, they were able to differentiate between what is approprate and what is not.  'The Drama Triangle' enabled the girls to gain insight into their own and others reactions when a problem arises.  The concrete examples (e.g. the lion) enabled the children to easily conceptualise how each animal would react in a variety of situaitons. They enjoyed 'role play' about 'The Drama Triangle' and were able to identify both and disadvantages associated with each animal.  The girls enjoyed having ownership of this program (the Flipbooks are a treasured possession)! and would happily talk about it to anyone that would listen!  

June, 2013. 

Information provided by: Felicity Conlan, Speech Pathologist (Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School)

I have recently been able to attend The Friendship Saver Program at Penleigh Essendon Junior Girls School. The program was run successfully, for grade 2 students.  Our Speech Pathologist, Felicity Conlan, ran the program. 

The Flip books were really good for the students to look back at what they had achieved during each lesson.  They could also recall to their class exactly what each lesson consisted of by the use of pictures.  

Having the students actually making lists of what makes them agree or disagree with others and how to better resolve these conflicts was wonderful to see. 

Whole Body Listening: As soon as they grasped the concept of this activity it really worked throughout the whole lesson, however, the ones that really stood out for me were the Onion of Friendship and Friendship Styles.  The way these young children thought about these friendship styles was amazing.  It seemed that once you gave them something to think about, they grasped hold of it and thought about how friendship can affect themselves and others. 

Then to also realise, without any hesitation where they stood in their own friendship styles was just wonderful. 

The students were also able to interpret the Drama Triangle and work out where they may place themselves. 

I am an Integration Aide at the school; I work across the campus with children from prep to Grade 6.  This program would be so beneficial to all students within the school.  For our students to be socially aware when they are in school or out of the school environment, this program is invaluable. 

June 2013. 

Information provided by: Julie Slobodzian. Integration Aide.  Penleigh Essendon Grammar Junior Girls School 

Case Study 3: Grade 5 Cohort Universal Program 
Delivered by Two School Counsellors and supported by the class teachers

Our girls, at the Junior School, have loved participating in the Friendship Saver Program (FSP). They were highly engaged in the sessions and participated enthusiastically.  The program  has given our students, teachers, counsellors and parents a shared language and terminology and some extremely useful strategies and skills.  These skills and strategies can be used in their day to day relationships, in resolving friendship problems and in developing resilience.

 

Some of the concepts have been also been used in individual sessions both with Junior and Senior girls, particularly the problem solving, the Onion of friendship and Whole Body Listening.  

December 2011

Information provided by Paula Kolivas and Beth Sarlos, School Counsellor, Camberwell Girls Grammar School

Case Study 4: Grade 3 Universal Program
Delivered by the School Counsellor and Supported by the Class Teacher

As a teacher, I found the Friendship Saver Programme to be useful in many ways.  It provided me with specific, non-threatening vocabulary to use with my students when friendship issues arose.  It also gave me practical strategies to use in the playground and in the classroom in terms of how to help the girls sort issues out themselves, rather than seeking adult help straight away. The visual cues were particularly useful, as were the role plays.

November, 2011 


Information provided by Mrs Ellen Canvin, Year 3 Class Teacher, Presbyterian Ladies College Sydney

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