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Conflict Management in the Classroom- Tips for Teachers

As a teacher, if you have never felt like storming out of the classroom, at least once, then please do share the strategy that you use! Because all the teachers feel the heat at some point. Conflict is a daily occurrence in almost all classrooms, especially the ones filled with little kids. Thus, it becomes imperative for teachers to know some conflict management techniques. Conflict management is the process through which negative aspects of any interaction are weeded out.

Different types of conflicts would likely call for different types of conflict resolution techniques. Thus, there is no one way to manage conflict. The most important tip to teachers is that they should focus on classroom management and peacemaking from the beginning of their term. Students need to be informed about the importance of working as a team and always being cordial with each other. However, there might still arise some disputes which can not be avoided. Below are certain strategies to help teachers in their journey of conflict management.

Strategy for Small Conflicts
Many times, children can start fighting when one takes another’s pencil without asking, or when one wants to eat another’s lunch instead of their own. In such cases, teachers should make it a point to employ a common technique abbreviated as SOAR: Stop, Observe, Assess, and React. Through this technique, teachers will be much better equipped to handle conflict in a classroom that stems from smaller arguments.

Managing Larger Conflicts- Techniques

The second strategy is applicable when conflicts of a larger nature take place in the classroom. The teachers can employ the following 6 steps which help in maintaining peace inside the classroom.

  1. Calm down: Teachers should first and foremost help the students calm down. This can be done by taking deep breaths or counting backwards from 10 to 1.
  2. Listen and check: Let the students share their plight without any interruption. Hear all sides of the story and enable fruitful interaction among all conflicting parties. This will, in turn, help teachers to arrive at a suitable conclusion.
  3. Assign responsibility: After teachers have gauged what happened, they need to hold the students accountable for their actions. Thus, assign responsibility which will make the kids realize that what they did was wrong.
  4. Think of solutions: Sometimes, the best foot forward can be a compromise. Brainstorm solutions with the children and, as a teacher, enable them to come to a compromise which benefits both parties.
  5. Forgiveness and gratitude: teachers need to let their students know that forgiveness is the way toward the future. Ask kids to ask for forgiveness and thanks to the other party so that all is well.

Classroom Disruption Management
The third strategy is best for helping students who are angry or prone to violence in the classroom. Sometimes, the best conflict management strategies have to be tailor-made to suit the situation at hand. In case of a student disrupting the classroom, teachers can resolve conflict in the following ways.

  1. Teachers are advised to keep their cool during conflict management. They should speak directly and politely so that the angry student can be made aware of what they did wrong. Teachers should be logical in their approach and not let emotions get in the way of a practical and fruitful discussion.
  2. Talking privately anywhere outside the class might be a better approach than confronting the angry child in the classroom. This is to avoid any ill feelings the student might harbour towards the teacher or any embarrassment they might feel for having been scolded in class.
  3. Teachers should always be active listeners. This is the best tip to offer for conflict management. Hear what the student has to say and weigh in with opinions. Acknowledge what the student is feeling or what is the cause behind their actions. This will help any teacher to fully understand the conflict at hand.
  4. Lastly, teachers can help the angered student calm down by breathing exercises and let them vent to release their frustration. They can also present them with a solution or compromise if the problem is solvable.

Other Methods

There are various other strategies that work well in situations of conflict and even otherwise. They can be used to instill a sense of togetherness and belonging among the students. This will encourage understanding and friendliness, thus reducing conflicts.

Teachers can make the children practice affirmations to each other which can be used in times of conflict to recognize the problem and acknowledge the feelings of the wronged party. Using phrases like “I understand” and “I know how you feel” go a long way in making someone feel satisfied and secure in a classroom environment.

Additionally, children can role play various situations where conflict may arise and then learn to overturn it. This will help them to understand various types of conflict as well as equip them with conflict management. It will also make them better empaths. They will learn to acknowledge all viewpoints before arriving at conclusions and jumping to conflict.

Another conflict management technique is conducting regular reading sessions. These can revolve around topics like peace, friendship, conflict resolution, etc. It will enable the students to look at situations from the characters’ perspective and learn to handle conflict in real life settings.

Lastly, teachers can also encourage their students to let their feelings out in the form of art. They can draw pictures of what they feel or what the conflicting situation was. If they are old enough, they can even write it down on a piece of paper if they have trouble expressing themselves verbally. This will help them to release their pent up frustration or sadness and help the teacher to get a clearer idea. Thus, they will be better equipped for conflict management if they know how the students actually feel.

Conflict management is not uniform in nature. As mentioned before, there is no one fixed way to go about it. Different types of students and situations entail various techniques which can be instrumental in resolving conflict. However, the most important point for teachers is to recognise a conflict situation and acknowledge their students’ feelings as well as they can.

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