Disagreements among students and even teachers is part of working at any institution. People have different perceptions and opinions of what they see and experience. With these differences often comes disagreements that can lead to serious problems.
This post will look at several broad categories in which conflicts can be resolved when dealing with conflicts in the classroom. The categories are as follows.
The avoidance strategy involves ignoring the problem. The tension of trying to work out the difficulty is not worth the effort. The hope is that the problem will somehow go away with any form of intervention. Often the problem becomes worst.
Teachers sometimes use avoidance in dealing with conflict. One common classroom management strategy is avoidance in which a teacher deliberately ignores poor behavior of a student to extinguish it. Since the student is not getting any attention from their poor behavior they will often stop the behavior.
Accommodating is focused on making everyone involved in the conflict happy. The focus is on relationships and not productivity. Many who employ this strategy believe that confrontation is destructive. Actual applications of this approach involve using humor, or some other tension breaking technique during a conflict. Again, the problem is never actually solved but rather some form of “happiness band-aid” is applied.
In the classroom, accommodation happens when teachers use humor to smooth over tense situations and when they make adjustments to goals to ameliorate students complaints. Generally, the first step in accommodation leads to more and more accommodating until the teacher is backed into a corner.
Another use of the term accommodating is the mandate in education under the catchphrase “meeting student needs”. Teachers are expected to accommodate as much as possible within guidelines given to them by the school. This leads to extraordinarily large amount of work and effort on the part of the teacher.
Force involves simply making people do something through the power you have over them. It gets things done but can lead to long term relational problems. As people are forced the often lose motivation and new conflicts begin to arise.
Forcing is often a default strategy for teachers. After all, the teacher is t an authority over children. However, force is highly demotivating and should be avoided if possible. If students have no voice they quickly can become passive which is often in opposite of active learning in the classroom.
Compromise involves trying to develop a win win situation for both parties. However, the reality is that often compromising can be the most frustrating. To totally avoid conflict means no fighting. TO be force means to have no power. However, compromise means that a person almost got what they wanted but not exactly, which can be more annoying.
Depending on the age a teacher is working with, compromising can be difficult to achieve. Younger children often lack the skills to see alternative solutions and half-way points of agreement. Compromising can also be viewed as accommodating by older kids which can lead to perceptions of the teacher’s weakness when conflict arises. Therefore, compromise is an excellent strategy when used with care.
Problem-solving is similar to compromising except that both parties are satisfied with the decision and the problem is actually solved, at least temporarily. This takes a great deal of trust and communication between the parties involved.
For this to work in the classroom, a teacher must de-emphasize their position of authority in order to work with the students. This is counterintuitive for most in teachers and even for many students. It is also necessary to developing strong listening and communication skills to allow both parties to provide ways of dealing with the conflict. As with compromise, problem-solving is better reserved for older students.
Teachers need to know what their options are when it comes to addressing conflict. This post provided several ideas or ways for maneuvering disagreements and setbacks in the classroom.