Conflict Resolution Strategies for the Classroom

Instructor: Derek Hughes
With any group of people comes the potential for conflict. This is especially true for students in the classroom, who have such a wide range of personalities. The strategies in this lesson will help you teach them how to handle and resolve conflicts.

Conflict Resolution Defined

Think of the last time you were in a situation with someone you vehemently disagreed with. You also happened to find this person particularly grating and you were frustrated by his or her presence and interactions. How would you handle that situation? Would you lash out and start making personal attacks? Would you remain quiet and internalize your frustration and anger? Or would you try and resolve the conflict peacefully, agreeing to disagree?

Now imagine that same situation, but instead of emotionally mature adults being the key players, make it two middle school-aged children. The situation probably looks a lot different and potentially explosive. That is why, as a teacher, you need to teach and practice good conflict resolution, which is the process of facilitating an amicable, peaceful conclusion to a conflict.

The strategies detailed in this lesson are not just strategies you can use to resolve conflicts among your students, but can also be taught to your students so they can begin the process of independently resolving conflicts.

Cool-Off Time

A good beginning strategy for conflict resolution is helping students know when they need to back away from the situation and 'cool off' or calm down. The following situation shows the huge benefits this strategy can garner almost immediately.

Two fifth grade students are working together on a project about a book they read in class. For this project, the students must take one side of a debate that has been assigned to them by their teacher. However, the students are on opposite sides of the issue, and their discussion is getting heated, almost to the point of a screaming match.

The teacher in this situation has several options. First, the teacher can continue to let the students argue hoping they settle it themselves. Second, the teacher can step in and move the students to new groups, or third, the teacher can pull the students aside and tell them to spend some time cooling off.

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