How a teacher deals with conflict

Updated November 21, 2016

Teachers handle conflicts on a daily basis. They handle conflict in the classroom between students, and between themselves and students, administrators, and parents. They use different strategies to handle conflicts depending on the nature of the conflict, the severity of the conflict and the amount of knowledge they have about the conflict.

General Procedures

No matter what method teachers use to resolve a conflict, there are certain procedures that increase their effectiveness. Teachers should remain calm and free of emotion. It is important to keep the students' education in mind, patiently listen to all the facts and constructively discuss viable alternatives. Prompt communication is key to resolving conflicts, and teachers should be accessible to parents, administration and students to discuss problems confidentially.

Conflict Resolution by Compromise

Teachers can compromise when both parties understand each other's position and are willing to reach a viable resolution that satisfies everyone's main (but not all) concerns. The ability to achieve a compromise works best when parties listen with an open mind and make concessions. One example is where a solution is in the best interests of the student, but may not be the solution a parent would choose.

Authority Decides Resolution

Often teachers handle conflicts by asserting their authority. This is common in minor short-term conflicts between students or conflicts between teachers and students. Sometimes a teacher must give in due to an unyielding position by an administrator or parent. Depending on the parties and the issue, there may be more discussions before the party with authority ultimately decides. Resolutions involving minor conflicts between students may be handled more quickly while conflicts involving parents and administration often involve more in-depth discussion.

Resolutions Via Collaboration

Teachers sometimes collaborate with someone else to resolve a conflict. The parties discuss alternatives and agree to work together toward a resolution. The resolution is based on the information surrounding the problem, but it may not necessarily be a resolution both parties want. For example, conflicts involving student behaviour are often resolved by creating and implementing a behaviour plan that is collaborated on by parents, teachers and students.

Avoiding the Issue or Accommodating Another Party

Sometimes conflicts arise that are short-term or may be likely to resolve themselves. In this instance, it can make sense to ignore the issue. However, if the conflict is not severe and time is needed to determine the scope, it can be beneficial to make accommodations and reassess later.

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