First of all as I sit here and think about it, none of the conflicts are simple--they all go deeper. On the surface each issue looks small and understandable, but as I dig underneath I see big issues of gender bias, lack of confidence, class, friendship issues, and more at the root of these seemingly small events. Taking a back seat makes me realize that we all have to slow it down and get underneath the issues with questions such as the following:
- Does he act up because there's not enough recess and movement time?
- Will she not wear her coat because it's older and not as pretty as other students' coats?
- Is she not reading because reading is difficult for her?
- Is he laying down because he has a stomach ache?
Earlier in the day a young man avoided a conflict with great patience. He couldn't follow the class directive and he approached me kindly to tell me that he couldn't follow the direction. I asked why and he explained. It made sense, and the rule was changed for that child.
How you approach a situation can minimize conflict greatly in a classroom. Making the time to ask questions before reaching conclusions is always a good idea--questions such as why are you laying down?, why won't you wear your coat;, and why won't you read? It's sometimes difficult to do that in the three-ring circus that a school can be as there's always a lot going on at all times, yet it's the right thing to do.