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Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Mitigating Conflict

It's only 10:31 a.m. and there's been a fair amount of conflict this morning. Generally conflict as well as exhilaration comes with a snowfall and the snow is falling beautifully right now outside of the classroom window. Conflict also arises when unexpected events occur and you're not really sure how to navigate it.  So rather than move ahead, we're all taking a break to think about the conflict.

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.