A leader’s guide to student conflict resolution

Student conflict resolution is another responsibility that falls into the lap of a teacher. I want to share with you a strategy I came across that explains how to resolve conflict from the perspective of a leader, which you most certainly are. Here are the steps to the strategy:

1. Both sides should take in the perspective of the other person

This is a simple first step. However, it can be very difficult for students because the experience of being in conflict has caused an internal reaction. It is imperative that both students begin to understand the perspective of the other student. They need to be able to put into words how the other person is viewing the situation. You may have to guide and prod the student to do this. As the student grows comfortable with your prompts, they will be able to more accurately complete this exercise.

2. Express the emotions

This step is so important because it is indicative of Emotional Intelligence. I define Emotional Intelligence as the ability to identify, express and regulate your emotions and build appropriate & healthy relationships that are filled with empathy. The first step here is to openly share those emotions. This may be foreign to your students. Prompt the students to express themselves by focusing on what happened, how it made them feel and why. For example, “When you took my ruler without asking, that made me angry because someone stole my last one.”

3. Move students past the sticking point

At some point in the discussion, there may be a point that things may seem to be stuck. Each side has been heard and understood, but the next step isn’t clear.  This is when your leadership is needed the most. If the conversation hasn’t fully moved to resolution, you need to kick-start it. Either move the conversation forward right then and there or let the students know that they will need to sit and discuss at a future time. You can refer them to the counselor or you can choose to find the time to handle it yourself.

4. Create Solutions

During the final phase, students are in position to develop and agree upon a solution. A true solution involves each person walking away feeling good with an understanding of the other person’s perspective and desires. The perfect solution is a win-win proposition.

What are your strategies regarding student conflict resolution? Please share in the comments section.


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