“Students do not come to school with all the social skills they need to collaborate effectively with others. Therefore, teachers need to teach the appropriate communication, leadership, trust, decision making, and conflict management skills to students and provide the motivation to use these skills in order for groups to function effectively.” Students bring different ideas, goals, values, beliefs and needs to their teams and these differences are a primary strength of teams. These same differences inevitably lead to conflict, even if the level of conflict is low. Since conflict is inevitable, one of the ways in which faculty members can help students improve their abilities to function on multidisciplinary teams is to work with them to develop their understanding of conflict and their capabilities to manage and resolve conflict.
Conflict may be defined as a struggle or contest between people with opposing needs, ideas, beliefs, values, or goals. Conflict on teams is inevitable; however, the results of conflict are not predetermined. Conflict might escalate and lead to nonproductive results, or conflict can be beneficially resolved and lead to quality final products. Therefore, learning to manage conflict is integral to a high-performance team. Conflict management involves acquiring skills related to conflict resolution, self-awareness about conflict modes, conflict communication skills, and establishing a structure for management of conflict in your environment.
When you learn to effectively manage and resolve conflicts with others, then more opportunities for successful team memberships are available to you. Although conflict may be misunderstood and unappreciated, research shows that unresolved conflict can lead to aggression. Most of us use conflict skills that we observed growing up, unless we have made a conscious effort to change our conflict management style. Some of us observed good conflict management, while others observed faulty conflict management. Helping children learn conflict management skills, early in life, will help groom them for one of the inevitable challenges of adult life. This challenge is not restricted to the home or workplace, instead it is an irreplaceable life skill that will help stay afloat in a society of increasing miscommunication and personal problems. Today’s child is often rife with pressures, increased responsibility, and over-scheduling. Coupled with the normal growing-up issues, even kids under the age of 10 can face their unfair share of conflict with peers, parents, and teachers. Some elementary school counselors see a growing need for conflict resolution and mediation skills, and are effectively teaching it. The Benefits of Conflict Management are Multi-Layered
The Second Step program from the Committee of Children, a non-profit organization that develops and publishes programs and curricula about social skills and related issues for children, uses the following five steps for social problem solving: identify the problem and listen to each side without judgement or interruptions brainstorm possible solutions
evaluate each solution
select, plan, and try the solution
evaluate whether the solution worked and switch to another solution if needed
Teacher Training for Positive Discipline in the Classroom
It takes a shift in power, a shift in thinking and hands-on practice to implement Positive Discipline in the Classroom, all of which doesn’t happen overnight. Students don’t automatically learn to resolve conflicts on their own, especially if adults have been handling behavior issues for children. As well, teachers who are used to having complete control of the classroom may feel very uncomfortable at first handing over the task of conflict resolution to students. At two-day workshops, teachers learn layered building blocks to teach problem solving skills and implement this innovative classroom management system. The Positive Discipline Association sponsors a fourteen hour experiential workshop where teachers learn hands-on classroom activities that teach students how to hold classroom meetings, determine reasons behind their own misbehavior, understand that there are different ways to look at and solve problems as well as other conflict resolution tools. The Building Blocks of Classroom Meetings
Learning to hold classroom meetings is a step-by-step process that will gradually turn responsibility over to students. Teachers are encouraged to move forward only after each step has been mastered in order to lay a firm foundation for holding meetings where students address behavioral issues in a structured way and with mutual respect and cooperation The eight building blocks of Positive Discipline classroom meetings are:
1. Forming a Circle
2. Giving Compliments
3. Creating an Agenda
4. Creating Communication Skills
5. Learning about Separate Realities
6. Problem Solving and Brainstorming through Role Playing
7. Recognizing the Four Reasons People Do What They Do
8. Applying Logical Consequences and Non-Punitive Solutions
Helping children understand what is expected from them Children, especially in the early grades, thrive on routines and procedures. Having routines and procedures does not mean that you have to be boring and totally predictable; it just means that your students know exactly what is expected of them in most situations and transitions. In kindergarten, you have to “teach” the children each procedure even if it seems silly. Teaching procedures and routines in your room will eliminate a multitude of behaviour problems and opportunities for chaos.