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Classroom Management: A Teacher’s Guide to Resolving School Conflict

Janelle Cox

As much as you try to avoid it in your classroom, conflicts will arise. You can even have one of the best classroom management plans in the school, and you’re still bound to come across conflicts at some point. Luckily, you can help students learn to manage conflict effectively so your classroom can run more smoothly. By equipping children with conflict resolution strategies, you’re able to give them the tools they need in order to become more effective at resolving conflicts for themselves. Use the following classroom management plan for resolving conflicts in your classroom.

Classroom Management Steps to Take

According to the website Good Character, in order to resolve conflict without fighting, there are a few steps students need to take before they should ask for assistance in resolving the conflict. They are:

  1. Stop what you are doing so the conflict doesn’t escalate.
  2. Talk about what is causing the disagreement and what each party wants to get out of it.
  3. Think about the options and how you can meet the needs of one another in a fair way.
  4. Choose a positive option that each party can agree on.

If these steps do not work, then students should ask for helping in resolving the problem.

Understanding Emotions

In order for students to be able to deal with conflict when it arises, they need to understand their emotions. Ask students to think about how they feel when they are in a conflict. For younger students, you can give them a feelings chart so they can point to their emotions. Next ask students how these feelings make them want to react. Discuss how channeling their emotions so they don’t escalate can help them deal with conflict better. By using constructive strategies like taking a minute to think about how they are feeling so they can think about how to react, students will be better able to deal with conflict.

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Classroom Activities

Here are a few classroom activities that can help instill conflict resolution into your learning environment.

Conflict Resolution Poster

Have students pair together to create a conflict resolution poster using the Canva app. Each team’s purpose is to come up with a peaceful slogan, such as “Tackle the Problem, Not the Person” or “Don’t Fight, Do What’s Right.” You can find more slogan ideas on Creducation.

Approaches to Conflict

Students learn about the different approaches to conflict such as avoiding, controlling, compromising, accommodating, and collaborating. Then they are presented with different conflict scenarios in which they must discuss within a group how they would approach each situation. If the group chooses an incorrect approach, then as a class discuss why it was not an ideal approach and which approach would work better for that scenario. Here is an example scenario:

Maddy and Reesa are best friends and have the same birthday. When they find out they have both planned their birthday party on the same day and have invited the same guests, they get upset. They can either order their friends to choose which party they want to attend or compromise and have one big party. Which conflict approach would you use in this scenario? Avoiding, controlling, comprising, accommodating or collaberating?

The Art of Negotiation

For this activity, students learn how to negotiate with one another in order to resolve a conflict. First, discuss how negotiation is a process in which each party agrees upon strategies that will resolve the conflict. Next, have students think about a real-life situation that they are facing or have faced in the past and how they would (or did) approach the negotiation. Have students think about the situation and think about what they want out of it before they start to negotiate. Once they get the hang of it, you can put them into pairs and give them a scenario to try to work through. During their role-playing, they must use the following negotiation tips to them resolve the conflict:

  • Look at the situation piece by piece.
  • Tackle the easiest issue first followed by the harder issue.
  • Ask yourself what you want to happen.
  • Ask yourself what you are willing to accept.
  • Think about what the best and worst possible outcome is.

Talk about how sometimes students will need to use more than one approach in a single conflict. For example, they need to avoid someone in order to cool down for a few minutes, then they can begin to compromise or collaborate.

When there are conflicts in the classroom, students should be able to try and resolve them first on their own before asking for help. Then they should take a moment to think about how they are feeling, choose an approach, and try and negotiate a resolution. If none of these strategies work, then they should ask for help.

What conflict resolution strategies do you use in your classroom? 


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds master’s of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, Graduateprogram.org, and Hey Teach. She was also the elementary education expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.