Conflicts occur or exist in a classroom whenever there is occurrence of incompatible activities. An incompatible activity with another is one that blocks, prevents, or interferes with the occurrence of the subsequent activity. A conflict may be as big as a war or as small as a disagreement. Conflict can originate from an individual, two people or between groups (Weinstein & Evertson, 2006)
Conflicts in school can be classified as controversy, conceptual conflict, conflict of interests, or as development conflict. The value of a conflict is in the management of its resolution in a constructive manner. When conflicts are constructively managed, it leads to desirable outcomes which include higher quality of decision making, greater quality and quantity of achievements, creative problem solving, and complex reasoning (Shindler, 2009) Constructively managed conflicts also result in healthier social, cognitive, and psychological developments by making students able to deal with stressful conditions and deal with the unforeseen adversities.
Managing conflicts in schools entails creating a cooperative context within the students themselves. This involves creating a constructive resolution to the conflict through the ongoing relationships such as school and family situations. This involves making the disputants to recognize the fact their long term relationship is more important than the resultant of any short term conflict.
For the classroom long term mutual interest to be valued and recognized, individuals have to invest their energy in others wellbeing and interdependence. Incorporation of cooperative procedures of learning in the classroom on regular basis is necessary for constructive conflict resolution while at the same time helping students to the skill of social interaction which contributes to mutual conflict resolution.
Another way of managing conflict in a classroom is through the use of academic controversy in the classroom. Engaging students in intellectual conflicts helps the students to achieve complex reasoning techniques and this can help in avoiding physical and abusive conflicts (Kreider, 2005). This can be achieved through engaging students in persuasive presentations on their researched topics or organized debates. These debates are done and at the end of it, students come to one mutually agreed upon position from both opposing positions. Holding structured academic controversies in a classroom setup enable students to their conflict skills.
Another way of managing conflicts in classroom is through teaching students the virtue of being a peace maker. This is where students are taught how to mediate and negotiate and this helps them to gain experience that can enable them to develop considerable expertise when it comes to resolution of interpersonal conflicts in a constructive manner (Naomi, 2007). Teaching students to be peacemakers helps in creating discipline within the classroom thereby enabling them to control their own behavior.
As a way of managing conflict in a classroom, students are taught how to negotiate in order to help them in solving conflicts individually. Students should be able to speak with honesty regarding their opinions and feelings regarding the conflict.
It is important to give students skills that can enable them to express and resolve their conflicts on their own. Teachers should help students to develop their sense of responsibility self, self esteem, and a sense of responsibility.
Kreider, W. (2005). Creative Conflict Resolution. US. McGraw-Hill.
Weinstein, S. & Evertson, C. (2006). Handbook of Classroom Management. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Shindler, J. (2009). Transformation Classroom Management: Positive Strategies to Engage All Students and Promote a Psychology of Success. US, John Wiley and Sons.
Naomi, D (2007). Learning the Skills of Peacemaking. San Francisco, Jalmar Press.