It’s about Relationships: Creating Positive School Climates

When teachers wonder “What should I do?” in response to challenging student behaviors, the answers are not as simple as they might seem. What teachers can do also depends, at least in part, on external demands (e.g., discipline codes, principal expectations, time pressures on teaching content and testing) that can either facilitate or thwart positive resolutions of conflicts. The most effective teachers in working with challenging students had very positive relationships with them. For years, many school districts have provided training or support around positive discipline but with little evidence of improving the culture of punishment that pervades many New York City schools. This author found that most educators were not directly trained in the strategies their schools were trying to implement. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a tiered framework of positive behavior systems in a school. Success depends on having clear expectations that are taught, rehearsed, and reinforced consistently across settings. In spring 2012, The Atlantic Philanthropies awarded a three-year, $300,000 grant to the consortium that helped cover start-up costs, technology, and professional development. With this grant, the consortium has sought to support schools regarding student behavior. This was the beginning of what would become the Positive Learning Collaborative (PLC), an initiative jointly run by the United Federation of Teachers and the New York City Department of Education to help educators create positive school environments. The Positive Learning Collaborative (PLC) is a holistic approach that focuses on teaching reflective and restorative practices and was implemented in the New York City school system. To that end, educators are coached to be mindful of their own internal dialogue and to teach students coping skills to deal with feelings such as anger and frustration.

Recommended Guidelines for Effective Conflict Resolution Education Programs

These Recommended Guidelines for Effective Conflict Resolution Education Programs, released in 2002, are the product of work begun by a committee of the Conflict Resolution Education Network (CREnet) and completed by the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR). The Guidelines outline how elementary and secondary school teachers, administrators, conflict resolution education practitioners, and policy makers can measure progress toward effective conflict resolution education programs. By addressing core goals, components, content and qualities of effective school-based conflict resolution education programs, these Guidelines are intended to also help leaders to make decisions about the resources and strategies needed to support such educational programs in their schools.

Circle Time Poster

This poster, designed for use with primary age students in the U.K., is an aid to those who use circle time and provides useful reminders for children to ensure the sessions are positive and productive.

Leading a Workshop on Conflict Management for Teaching Assistants

Article Abstract: The aim of this article is to share a conflict management workshop that the authors developed to train teaching assistants to proactively manage conflict, achieve productive results for conflict, and establish a climate of trust in which relationships beneficial to learning can flourish. The article begins by defining an approach to conflict management and explaining the rationale behind the workshop. A detailed plan of the workshop is then presented. Finally, results are reported of a “before the workshop” and “after the workshop” survey from two recent groups of workshop participants that shows improved perceived ability to deal effectively with conflict.

Coaching Children in Handling Everyday Conflicts

This newsletter article from the Responsive Classroom provides an example of a teacher assisting two second grade students as they work to resolve a conflict in the moment. Five basic skills are focused on to help build children’s capacity for conflict resolution. These include:
– Cooling off when upset
– Speaking directly to each other
– Speaking assertively, honestly, and kindly
– Listening carefully to others and accurately paraphrasing their words
– Proposing solutions and agreeing on a solution to try

The author explains the importance of using the teachable moment: “Beginning with the first days of the school year, students have predictable conflicts about sharing materials, choosing work partners, or deciding whom to play with. These are times when you can teach the basic skills by guiding the children in navigating a difficult interpersonal moment. You’ll send a strong message about how disagreements will be handled in your class. You’ll also give children opportunities to experience themselves as problem-solvers in situations that really matter to them.”

How to Have a Conference – Coloring Book

An 8-page pdf coloring book written and illustrated by Friends School of Minnesota 5th grader Patrick Raines. It is designed to introduce students to the conference meeting (conflict resolution meeting) used by the school to resolve student disputes.

Getting to Know You – Classroom Activities for Starting Off the School Year from Morningside Center

As a new school year begins, teachers and students renew relationships after the long summer break, see new faces, and establish their routines for the year. The activities in this packet are designed to help you get the year off to a good start by engaging you and your students in getting to know each other, practicing listening skills, and discussing the values that will shape your classroom community. There are separate sets of activities for grades Pre-K to 2, grades 3 to 5, and grades 6 to 12. They are adapted from exercises in the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program and the 4Rs Program (Reading, Writing, Respect & Resolution) developed by the Morningside Center.

Conflict resolution protocol for elementary classrooms, A

4-page PDF excerpt from the book, “The First Six Weeks of School” which discusses teaching conflict resolution, “a basic belief underlying The Responsive Classroom® approach to teaching is that how children learn to treat one another is as important as what they learn in reading, writing, and arithmetic. We believe that social skills such as cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and selfcontrol are essential to children’s academic and social success and we emphasize the teaching of these skills, along with academics, throughout the school day. There are many strategies we use to teach these social skills at the elementary level (K-6), one of which is teaching a protocol for conflict resolution.”

A Comparison of Two Models Used to Predict Student Strategy Choice for Classroom Conflicts

Although the topic of conflict has received much attention in communication literature, the topic of conflicts between students and teachers has not. The purpose of this dissertation was twofold: to examine what classroom conflicts exist between students and teachers, and to determine which of two existing model best predicts conflict strategy choices for students. In communication literature, there is a divide in how conflict resolution is examined. Some researchers do so using communication predispositions such as argumentativeness, verbal aggressiveness, communication anxiety, and communication competence as a basis for predicting conflict strategies. Other researchers predict strategies from the perspective of attributions made in conflict episodes. In this research, two studies were conducted. First, 710 students were asked to identify conflicts they had experienced with classroom teachers. These conflicts were coded and categories of classroom conflicts emerged around the themes of class/work conflicts and teacher personality conflicts. From these responses, a new instrument for studying conflict, the Student-Teacher Conflict Index, was developed. In the second study, 171 students were presented with the new index which contained several hypothetical classroom conflicts. The students were asked to identify how they would respond in each situation. Discriminant analyses were conducted to determine whether a communication predisposition model or an attributional model best predicted students’ strategy choices. A mixed model was determined to best predict strategies with the trait of verbal aggressiveness, and attributions of responsibility, stability, and personal control being the strongest predictors. Additionally, it was determined that strategy choice seemed to influence channel selection: More students who chose distributive strategies selected mediated channels to communicate than did students who chose integrative strategies. Most of the hypotheses involving communication predispositions and strategy choice were supported, while the hypotheses involving attributions and strategy choice were not. These results were interpreted and discussed. Following this, suggestions for future research are proposed. Examining teachers’ approaches to conflict, or examining the affect of culture on classroom conflict are two examples of ways that this research could be developed further.

Conflict Resolution Education in Indonesia: Mapping Adaptations and Meanings

This study, available as a pdf, examined the ways professors in teacher education departments in two universities in East Java translated and adapted Conflict Resolution Education (CRE) methods. To map the ways they adapted and understood cooperative learning (CL) and non-coercive classroom management (NCCM), a critical ethnography (a blend of ethnography and action research) was done based on Carspecken’s (1996) design. It was conducted from October 2004 to February 2008 in two universities in East Java. The results were based upon field work that included passive and participatory observations, semi-structured interviews, document analysis, surveys, and critical dialogues with primary informants. Analysis was framed using Roger’s (1995) diffusion stages. Findings indicated that although there were some very serious challenges to the adoption of these two innovations, there were points where bridges could be built in both practice and understanding. Barriers included informants’ struggles to shift from teacher-centered to student-centered instruction while still maintaining culturally prescribed expressions of authority. Related themes were challenges instructors encountered in engaging students through facilitation practices and reciprocal communication.

Conflict resolution workshop

Website hosted by CanTeach (a site created to assist teachers in finding and using resources online) which introduces the concept of conflict resolution and shows educators how one can recognize and solve problems in the classroom, handouts and practice scenarios are provided.

Class Meetings as a Tool for Classroom Management and Character Development: An Annotated Bib

Classroom management literature emphasizes non-punitive methods of managing a classroom of students, suggesting that democratic class meetings are an important or central element to developing student character. Class meetings are presented as a method of teaching children problem solving skills, conflict resolution, and a means for encouraging character education through intrinsic motivation and self regulation in academics and behavior. This annotated bibliography presents a list of resources for teachers seeking ways to increase character education through classroom management techniques. (Contains 1 note and 19 references.)

Teaching presence

Pdf document offering guidance for teachers to be present in the moment and teach with an open heart, “good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.” Written above title on document: NCIP (National Curriculum Integration Project).