Managing Classroom Conflict

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A. "Getting Started with Managing Classroom Conflict" (post) lists "strategies that instructors have used to create a safe classroom environment and to manage conflict as it arises."

See also:

B. The Specific Suggestions

1. "Understand What Incivility Is & Why it Happens"

  • "Reflect on both your own and your students’ expectations for behavior in the classroom."
  • "Realize that students come to class with their own biases, experiences, and relationships with learning that may influence their reaction to you and your class."
  • "Know that if incivilities are not dealt with properly, it has negative impacts on student learning."

2. "General Strategies for Handling Conflict in Classrooms"

  • "Rather than avoid potentially charged course content, anticipate conflict and be prepared to respond."
  • "SOAR (stop, observe, assess, react)."
  • "Acknowledge emotions ('I see that you’re upset,' or 'I understand that this is a powerful topic for you')."
  • "Think of the moment as a learning opportunity and present it as such to students."
  • "Focus dialogue on academic concepts rather than personal opinions."
  • "Give students a few minutes to write a personal response to the situation. Collect these and prepare a response in the next class."
  • "Listen and restate perspectives, especially if one student is receiving all of the heat ('What I think ____ is trying to say is...')."
  • "Meet individually with students if necessary."

3. "If Students are Behaving in a Disruptive Manner ... "

  • "Observe and control your emotional reaction to feelings of being challenged or threatened."
  • "Be aware of your body language and what you are communicating through your actions."
  • "Address behaviors, not people."
  • "Uphold class norms. Address issues that arise each and every time and remain consistent in how you deal with students. Refer to your own class guidelines."
  • "Ask to speak to student(s) in private."

4. "When Meeting Privately with Students ..."

  • "Ask students to explain what occurred."
  • "Listen empathetically. Acknowledge emotions by repeating what you understand their issues to be."
  • "With student(s), brainstorm possible solutions."
  • "Help students evaluate these solutions through comprehensive problem solving."

5. "Create a Safe & Effective Learning Environment"

  • "Get to know students’ names and interests and be open to telling them a bit about yourself."
  • "Be available for office hours."
  • "Take a few minutes before and after class to interact with students."
  • "Dedicate time for community building and peer learning opportunities (i.e., ice breakers, group work)."
  • "Have students create their own goals for the class."
  • "Make your course relevant by connecting course content to the 'real world.'"
  • "Include a non-discrimination policy in your syllabus."
  • "Use your syllabus as a “class contract” and include guidelines for group work and classroom interactions."
  • "Share authority by getting students’ feedback about classroom guidelines and incorporate their contributions."

6. "Use Inclusive Teaching Practices"

  • "Communicate clear expectations."
  • "Incorporate diversity in choosing what texts, films, etc. students will encounter during the course."
  • "Use a variety of teaching strategies that reach different learning modalities."
  • "Provide various methods for students to demonstrate learning."
  • "Learn about/reflect upon the various social identities that make up your class. Monitor how these dynamics play out in your classroom setting."
  • "Critically reflect on your teaching practice."
  • "Assess classroom climate periodically. Have students respond to prompts anonymously on index cards that you can collect easily for review. Some sample prompts:"
    • "I feel comfortable participating in class: Yes; Always; Sometimes; Never"
    • "One thing that would help me be more comfortable is: ___________."

7. "Setting up & Managing Group Work"

  • "Arrange groups with intention (mix of skills, identities, and personalities). In large classes, assign randomly."
  • "Create tasks that encourage interdependence."
  • "Have groups create their own plans for approaching the task and dealing with potential conflict."
  • "Include self and peer assessment as a small part of the evaluation (ratings for group work effectiveness)."
  • "Assign roles within the group and switch roles throughout."

8. "Additional Key Actions"

a. "Six Key Actions for Active Listening"

  • "Mirror/Paraphrase."
  • "Check for understanding."
  • "Probe for information and feelings."
  • "Encourage/Show empathy."
  • "Summarize."
  • "Show verbal and non-verbal attentiveness."

b. "Five Key Actions for Constructive Feedback"

  • "Convey your positive intent."
  • "Describe specifically what you have observed."
  • "State the impact of the behavior or actions."
  • "Ask the other person to respond."
  • "Focus the discussion on solutions (not blame)."

c. S"ix Key Actions for Resolving Conflict"

  • "Recognize emotions."
  • "Briefly describe the problem and share your positive intentions."
  • "Actively listen and seek FIRST to understand."
  • "Share your perspective of the problem and the impact."
  • "Work together on an action plan or next steps."
  • "Check for progress and express thanks."
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