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Modeling Conflict Resolution in the Classroom

We cannot avoid classroom conflicts; we can only manage them. And in most instances, managing conflict constructively and creating conflict resolution processes results in realizing values, acknowledging attitudes, and developing new approaches to life. It's essentially another helpful lesson! That's why schools should teach and guide students on positive ways to approach conflict by developing school-based conflict management models and changing school systems into conflict-positive organizations.

You can help your students keep the peace and equip them with essential life skills. All it takes is proactive practices and the proper channels.

Conflict Resolution Techniques You Can Apply In The Classroom

Modeling is an age-old approach to teaching children ideal behaviors. Teachers mostly use it to illustrate ways to resolve a rising dispute peacefully and empathize with the parties involved. The goal is to establish transparent conflict resolution processes to empower the students to learn from their/others' mistakes. 

1. Acknowledging Problems As Soon As They Happen

It may be tempting to ignore a student or students' recurring fights or conflicts with others. However, establishing a solution for these problems as soon they happen will benefit the students and create a peaceful, positive learning environment for the entire class.

2. Teach Conflict Resolution Even Before Issues Arise

Prevention is the best preparation, so it's a worthwhile contribution to students (and you) to set time aside in the curriculum to teach and demonstrate effective conflict resolution techniques. Proactively teach students the necessary skills to work cooperatively and solve problems at home and school. Do not wait for a classroom crisis to work on peacemaking.

As soon as the school year starts, teach students how their actions impact their surroundings and the community and how to properly express their emotions. Perhaps introduce classroom rules for resolving issues. Advise them to speak with you about the problem first, or you can create a designated "cool off" space if a student is upset. Whatever you decide to do, try to incorporate some of the following into your conflict resolution lessons. 

  • Making the students understand how their actions influence others, negatively and positively.
  • Teach them active listening skills.
  • Help students set goals and communicate their needs while working in groups. Team exercises (beyond classwork) can help build trust and cooperation.
  • Help students identify triggers like anxiety, fear, or frustration. Teach them how to acknowledge and manage frustration in healthy ways, like mindful activities or reflection.

3. Instilling Mediation Practices

Mediation curricula provide learners and adults a chance to non-violently and fairly resolve their disagreements. A mediator, in this case, a teacher, makes a safe space in which the parties involved can effectively listen to each other and identify the real problems. They can then put their heads together and discuss alternatives on the best way to handle their arguments. You do not necessarily need to impose a solution.

Listen to the parties involved and let them communicate freely and respectfully. Afterward, let the students come up with ways to create better relationships amongst themselves. If possible, help them create solutions and understand why the solution works. To hold them accountable, follow up after some time and see how they handle the process.

You can involve the following kinds of mediation in the classroom:

Student-Teacher Mediation Programs

In most instances, this is an extension of convention between an adult and a student, usually involving behavioral issues, respect issues, characters, and other conflicts that may negatively affect teacher-student relationships.

Student Peer Mediation Programs

Here, you can select trained and mature students to help their fellow peers through their disputes. Train at least 10-20 students in the school and let them act as mediators. They can carry out mediation sessions wherever both parties feel comfortable. Such programs allow students to express themselves without feeling pressured to be someone else for their teacher.

Teacher-Staff Mediation/ Special Education Programs

Use adult and experienced mediators to assist with disciplinary actions, develop suitable programs for students with special needs, and absenteeism.

4. Assist An Angry Student

Sometimes a teacher needs to intervene and pull aside an angry student. As tempting as it may be, stay calm, gracious, and control your feelings. Speak clearly and calmly while keeping eye contact to show that you are paying attention and with the best intentions. You are the adult and must model good behavior.

If the student doesn't want to talk, offer to schedule a different time and place to speak privately. After that, acknowledge the student's rage and let them talk openly without interruption while nodding your head as a sign of listening and paying attention. After letting them talk, and without disagreeing in any form, summarize and clarify your understanding of what the student said.

A solution to this child would be calming them down progressively by using open-ended questions to clearly understand what may have been the cause of anger. Lastly, help the student develop solutions to the problem and reassure students when they present a rational explanation that could help them.

5.  Create a Harmonious Classroom/ Environment

This model assumes that classroom management is at its core a part of conflict management. Conflict management in the classroom involves an educator establishing rules, consequences for those who fail to follow the rules, and creating a specific way of handling disputes.

Once the students understand and implement these practices, they will appreciate and use essential problem-solving skills. It encourages trust among students and teachers, cooperation and teamwork, and peaceful interactions between students. 


Conflict management skills are necessary for students, especially because they are in a naturally social environment at school. Anything as simple as a mere misunderstanding between friends, colleagues, or family members can create conflicts. Therefore, in times of agreement and disagreement, establishing collaborative relationships in the classroom can lead to peaceful co-existence and consolidative solutions. 

At times students may find the conflict resolution process difficult—even adults struggle with conflict resolution. They may struggle to express themselves or not take the process seriously. When this is the case, remind them that conflict is an opportunity to learn important lessons about being kind, showing compassion, and being cooperative. 

Written by Violet Koth

Education World Contributor

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