Managing Classroom Conflict
Collaboration tactics include:
1. Description: Say: “I’ve noticed that your grades have declined this term” instead of
“You must not have been working this term.”
2. Disclosure: Say: “You don’t have any way to know this, but past experience leads me to conclude that students have trouble finishing incompletes. So I am against this practice” instead of “You‘ll never finish it.”
3. Negative Inquiry: Say: “You said you were disappointed with the class. What makes you say that?” instead of “You should have read the course outline more carefully.”
4. Emphasizing common interests: Say: “I know both of us are interested in your doing well in the course. How are you studying for the exams?” instead of “I can’t help you if you don’t study.”
Positive versus Negative Language
Positive Language Negative Language
Close the door quietly. Don’t slam the door.
Try to work this out on your own without help. Don’t cheat by copying from your neighbour.
Quiet down – you’re getting too loud. Don’t make so much noise.
Sharpen your pencil like this… That’s not how you use a pencil sharpener.
Please sit up straight. Don’t slouch in your chair.
When you finish, put the scissors in the box and bits of paper in the wastebasket. Don’t leave a mess.
Stop fighting over those crayons.
Don’t just read your report to us.
Take time when you’re doing the experiment or you’ll mess it up.
Don’t just guess.
Differences between Consequences and Punishments
Rule: All trash must be placed in the waste basket or recycle container.
Pick your trash up off the floor. Punishment:
Apologize to the teacher in front of the whole class.
Rule: Tests and homework must be completed by you unless group work is assigned. There is no copying another student’s work.
Do the test or homework again under supervision. Punishment:
Copy 100 times: “I will not copy another student’s work.”
Rule: No talking when someone else is talking. If you want to speak, wait until the current speaker is finished.
Wait five minutes before speaking. Punishment:
Sitting in the hall for the entire period.
Conferencing with a Disruptive Student
Follow these guidelines during a conference with a student:
1. Clearly “own” your messages by using first person singular pronouns: I, my.
• Personal ownership includes clearly taking responsibility for the ideas and feelings that are expressed. People disown their messages when they use terms like “most people,” and “our group.”
2. Make your messages complete and specific.
• Include clear statements of all necessary information the student needs in order to comprehend the message.
3. Make your verbal and nonverbal messages congruent.
• Every face-to-face communication involves both verbal and nonverbal messages.
• Usually these messages are congruent; for example, if a person says you have done a great job, they usually will smile or have a pleasant expression.
• Communication problems arise when the verbal and nonverbal messages are contradictory.
4. You should be redundant.
• Repeating your messages more than once and using more than one channel of communication (such as pictures and written messages as well as verbal and nonverbal cues) will help the student understand your messages.
5. Make sure the feedback you give is helpful and nonthreatening.
• Focus your feedback on the person’s behaviour, not their personality.
o You might say: “You talked too much in class” instead of “You really are a loudmouth.”
• Focus your feedback on the specific situation rather than on abstract behaviour.
• Focus your feedback on your perceptions and feelings rather than on giving advice.
(Adapted from Cooper, 1995)