The last couple of months of the school year can be a tricky time in 5th grade. With state testing behind us and graduation looming, nerves about the transition to middle school sky rocket. This is the time of year when I find myself engaged in conversations with my colleagues about classroom community. There is such a strong emphasis on building community the first couple of months of the school year, but as the school year progresses this inevitably falls by the wayside. As the school year winds down, I realize that what my fifth graders really need to ensure the cohesiveness of our community is effective conflict resolution strategies.
A friend of mine recommended reading How to Talk So Kids Can Learn by Adele Faber, Elaine Mazlish, Lisa Nyberg, and Rosalyn Anstine Templeton.
This book is a great resource for student teachers or new teachers. It addresses the most common situations teachers encounter in their classrooms, including challenging behaviors, effective communication with students and their parents, and conflicts.
The part of the text that I found the most interesting was the chapter about conflict resolution. It includes a series of simple steps to navigating conflict:
- Listen the the feelings and needs of the person/people
- Summarize their point(s) of view
- Express your own feelings and needs
- Brainstorm possible solutions (without evaluating)
- Make a plan, including a time to follow up
This process is so straightforward that in addition to utilizing it myself in the coming school year, I’m considering ways to adapt it for student use.
In the coming weeks I am going to continue exploring conflict resolution and I will be sure to share what strategies I decide to implement this school year.