The timing of applying conflict resolution strategies through communication came quite handy being in a working community who come from different contexts, with a variety of educational orientation.
This week, a few disagreements arose between two colleagues who team-teach in a Grade one class. The issues encompass teaching of Literacy, Math, and an inquiry on systems. The situated escalated to one of the teachers walking out in the middle of the teaching, and both parties going to different people to seek affirmation. In the middle of these conflicts are children who become confused when teachers disagree in front of them and lose their learning time because their teachers were too preoccupied asserting their points instead of thinking of ways to teach the children effectively.
The saga of the conflicts finally reached my table where the three of us sat and talked about the situation. Before each of them was asked to share their perspectives, the expectations for the discussion were clarified. First, the person who will talk will focus on the issue of concern, and not the character of the other. Second, the person speaking must not be interrupted. Third, we will focus on how we will achieve the objective – teaching the children in ways that will be more beneficial to them and not simply to assert what each teacher wants.
During the conversation, a number of agreements were developed. To demonstrate
empathy for each other, they will listen respectfully to each other’s ideas instead of listening to counter the point. As well, although one disagrees with what the other is doing, they will still support each other when working with the children and sit together at the end of the day to reflect how the teaching could be better. Thus, the both have to navigate the options that would promote the interests the children. The highlight of the agreement was based on the Thirdside’s (n.d.) concept.
“The first is to prevent destructive conflict from emerging in the first place by addressing latent tensions. The second is to resolve any overt conflicts which do develop. The third is to contain any escalating power struggles that temporarily escape resolution. What is not prevented is resolved; and what is not resolved is contained. The motto of the Third Side is thus: “Contain if necessary, resolve if possible, best of all prevent.”
The disagreement may not be resolved quickly as both parties will need to have a change of heart to be open to recognise that they have different perspectives and such differences can be prevented, resolved or contained if they change their mindset by being respectful, responsive and reciprocal.
The Third Side. (n.d.). The third side. Retrieved from http://www.thirdside.org/