If you have ever had to buy sandpaper, you might have found yourself overwhelmed by the many types available. You may not have known that the particles on sandpaper come in a variety of sizes and in a variety of material types. You may not have known that each size and material type is used to accomplish a different kind of sanding from rough sanding (extra-coarse grade) to final finish (ultra-fine grade). With some brief instruction from a salesperson or a kind-hearted old timer, you would quickly understand the differences and be able to select the most useful type of sandpaper for your project.
Students engaging in a collaborative learning environment will often find themselves in conflict with one another. Conflict resolution skills are a lot like sandpaper. There are many different varieties, and students will need some instruction about how to apply them in order to smooth out the rough edges they are encountering. In the article 14 Conflict Resolution Skills to Use with Your Team and Your Customers, author Swetha Amaresan walks us through a variety of suggestions related to resolving people conflicts (https://blog.hubspot.com/service/conflict-resolution-skills). Many of these could be easily adapted and taught in your classroom:
- Listen for understanding.
- Allow others to fully frame their perspective without blame.
- Actively listen. Don’t interrupt; just listen.
- Use “I” statements as opposed to “you” statements.
- Maintain calm.
- Look for common ground and areas of potential compromise.
- Say it at the table. Don’t talk about someone or their ideas behind their backs.
- A difference of opinion or perspective is not a personal attack.
- Watch for nonverbal cues. Body language can speak as loudly as words.
- Prioritize resolution over being right.
- Apologize and forgive when appropriate.
- Stay focused on the issue at the moment. Today’s conflict is not yesterday’s conflict.
- Use humor when appropriate.
- Protect and build the relationship.
As you implement collaborative learning in your classroom, there will be some conflict. Help those moments to become productive friction that turns passionate clashes into opportunities for further polishing. You and your students will be glad you did!