The Ultimate Guide to School Conflict Resolution

Teacher-To-Administration Conflict Resolution

Schools are more than a workplace; they are a cultural system deeply tied to every aspect of our society. One of the most important functions of schools is to create a cohesive environment for students to learn, explore, and grow. Yet, schools are run by regular people with human flaws. These human flaws often result in conflicts between teachers and school administrators.

The conflicts that arise between teachers and principals can be harmful to students’ learning environment and damage the school culture. Thankfully, effective conflict management can turn interpersonal issues into creative solutions, stronger relationships, and a healthy atmosphere for student growth.

This article will review the common triggers for administrator-teacher conflicts and highlight some ways to turn these situations into a net positive for your school.

Reasons for Teacher-Administration Conflict

The push and pull between the teachers and administration can lead to frequent conflicts. There are a variety of reasons why conflict arises between teachers and administrators. Below are some of the common causes of conflict between teachers and their principals, counselors, administrators, and school district leadership:

  • Lack of administrative support in availability, time, training, and other resources
  • Dictatorial tendencies of school administrators trying to enforce new policies
  • Poor physical working conditions
  • Strict deadlines and lack of communication on projects
  • Tenured teachers going against a younger, newer principal
  • Unpopular changes at the state, county, or district level
  • Differences in opinions on teaching styles and education techniques
  • Unreasonable success expectations and teacher evaluations
  • Changes in the number of students per class
  • Differences in perceptions of issues, politics, ethics, and beliefs
  • Response to how specific issues in the school are handled
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School Leadership Style and Changes in Policies

Differences in leadership style, especially for a new administrator, can ruffle some feathers for longer-tenured teachers in a school setting. In addition, change can be tricky if a teacher has been in the school for a long time, so administrators might be met with resistance when changes are being implemented.

Allocation of Scarce Resources in School

Conflict can arise because budget allocations can seem partial or unfair to other departments. Administrators are in a tough spot for budget allocations because they are only given a limited pool of money to divvy up among all departments. Each department’s needs are different, and the allocation process might seem unfair to particular teachers or departments, bringing about conflict.

Supplies distribution goes hand in hand with the allocation of scarce resources in the school. When it comes to distributing supplies, some teachers might think they are getting the short end of the stick. It is up to the principal or administrator to make hard decisions regarding scarce supplies and funding, which can be met with opposition from the teachers if administrators do not handle the situation with transparency. 

Lack of Communication between Teachers and Administration

A good point of emphasis for a cohesive relationship between teachers and admin staff is the importance of setting up effective communication channels. Conflict can arise when there’s poor communication between the teachers and administration. If the lines of communication are not open, two-way, and free-flowing, it can lead to confusion and create misunderstandings.

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Ways to Manage Teacher to Administration Conflict

Conflict is unavoidable, and there are a variety of triggers that can lead to these disputes. But, at its core, conflict is neither positive nor negative. Healthily addressing conflicts can be constructive and serve as an essential building block in creating a better school culture. When teacher-administration disputes are resolved, both parties can feel satisfied with the outcome and lead to a stronger relationship that addresses potential conflicts more effectively in the future.

Below are a variety of tools and techniques to consider when resolving conflicts between teachers and school administrations.

Creating a Culture of Support for Teachers

When it comes to new changes, some teachers might not be that adaptable or welcoming to new rules implemented by the administration. If one teacher is having a problem, the issue likely affects other teachers who may be afraid to speak up. One of the main reasons for conflict is that teachers do not feel supported or that the administration is ignoring their opinions and experience. To counter this resistance, schools can create a culture of support from the administration. This support system should be readily available for all teachers.

Having a support system will enable teachers to make sure their opinions are heard and valued. This makes teachers want to be more involved and fosters a shared community among teachers and administrators.

Focusing on School Community over Individuals

Fostering the idea of being one united community is essential in schools because it eliminates the “us vs. them” attitude between teachers and admin. Remembering the bigger picture and a shared mission is vital to unity and cooperation within a school building. In this scenario, everybody is on the same page with the end goals that they are trying to meet. As a result, administrators focusing on building a community in their school will win the teachers over when it comes to initially unpopular decisions.

Communication is Key

The first step in any conflict resolution scenario is to identify and vocalize the root of the problem. It is essential that both parties completely understand the issue and hear each other’s perspectives about the situation. 

Communication is essential in any relationship. There should be an avenue for the teachers and administrators to talk to each other and discuss their issues to develop a viable solution. Keeping open lines of communication helps both parties feel involved in resolving the issue. 

Set Clear Expectations for Teachers and Administrators

It is also vital to set clear expectations when communicating. Having clear expectations will help prevent the conflict from escalating to another level. Both parties have to conduct themselves professionally, whether in the classroom, hallway, principal’s office, or outside of school. Foul language should never be tolerated from either party. Both sides should remember that they are airing grievances about a specific situation, idea, behavior, action, or process change – NOT because they are attacking the other person.

Bring in a Third Party if Possible

Sometimes it is hard for the two parties to hear each other and reasoning goes out the window, especially in the height of conflict when emotions are high. If the problem cannot be solved by people who are involved, sometimes the only way to solve it is to get help from a third-party mediator who is neutral and impartial. The mediator can be another teacher, people from other departments, or administrators from different schools who have faced a similar issue. 

Getting an outsider’s point of view is a great way to bring in a fresh perspective to the problem and offer a different viewpoint that might not have been brought up before. Involving a third party is beneficial because they can be objective and hopefully pave the way towards a resolution. A third-party mediator will aim to compromise between the two parties and foster cooperation between the teachers and school administrators.

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More Resources For Resolving Teacher and Administration Conflict

Having a solid culture regarding the school is the responsibility of teachers and administrators. A strong school culture means that everybody is on the same page regarding the school’s mission to educate and provide a safe environment for students. Contact TEEN TRUTH today for more information and resources to resolve any school conflicts.

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