The Ultimate Guide to School Conflict Resolution

Teacher-To-Staff Conflict Resolution

Like in any job, conflict in education, particularly between teachers and administrative staff, is unavoidable. However, that doesn’t mean that it has to spell out major problems or frustrations for the entire school. You can utilize a few tips, tricks, and solutions to ensure that your administration and teachers are working harmoniously to create the most positive experience for staff and students alike.

Causes of Teacher to Staff Conflict 

There is an assortment of reasons why teachers and administrative staff may experience a conflict. Let’s take a look at three of the main reasons why you may experience tension in the work environment, and then look at some ways you can mitigate and resolve these issues peacefully and efficiently.

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Administration Issues

Many people may assume a school system is made up of one large staff. However, the truth is that teachers and administrative staff typically have their own work ecosystems that occasionally overlap and mainly exist peacefully alongside one another. Notice the word “mostly”- and because they are two separate entities, differences are bound to arise. Typically, these issues stem from the administration setting policies or routines into place that the teachers either disagree with or find hard to navigate. 

If you are a school administrator, communication is vital to ensuring that your teachers feel at ease and comfortable with the policies and rules you have set into place. Don’t spring new procedures or rules on them without adequate forewarning. Instead, bounce ideas off of them, and ensure they are made aware of any changes or new policies you are putting into place before actually doing so. 

Allocation of School Resources

As many in the education sector already know, school budgets are famously underfunded and have to be stretched thin. For this reason, frustration can arise when teachers of certain subjects may feel as though they are not getting the funding that they want or deserve. Unfortunately, this can create frustration for administrative staff as well, as they often have little control over the budget. Hosting school fundraisers for particular subjects or projects is a creative way to alleviate some of this pressure. 

Lack of Teacher Satisfaction

While teacher frustration often stems from school resources or the lack thereof, there are multiple other reasons why a teacher may feel unsatisfied with the support they are receiving from the school staff. Be sure to listen to your teachers and take all of their concerns seriously; downplaying or dismissing their problems and frustration will only cause resentment to grow and fester.

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Managing Teacher to Staff Conflict

Of course, there are other reasons why teacher and staff conflict may arise, but overall, the vast majority of issues will fall into one of the three aforementioned categories. So, next, let’s take a look at the best solutions you can utilize to ensure that your teachers and staff resolve their conflicts peacefully and productively.

Focus on School Community vs. Individuals 

Remember, your school is a community, one that is made up of teachers, staff, and students. While individual needs should remain important, the main focus should be on the school community instead of each individual. Think of your school as one large machine; it will only work correctly if all of the cogs are moving and contributing properly. 

Now, this doesn’t mean individual concerns should be dismissed. Instead, frame them in a way that reflects not only the individual but the school as a whole. It is important to stress the importance of everyone being a team player – not just the teachers. Administrative staff should also be mindful of how their actions reflect the sense of community you want to maintain in your school system. You want to avoid a “staff vs. teachers” mindset and instead move towards a “staff and teachers” mindset.

Keeping Conflict out of the Classroom

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that any and all conflicts need to be kept out of the classroom and far away from students. Learning is the most important goal for all staff and teachers working in a school system, and conflict, resentment, and frustration will only get in the way of this ultimate goal. 

To this end, make sure that all conversations that need to be had regarding conflicts and disagreements are done outside of the classroom and away from students. Not only this, but you will also want to ensure that the attitudes displayed by teachers and staff are positive and upbeat, both in and out of the classroom.

Create a Healthy Learning Environment for Students 

Keeping conflict out of the classroom is just one way to ensure that your learning environment is safe, healthy, and supportive for students. Teachers and staff alike will want to ensure that their interactions with students are positive, and learning is always first and foremost in their minds. The last thing anyone wants is for conflict to potentially disrupt the flow of the learning day.

Unfortunately, sometimes this will mean that you must “grin and bear it” in order to ensure that the students in your school are not negatively affected by the conflict that has arisen. This doesn’t mean one needs to be falsely upbeat or chipper; rather, keep your mind on the ultimate end goal, which is education. Your conversations, interactions, and attitudes should reflect this goal.

Request a Mediator for the Conflict 

One of the best solutions and resources school staff can utilize is a mediator. A mediator is a third-party force that can help successfully resolve conflict. Mediators are an invaluable tool because they can ensure that your staff and teachers resolve their issues in a healthy, constructive, and peaceful way. All too often, emotions and feelings can get in the way of logical solutions. Having a mediator present to keep everyone’s focus on the end game will help resolve complaints and frustrations in a timely and productive manner.

Don’t Take Conflict Personally

So, we just mentioned not letting emotions and feelings run your interactions. To that end, you will also want to make sure that you (and your staff) are not taking any conflict that arises personally. Any dispute handled at school should be work-related, so treat it as such. It is not an attack on your or anything to do with your personal life, but rather the way the workplace is run and how people are contributing and interacting. Check your personal feelings and emotions at the door and look at everything objectively.

Take the High Road (and Stay There!)

We know this isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but taking the high road is imperative when dealing with workplace conflict, especially in schools! Keep your interactions positive, even when you disagree with something. Never, ever resort to personal attacks or comments. Keep your concerns workplace-related only, and if you have a sensitive or personal matter that you feel is impeding on your ability to do your job, contact HR or a higher-up and discuss your concerns with them directly. 

Creating a Strong School Culture 

Support systems are essential in schools for staff, teachers, and students alike. You want to create a culture where people feel comfortable going to each other with questions, concerns, or disagreements. Remember, communication is key! Part of a healthy and strong school culture hinges on the ability to communicate effectively.

Practicing Conflict Resolution Strategies in School

Now that we’ve discussed a few general ideas, such as healthy communication, positive attitudes, and objectivity, it’s time to put those practices into place at the workplace. One of your most important resources will be utilizing a mediator or other third-party mitigation strategies. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you feel as though you are in a situation that cannot be effectively handled in-house.

Have a current school-related issue? Contact TEEN TRUTH today for More Conflict Mitigation Strategies.

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