The Ultimate Guide to School Conflict Resolution

Teacher-To-Teacher Conflict Resolution

Serving in education is one of the most selfless and community-focused careers that an individual can pursue. Teachers support and guide school policies play an integral role in shaping our children’s future and the world they will inherit. Despite this, however, teaching is a job like any other; teachers are employees, and, like any workplace, schools have plenty of potential for staff conflict.

Schools can be ripe for conflict among teachers, other staff members, and even students. While some disputes can be healthy, other sources of conflict can permanently damage relationships. The stress of teaching can get to even the most seasoned educators. There are some typical causes of conflict in education that are unique to teachers. In this guide, we will discuss some of the situations that cause conflict among teachers and how to resolve them.

Causes of Teacher-to-Teacher Conflict in Schools

Conflicts at school are bound to happen, but teaching is different from most other professions and workplaces. Teachers must remain agreeable, for the most part, in front of their students. Teaching differs from a typical office job, where parties can more directly, and sometimes publicly, address conflicts. The nature of the classroom environment requires conflict resolution to occur elsewhere or during particular windows of time without students present. But why do conflicts arise between teachers, and what are the triggers for these problems? Below, we will dive into some of the common causes of conflict for teachers. 

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Lack of Administrative Support

Education, like most professions, requires dynamic collaboration between teachers and other faculty members. For teachers to successfully operate in this type of environment, schools need to provide strong administrative support. Unfortunately, amazing principals and strong district leadership are not always present in certain schools or even some districts.

If a school system does not have good principals, teachers can find themselves pitted in conflict with other teachers. The lack of a solid administrative team can also make an existing conflict worse due to ineffective mediation.

On the other hand, when a school or district sets unreasonable expectations on staff performance, there is also a much greater chance of disagreements between faculty members. Other issues can arise from poor infrastructure planning and the misallocation of scarce resources that cause disputes between different teachers.

School Planning, Structure, and Organization

As with any organization, planning and structure are critical to a school’s health. This notion is especially true when it comes to intra-staff relations. Schools without clear short-term and long-term plans can create a chaotic and stressful work environment for teachers. In addition, without an effective organizational strategy and common direction for the school, conflicts can arise between teachers that try to set their agenda. 

Allocation of School Resources

Resources are vital to the success of both students and staff. If these are inadequately allocated or distributed unfairly, this can cause strife among teachers. Poorly allocated resources constitute a significant source of conflict in a school system. Part of the administration’s job is to ensure that materials, time, training, attention, and workloads are distributed fairly. If these resources are unbalanced, it can cause jealousy and resentment amongst the teaching staff.

Low Teacher Satisfaction

Another primary driver of teacher-to-teacher conflict is low job satisfaction among educators. As a result, teachers must do more with less and continually face overly demanding or disengaged parents. In addition, the field has become increasingly challenging in the wake of budget cuts and a global pandemic that has forced teachers to adapt to virtual learning on the fly. 

These factors contribute to poor job satisfaction and high stress, which creates an environment of conflict that can lead to artificial conflicts that are misdirected at other teachers. 

Focus on Individual vs. School Community

To create a healthy campus environment, educators and administrators must balance the expectations and responsibilities of students and staff. When this relationship is skewed, it creates friction among teachers, which directly leads to conflict. Therefore, it is essential to take all parties’ needs into account when building school culture.

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Resolving Teacher-to-Teacher Conflict

Now that we have discussed some of the situations that lead to teacher-to-teacher conflict, we can look at some of the tools educators can use to resolve these sometimes-tense situations. Workplace issues can escalate into far worse scenarios if you do not take steps to resolve them calmly and logically. Teachers that learn to de-escalate and resolve problematic situations can make the workplace better for the entire faculty. Check out the following conflict resolution tactics for helpful ideas to reduce conflict within your school.

Responding to Conflicts with Other Teachers

Schools can be an emotional environment. If you find yourself in a disagreement with another teacher, there are steps you can take to reduce the tension before things get out of hand. One important thing to keep in mind when trying to engage in conflict resolution is to remain calm. 

When addressing conflict between you and another teacher, the first thing to do is to identify and articulate the issue. In many disputes, one side may not be fully aware that a problem needs to be fixed. Plus, simply speaking about the topic with all of the involved parties often provides a sense of relief and progress. 

Don’t Take Things Personally

A great way to approach conflict is not to take the situation personally. It may even be beneficial to try to view the disagreement from the other person’s perspective. If you can take a mental step back, you can better handle conflict when it arises. Although it may be a challenge, if you view the disagreement objectively, it can help both parties remain level-headed and focused on resolving the issue.

Take the High Road When It Comes to Conflict

When conflicts erupt, sometimes they can get nasty. Even in a school workplace, teachers can hurl insults at one another, hurting feelings and making the situation worse. If you find yourself in this high-intensity conflict, it is essential not to worsen the situation by attacking back. Do not stoop to petty insults or attack the person on the other side of an issue.

Instead, focus on addressing the behavior that needs to change rather than making it about the person. When someone is feeling attacked, they are less motivated to find a positive resolution to the issue. By addressing the behavior rather than attacking the person’s character, both sides are more likely to come to a better understanding.

Ask for a Mediator from Administration

Even with the best of intentions, some teacher-to-teacher conflicts need intervention from a third party. Part of the school administrative staff’s job is to act as a mediator when these disagreements happen. When facing significant issues, consider asking a principal or vice-principal to intervene and help bring both sides to a mutually agreed resolution.

Keep Your Conflict Out of the Classroom

A critical thing to remember when dealing with conflict in a school is to avoid bringing it into the classroom. Because the profession of teaching is different than others, it is vital to remember the overall goal is to help students learn and grow. In order for students to have the best possible learning environment, teachers need to avoid bringing their conflicts into the classroom or letting their emotions affect their teaching ability.

While conflict in the workplace is inevitable, it should not spill over into the classroom. Your classes must not witness or become involved in teacher-to-teacher issues. Instead, you must maintain order with minimal signs of conflict and a positive space for students.

Building a Great School Culture is Hard Work

Great school culture does not happen overnight. It takes years of hard work to implement your goals entirely. Sometimes it even takes an outside perspective to ensure that you take the steps you need to get your classroom running right. Scheduling a professional development session, SEL training, or school assembly with TEEN TRUTH can help you build a strong school culture and healthy learning environment that allows students to thrive. 

Contact TEEN TRUTH for More Conflict Resolution Resources

If you are looking for resources and training to help resolve teacher-to-teacher conflict in your school, contact TEEN TRUTH today! We have a variety of resources available to help educators and teachers deal with conflict in the workplace, including our book on “Building Campus Relationships from the Inside Out: A Guide to Decreasing Staff Conflict and Increasing Campus Relationships,” available in a digital download or hardcopy version on our store. For more information about dealing with teacher-teacher conflict at school, reach out to TEEN TRUTH today!

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