Conflicts can happen in even the most positive and open classrooms and can disrupt your students’ ability to learn. If left unchecked, it can even lead to aggression and violence between students.


As teachers, it’s essential to have effective conflict resolution strategies in place to address these issues promptly and maintain a positive learning environment.


In this article, we’ll explore some practical tips for teachers on how to deal with conflicts in the classroom effectively. The techniques below are a few strategies teachers can use to create a safe classroom environment for all. 

Use the SOAR Method


The SOAR methodStop, Observe, Assess, React—is a simple yet powerful framework for managing conflicts in real-time.


When you notice tension escalating, take a moment to pause and assess the situation. Observe the behaviour and body language of those involved to gain insight into the underlying dynamics.


Assess the severity of the conflict and determine the most appropriate course of action. Finally, react calmly and decisively to address the conflict and prevent it from escalating further.

Stay Calm and Neutral


When faced with a conflict, it’s crucial for teachers to remain calm and composed. Take a deep breath and approach the situation with a neutral mindset. Avoid reacting impulsively or taking sides, as this can escalate tensions further. Instead, try to maintain a sense of professionalism and objectivity as you work to resolve the conflict.


Teachers serve as role models for their students. How they handle conflicts sets an example for how students should manage their own disagreements. By staying calm and composed, teachers demonstrate to students the importance of remaining level-headed and respectful, even in challenging situations.

Listen Actively


Actively listen to all parties involved in the conflict to gain a better understanding of their perspectives and concerns. Encourage each student to express their thoughts and feelings openly and without interruption. Use active listening techniques such as paraphrasing, summarising, and asking clarifying questions to ensure that you fully grasp the situation from all angles.


By listening attentively to everyone’s viewpoints, you can gain insights into the root causes of the conflict and work towards finding a mutually acceptable solution.


Active listening also creates trust between teachers and students. When students feel heard and understood, they are more likely to trust their teacher and be open to working towards a resolution together. This creates a more supportive classroom environment.

Acknowledge Emotions


Recognising and validating the emotions of those involved in the conflict is crucial to fostering empathy and understanding.


When addressing a conflict, acknowledge the emotions of the students involved by saying something like, “I see that you’re upset” or “It seems like this situation is frustrating for you.”


By acknowledging emotions, you demonstrate empathy and create an environment where students feel heard and understood.

Identify the Underlying Issues


Take the time to identify the underlying causes of the conflict. Is it a misunderstanding, a difference in values or beliefs, or a clash of personalities? By pinpointing the root cause of the conflict, you can address it more effectively and prevent similar issues from happening in the future.


Unresolved conflicts can escalate and have a detrimental impact on the classroom environment. By identifying the underlying issues early on, teachers can intervene proactively to de-escalate tensions and prevent conflicts from spiralling out of control. This helps maintain a positive and productive learning environment for all students.


Identifying the underlying issues of a conflict also provides an opportunity for teachers to teach valuable conflict resolution skills to students. By modelling effective problem-solving strategies and guiding students through the resolution process, teachers can help students develop essential skills for managing conflicts in their personal lives.

Communicate Clearly and Respectfully


Clearly communicate your expectations for behaviour and conduct in the classroom and reinforce these expectations consistently. When addressing conflicts, use clear and respectful language to convey your message. Avoid assigning blame or making accusations and focus instead on finding solutions that benefit everyone involved.


Clear communication helps ensure that messages are conveyed accurately and understood by all parties involved in the conflict. By communicating clearly, teachers can provide feedback in a way that promotes understanding and reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings or misinterpretations.

Facilitate Open Dialogue


Encourage open dialogue and collaboration among the parties involved in the conflict. Create a safe and supportive space where individuals feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment. Try emphasising mutual respect, empathy, and understanding, where conflicts can be resolved through constructive dialogue and compromise.


Encourage students to use “I” statements to express their thoughts and feelings without blaming or accusing others. Remind students to listen actively and respectfully to each other’s perspectives.


It can be useful to create opportunities for students to communicate openly during conflicts. This could include holding class meetings, circle discussions, or small group dialogues where students can share their thoughts and feelings in a supportive and facilitated environment.

Explore Solutions Together


Work with the students involved in the conflict to brainstorm potential solutions and alternatives. Provide a safe and supportive environment where students feel comfortable sharing their ideas freely. Emphasise that all suggestions are valid and should be considered without judgment.


Discuss the potential consequences of different solutions with students. Help them think through the short-term and long-term effects of each option and consider how they might impact all parties involved. Encourage students to weigh the pros and cons of each solution thoughtfully.


Facilitate a discussion among students to reach consensus on a preferred solution. Encourage them to listen to each other’s perspectives, ask clarifying questions, and engage in respectful dialogue. Encourage compromise and negotiation as needed to find a solution that everyone can agree on.

Follow Up and Monitor Progress


After resolving the conflict, follow up with students to ensure that the agreed-upon solutions are working. Teachers can follow up by scheduling regular check-in meetings or discussions with the students involved in the conflict resolution process. This could be done weekly, biweekly, or monthly, depending on the nature of the conflict and the complexity of the resolution. Use these check-ins to review progress, address any challenges or concerns, and provide ongoing support and guidance.


Observe students’ interactions and behaviours in the classroom and other settings to assess the progress of the conflict resolution. Pay attention to how students communicate with each other, collaborate on tasks, and handle disagreements. Look for signs of positive changes in attitudes, behaviours, and relationships.


It can be a good idea to keep detailed records of the conflict resolution process, including the agreed-upon solutions, action plans, meeting notes, and progress updates as these can be used to address future conflicts.

Conflict resolution is an essential skill for teachers, enabling them to create a supportive and inclusive learning environment where all students feel valued and respected. 


By staying calm, listening actively, identifying underlying issues, communicating clearly, facilitating open dialogue, exploring solutions together, and following up, teachers can effectively manage conflicts in the classroom and promote positive relationships among students. 


Through proactive conflict resolution, teachers can create a culture of cooperation, empathy, and mutual respect that enhances student learning and well-being. 


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