Conflict. The term elicits strong reactions and typically engenders negative connotations. Conflict can arise for a number of reasons: a difference of values or perspective; a sense of not being heard; a feeling that students are not being treated fairly, to name a few. To be sure, few people relish conflict of any kind. However, there is a marked difference between destructive and productive forms of conflict. Relationships can actually become healthier and stronger as a result of working through issues together.
It is much more effective, and healthy, to build relationships than repair them after they are broken. Generally speaking, teachers and parents are usually able to avoid harmful conflicts by being proactive and making positive assumptions about each others’ intentions and perspectives. However, while it is helpful to adopt a stance that presumes positive intentions, sometimes those presumptions may not appear to be borne out by actual experiences.
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of destructive and constructive conflict is not a simple, straightforward task. Learning how to recognize the difference between these two forms of conflict can be a difficult task for teachers and educators in the midst of experiencing them. Sometimes, teachers need support or counsel from third parties to move beyond impasses or barriers that appear insurmountable and unresolvable. It is important for teachers and educators to know that we can, should, and at times must, reach out for that counsel and support.