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Non-Tips on How to Resolve Conflict in School

Man with glasses yelling into a phone.

Use these behaviors and put yourself on a “different” career path.

Hacks are all the rage right now. We're all looking for shortcuts on everything from baking the best pie to minimizing the time we spend doing laundry. Even educators are looking for more efficient ways to accomplish things, such as how to resolve conflict in school.

Further reading: 7 Tips for Teachers on Dealing with Difficult Parents

I get it! Life is busy, and there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done—especially when you're a teacher. While I'd love to help my fellow educators streamline their workdays, I have nothing to offer except what I call "non-tips," or advice on what not to do in conflict situations. Non-tips won't guarantee an easier or faster way to do things, but they're tried and true ways to keep you out of trouble—which is great if you're hoping to keep your job. Here are a few things that we all want to do but should definitely not do when handling conflict in school.

1. Bite Back

The scenario: Your principal approaches you about the school's new technology initiative and insists that you immediately implement the new standards in your lesson planning.

The non-tip: Roll your eyes, exasperated, and remind him that his last initiative tanked big time and infuriated every teacher in the building.

2. Throw Hands

The scenario: During a particularly tense faculty meeting, a colleague vehemently disagrees with your position on graduation requirements.

The non-tip: Ask someone to hold your hoops and lunge at her across three rows of chairs. This is not how to resolve conflict in school.

3. Point Out the Obvious

The scenario: During his annual beginning-of-the-year pep talk, the superintendent bloviates about the critical role teachers play in the classroom. He stresses the importance of things such as smiling and greeting students upon arrival.

The non-tip: Yell out "Duh!" and follow up with, "When's the last time you actually stepped foot in one of our classrooms?"

4. Use Your Teacher Voice

The scenario: The athletic director comes to see you about the basketball team's best player—who also happens to be your laziest student. The AD lets you know that the rest of the team is counting on this player to be academically eligible for the playoffs.

The non-tip: Use your "teacher voice" to tell him that sports are secondary to your class and that you have zero interest in the playoffs. You're only focused on your upcoming Wuthering Heights essay.

5. Lash Out at a Student

The scenario: A student forgets an important deadline and turns in her assignment two days late.

The non-tip: Announce, loudly, that she is irresponsible, fail her on the spot, and sarcastically wish her luck in the real world.

6. Unload on a Parent

The scenario: A parent leaves you a scathing voicemail about the grade you gave his student.

The non-tip: Return the call immediately and shout, "I don't give grades; students earn them. If you're not happy with it, I suggest you spend some more time helping your kid instead of making excuses for him!"

I know that on some level it would be viscerally satisfying to lash out at the people who so blatantly disrespect you. Being unappreciated and undervalued can be incredibly frustrating.

Further reading: How to Move Past a Conflict with Your Principal

But trust me: reacting with poise and self-control is the way to go. At the end of the day, you're an admirable professional who turns the other cheek and takes the high road. And by "high road," I mean the one that leads to happy hour. Cheers!