We began the course by making sense of the main topic, conflicts that can arise between students in the classroom, and also between parents, teachers, and administrative staff and talked about the possible sources of conflict (Gray and Stark, 1984):
- Limited resources
- Interdependent work activities
- Differentiation of activities
- Communication problems
- Differences in perceptions
- The environment of the organisation.
The types of conflict can be affective-emotional, cognitive- opinion based, behavioural- actions based, goal conflict of different outcomes and the interrelated conflicts which are all of these together. As a natural outcome of this part we talked about conflict resolution strategies such as negotiation and mediation. Mediation involves a 3rd person, negotiation on the other hand should respond to three objectives:
- Identification of differences between the parties
- Making joint decisions
- Building a commitment to resolve the conflict
When resolving a given conflict we are advised to focus on the problem, not on the personalities involved. One should be courteous but without sugar coating the problem. It is also important to keep our conversations or decisions strictly confidential and come up with a resolution together with the participants. We also talked about building and strengthening relationships with our students to be able to act quicker in either preventing or resolving conflicts with more success. Skilfully practiced active listening can also be a great help, so we conducted exercises in pairs on how to maintain eye contact, be attentive, patient, and keep an open mind without interrupting the other person.
The other main topic up for discussion was bullying in the school. At this point it is important to differentiate between teasing and bullying. In teasing for example, the target doesn’t mind it, or it is reciprocal and done for fun by definition. In bullying the target feels badly or embarrassed to say the least, and it is intended to cause harm. We carried out exercises in the workbook to recognise early signs of it such as Verbal, Relational, Physical, Cyber and Sexual in nature. We learned how to identify warning signs indicating that someone is being bullied or somebody is becoming a bully. We also discussed the possible reasons of bullying specifically in our school types (high school, vocational school, pre-school) and the forms of cyberbullying. In this latter the role of the school and teachers is inevitable to prevent cliques in our classroom and build community spirit instead to have cooperative vs competitive classrooms. Finally, we defined the members of the bullying circle: possible defenders, supporters, bystanders, defenders, bullies and targets.
On Friday, before receiving our course certificates we were given a closing task to design anti-bullying posters and present them that we could use in our school as well.
I have to emphasise the outstanding importance of the support of the European Commission who has funded this mobility through Erasmus+, for which I am truly grateful.
This mobility was funded by the European Commission.
The information presented here does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission.
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