Solving conflicts together

Deysi Johana Barón, PYP teacher at Gimnasio Los Portales School,Bogotá, Colombia

Students establish agreements for solving classroom conflicts by building a collaborative community in which their social and management skills can grow.

As an educator, we all know that we would like our students to be able to solve conflicts with their peers in a safe and nurturing environment based on the IB Learner Profile.

Appreciating that actively engaging students in learning experiences creates more meaningful participation, we encouraged the creation of weekly meetings where students could talk openly about their concerns.

Students were excited to help their peers and quickly became engaged, writing issues or challenges on a piece of paper before placing them into a box.

To begin, we organized ourselves in a circle and assigned roles to some students to become protagonists of these learning experiences.

Assignment of roles

Moderator: a student who guides the conversation and ensures that all students understand the agreements.

Secretary: a student who reads out the agreements of the previous meeting and writes down the agreements of the current meeting. They also publish these agreements in a visible place in the classroom.

This was followed by a game to foster bonds among students, eg  games concerned with dispositions and attributes such as gratitude and so on. We were motivated because we were focusing on recognizing their skills and attributes during each meeting. Then, the moderator started our learning experience, all students participating actively to help one classmate. They listened respectfully to one another and each student took their turn. It was great to see how they built communicative skills and worked effectively as a cooperative, demonstrating their self-management skills. The students began to understand how they could work together to solve a matter in the classroom.

One of the challenges highlighted by the students  was “I fight with my classmates” so we organized our meeting as always and some of those agreements were:

  1. Cool off
  2. Count until 10
  3. Write a message
  4. Listen to the student
  5. Apologize for any inconvenience caused
  6. Talk to the teacher

Now, students understand the importance of their agreements and appreciate the impact that could have on the life of one classmate. For that reason, during the year we have made some adjustments in order for students to choose the best agreement according to their needs.

The amazing part was that my students were aware of the importance to carry out one of the strategies established for solving conflicts. Moreover, some of them reminded other students to start using the tools acquired in the learning experiences in different environments.  This was successful because the decisions were made in a group setting with peers. Furthermore, the power of deciding to play all together as a community was in the student’s hands. They recognized that all of us have differences but we could share games, ideas and spend time in different places.  They felt essential in the school because all of us were hearing their voices.

Using this structure in each learning experience was a positive result when one colleague told me “Your classroom shows an effective environment for working as a team”.  My colleagues could see that my students improved the relationship between peers and between the teacher and students. Also, some of them could control their emotions more effectively.

The next challenges are to keep working on the same model in the next grade to promote social and management skills. We would like to share this experience with our community and to help in training our teachers. Also, we would like to support parents in how to incorporate these ideas at home.

Deysi Johana Barón has worked as a PYP teacher for three years. She currently works as self- contained at Gimnasio Los Portales School in Bogotá, Colombia. She holds a Master Degree in Education from Pedagogica University. She believes in the importance of hearing students´voices in order to establish an environment of trust and safety.

Join/follow her on twitter:  @BarJohana1

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