I was privileged to work with an intuitive group of thinkers early on this frosty Monday morning. They were talking about conflicts and what they do to personally work through them. I could tell immediately they had given this deep thought and done some research:
- Conflicts are a part of life; when we engage in conflict, we need to realize this is normal.
- Conflicts are disagreements–it is really not a contest where there are winners and losers.
- We have to help each other, be a problem solver, and use a ‘win-win way’ to help everyone.
- Show respect and use words that work. Mrs. Stanley talks about “I” messages with each other (“When you…I feel…because…”).
- Treat others the way we want to be treated and be a good listener who really hears the other person!
I think you get the idea. So I had to ask, “What’s a ‘win-win way’ look like?” Now you have their answers:
- Treat each other with respect, be a strong listener, and use words that work (“I” messages).
- Find out each person’s needs or wants in the situation, and ask, “How can we ______?” (state needs/wants of both)
- Think of solutions together, make a plan, and act on the plan.
This group was creating a classroom flipbook of their ideas to share with others (I told them to market it to other schools because this is something every campus deals with daily!). Even though this particular writing assignment was important for their grade and teamwork, the much more valuable life lesson involved their ideas for working through any conflict. It’s another example of giving our students the gift of finding ways to creatively work together in the early years. Bravos to these fourth graders and their teacher! As one friend put it best, “We erase conflicts; no problem!” 🙂