Interracial issues are often so painful that we try to avoid them. To find our voice on painful issues we need to learn to risk connecting, practice being in dialogue and learn communication skills along the way. On the other hand it is crucial that we look for
Five Ways to respond to Conflict
The behaviours below show five different strategies how we can deal with conflict.
1) Denial or Avoidance: This is where everyone pretends there is no problem. It will create a lose/lose situation, since there will still be bad feeling and no clearing of the air.
2) Smoothing Over the Problem: On the surface, harmony is maintained, but underneath, there is still conflict. One person is probably OK with this smoothing, while the other remains in conflict, creating a win/lose situation.
3) Compete or Fight: This is the classic win/lose situation, where the strength and power of one person wins the conflict.
4) Compromise or Negotiation: This is likely to result in a better result than win/lose, but it’s not quite win/win. Both parties give up something, in favour of an agreed mid-point solution.
5) Collaboration: This is the ideal outcome: a win/win situation. However, it requires input of time from those involved to work through the difficulties.
Teacher Suggestions for creating trust and active student participation
- Be yourself.
- Make a personal connection with students.
- Allow yourself to be seen in your process of learning (share your experiences and show vulnerability).
- Be aware of your own cultural assumptions, rank and identity as to account for their impact on students and your teaching style.
- Learn Your Students – be cognizant of their cultures and how their cultures impact their learning preferences and styles.
- Research – Know the General Demographics of your Student Population and provide Your Students with opportunity/support to Share about their Cultural Backgrounds/Experiences in Class.
- Create opportunities for discussion on their preferred learning styles/tendencies (personal and cultural).
- Create opportunities for cooperative, multicultural teams to collaborate.
- Don’t treat students as if you know it all and they are receptacles for your knowledge (Model learning as an equal opportunity for increasing awareness.).
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions and integrate your students’ cultural background/ personal experiences into case studies for your classroom, while being aware of cultural sensitivities.
- Don’t be afraid of Tensions or Heated Debate. Conflict mediation is not about simply avoiding conflicts, but about growing the skills to process them.
- Don’t force students to Adapt to Your Teaching Style.
View videos of the powerful conflict mediation training The Cycle of Violence: