Dealing with conflict in the classroom

I don’t like conflict. In life; in general. I was the kid of parents who constantly fought and ended up getting divorcsed when I was 8 years old. Even though I remember it being a little sad and a little hard to leave my old friends and my old elementary school, ultimately, when they split up I felt relieved.

I know when I started thinking about teaching, I immediately leaned towards adult learning environments because I had this thought that if I was working with grown people I would have to do zero classroom management. After 10 years experience, I now know that isn’t always true. But, still, I think my own style of teaching and learning, my philosophies of androgogy and my increasing understanding of emotional intelligence and different “ways of knowing” lend themselves best to the college classroom.

That said, at times conflict has arisen. When I was brand new, I think it was hard for me to try to adjust student attitudes or demand respect at all times. I do not like people I perceive to be Control Freaks, and therefore, I would never want to come across as one. So what I’ve had to figure out is a sort of happy dance-a negotiation–between the personalities in my classroom and my own, mixed with methods for me to stay up-in-front, so to speak, leading the class, but also doing so with a fair and even hand.

I try to model professionalism. My students are going to need to know how to at and behave like professionals when they enter the workforce (or advance), so it’s important to me to set a good example. And I tell them this! We all experience that personality that just rubs us the wrong way. It could be an equal or peer at work, or it could end up your boss or editor. How can we find ways to navigate, negotiate and learn from these situations when they arise?

Thankfully, I have only have a few behavioral incidences with students arise in my time at GCC which required an intervention. In those times, I am glad I knew where to turn for advice and support (Counseling, dept chairs and deans) and I’m also glad to know I have a community of colleagues who have “got my back.”


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