When Mr. Thurman entered the Principal's conference room, Carolyn was working on a math worksheet assigned to the class earlier in the day. She was busy doing problem computations long-hand at the bottom of the paper and writing in the correct answer next to the problem. Mr. Thurman stopped startled in the doorway and watched a student who hadn't completed one assignment all week working feverishly on a math assignment. Carolyn looked up from her assignment and smiled at him.
"Hey, Mr. T," she said smiling showing a missing front tooth.
"Uh, Hi Carolyn," Mr. Thurman said clearing his throat and grabbing a chair at the table.
"Here, Mr. T, done. I'll finish up the other math homework over the weekend and turn everything in on Monday," she said sweetly handing him her completed work.
After a quick glance noting that she had received a 100% on the work, Mr. Thurman began the conversation, "So Carolyn, it appears that you've been having a rough week in class," he started. "Can you tell me what's been going on for you this week?"
She jumped right in, "Well, Robert is my best friend and Cindy is my best friend. The three of us do everything together until Robert started doing things with Cindy this week. They both left me out. I was upset Mr. T. I'm sorry that I acted out in class. I just felt like I had lost my two best friends," Carolyn said wiping away a tear.
Mr. Thurman was left speechless and unsure of what direction to take after Carolyn's disclosure. He remembered his conflict resolution strategies, but it appeared that Carolyn had already resolved her conflict issues.
"So Carolyn is there something that I could have done differently for you this week that could have helped redirect your behavior?" Mr. Thurman asked her as he tried to figure out what conflict strategies his student had used.
"Uh hum, you could have had a conference with me and asked me what was wrong. I would have told you," she responded looking directly at him.
"Well, I thought that I was conferencing with you by asking you to get back on task," Mr. Thurman responded almost defensively.
"Not the same, Mr. T. I thought you were mad at me and when you kept yelling at me, I just gave you something to yell about," Carolyn said smugly. "I used the conflict stuff you taught us last week and solved my own problems, since you seemed so busy with your own."
Mr. Thurman ended the conversation telling Carolyn what a good student she was and how happy he was to have her in his class. She left after giving him a high-five and a mega-watt smile. For Mr. Thurman, strategies for conflict resolution began with active listening and talking with his student.
Teaching strategies are effective in conflict resolution when both teachers and students know what they are and how to use them during a conflict. In this scenario, Carolyn used the strategies to self-problem solve even though she still got sent to the Principal's office for behavioral issues in Mr. Thurman's classroom. The importance of Carolyn's story is that she knew what needed to be done to de-escalate her conflict and she implemented the correct strategies. Being sent to the Principal's office in her case was not a punishment, but a time-out to get some work done in a quieter learning environment.