Keeping the Peace: Managing Students in Conflict Using the Social Problem-Solving Approach is a book by Carmen Y. Reyes, “The Psycho-Educational Teacher.” The issue of how to communicate effectively with distressed students represents one of the biggest challenges that teachers, administrators, and support staff face in today’s schools. A different but related problem is how to resolve a conflict happening between two or more students. These are no light issues; much of what teachers and administrators describe as discipline problems and disruptive behavior in the classroom stem from breakdowns in teacher-to-student and student-to-student communication. When these breakdowns are ignored or treated poorly, conflict spins out of control. Once in a conflictive interaction, teachers and/or staff find themselves in adversarial relationships with students. Similarly, two students in conflict see each other as enemies. Angry feelings, aggressive behavior, and in most extreme cases, violence are the basic communication styles known to adversaries. Each side trying to win over the other side, with an “I win-You lose” attitude that affects both and benefits neither. The win-lose paradigm may settle the conflict, but only on the surface; genuine conflict resolution can take place only when all parties involved feel treated fairly. Simply put, to manage conflict effectively, teachers and students need better communication patterns. This takes us to the second premise in this book: conflict resolution is an interpersonal communication skill that teachers and students can learn. Effective listening and speaking skills are prerequisites to effective communication, and effective communication is the prerequisite for effective conflict resolution. In her book, Carmen Y. Reyes details a framework of interpersonal communication principles and strategies that lies the foundation for both creating a positive classroom atmosphere and for resolving conflicts once they happen.
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