Managing and Resolving Conflicts Effectively in Schools and Classrooms

Day 3: Peaceable Classroom Model and Peaceable School Model

On Day 3 we review models for implementing conflict management and provide sample programs. We also look at how these programs started, and what is recommended to successfully start one in your classroom and throughout your school.

Curriculum infusion is incorporated into the construction of these models as we provide practical examples of conflict management becoming a seamless part of daily education. In recognition of the importance of support from other educators, we provide methods to publicize the concept to build school-wide and eventually district-wide interest. Finally, we help you monitor and report on the effectiveness of your program in clear, accessible language.

The Peaceable Classroom Model

This model is a whole-school classroom methodology that includes adults modeling and teaching the skills and concepts of conflict management with and to their students.  Conflict management is ideally infused into the curriculum, across subject areas for all students, and into classroom management strategies.  Peaceable classrooms are a fundamental component of the peaceable school. Classrooms should incorporate some form of problem-solving approach for use by students and the curriculum infusion approach covered in more detail on Day 2. 

Curriculum Infusion

Curriculum infusion is the process of using any subject area or topic to teach the concepts of conflict and conflict management. This might entail the development of an entire course on conflict management, integrating the concepts of conflict management into daily lessons across subject areas, or to teach related content and skills as a separate subject.  Co-curricular activities may also be used to teach conflict management.

Alignment with Academic Content Standards

The Committee for Children has developed alignment charts on how their curriculum supports various state academic learning standards. Much of their curriculum corresponds with the skills and concepts of conflict management. The following information may be helpful to you as you consider how to integrate conflict management skills and concepts into what classroom educators are already required to teach in the classroom.

The alignment charts illustrate the many connections between the Second Step program and student academic learning standards at all grade levels from Kindergarten to Grade 9. The charts align the Second Step curriculum with standards from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K–12 Education by John S. Kendall and Robert J. Marzano, third edition (2003). This carefully analyzed compilation of content standards is a comprehensive model drawn from national subject-matter associations. In addition to the usual subject areas, such as math, science, and language arts, Life Skills and Behavioral Studies are included. This information can be accessed via their web site at:
enewsf/sstfsf/sstfs_archive/fall03/ fall03/academiccontent

While this model is discussed more in depth on Day 2, it is a fundamental component of the Peaceable Classroom Model and the Peaceable School Approach.

Click here for more information on the link to academic content related to conflict management.


Classroom Management Strategies

Conflict that arises in school often absorbs a great deal of the time and energy of teachers and principals that could be used for instruction and positive student support activities.  The incorporation of positive strategies for behavior management such as conflict resolution and management education can significantly reduce the time staff and students devote to managing unacceptable behaviors. 

One effective means of teaching and modeling conflict management skills and concepts is to incorporate them into classroom management processes and school policies.  Building a conflict resolution procedure into school and classroom policies not only offers students the security of known expectations and procedures; it also leads to a reduction of distractions and an increase in productive learning time.  Conflict resolution skills can empower students to resolve conflicts that occur inside and outside of the classroom. 

There are several classroom management strategies that may be used to help students obtain conflict resolution skills including:

Modeling the Skills of Conflict Management

Conflict resolution can also be part of a teachers' classroom management style. Teachers include conflict resolution principles and skill-building activities in their teaching style to provide all students with the opportunity to learn to understand and analyze conflict; recognize the role of perceptions and biases; identity feelings; identify factors that cause escalation; handle anger and other feelings appropriately; improve verbal communication skills; improve listening skills; identify common interests; brainstorm multiple solutions; evaluate the consequences of different options; and agree on win-win solutions. Teachers report the inclusion of conflict resolution principles in classrooms helps students better understand the relationship between academics and the real world.

Each of us must be the change we want to see in the world.”  - - - Mahatma Gandhi

Modeling techniques may include using class meetings to discuss issues that impact the class or the use of a “garbage can” or “recycling bin” to acknowledge problems or challenges encountered outside of the classroom that may affect behavior and academic performance, while assisting them to manage these emotions during class.  Class meetings can help students to develop, apply, practice, and use group decision-making and consensus building processes. 

Click here for an activity for a faculty meeting on how to conduct class meetings.

Inevitably, some students and teachers bring a number of problems to our schools and classrooms each day which may result in frustration, anger, fear, disappointment, rejection, jealousy, hunger, etc.  In some instances, they may encounter conflicts before they leave home in the morning.  Some of the problems students bring into the school environment can be acknowledged and addressed using conflict resolution techniques after class either with or without the assistance of an adult.  The “garbage can” and “recycling bin” are two techniques that have assisted some educators help students to address  these challenges.

Click here for more information on how to use the “garbage can” and “recycling bin” in your classroom.

Students Resolving Conflicts in the Classroom

The effective resolution of many classroom conflicts does not have to require the active involvement of teachers. In some instances, students can solve their own disputes once they have been taught basic problem-solving skills.

Teachers can use age-appropriate problem-solving models to teach all students in their classrooms how to use conflict resolution strategies on their own to resolve simple disputes. For example, in K-2 the age-appropriate model is likely to be the ability to talk about the problem and label basic feelings. In K 3-5 students can be taught the basics of cooperative negotiation. In middle and high school, the use of elaborate problem-solving, negotiation and mediation models is possible.

One approach for using conflict resolution in the classroom with middle school students is the "conflict resolution corner" model. This model suggests that as conflicts arise in the classroom, teachers can refer disputing students to the "conflict resolution corner,” which contains information that reminds them of the ground rules and steps for effective problem solving.  Age-appropriate negotiation models can be used during these encounters.

Click here for more information on how to set up a Peace Table or Conflict Resolution Corner in your classroom.

Another approach is to establish a classroom mediation program as discussed in detail on Day 2 of the course.  This approach requires the teacher to teach all students conflict management skills, choose a process and set up a system for using these skills to resolve classroom conflicts. If peer mediation does not resolve the conflict, the teacher determines the next appropriate step. 

Sample Interactive Learning Scenario – Creating a Youth Led Organization to Address School Climate Issues: “Creating Innovative Pathways to Acceptance and Peace”

According to the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Heath, children and youth make healthier lifestyle choices if they feel connected to others at home and at school. This scenario illustrates how a sensitive, observant administrator channels the talents of troubled youth in a positive direction – one that helps them reconnect to the school, while at the same time helps the school staff enhance the learning environment. ( A Flash player is needed on your computer to access this scenario. It can be downloaded at no cost at:


Sample Interactive Learning Scenario for Young Children: Out on a Limb: A Guide to Getting Along is a website that helps younger children learn about handling conflicts. It is created by the University of Illinois Extension -

Cooperative Learning

If students' experience a non-threatening classroom environment where cooperation is encouraged, trust is promoted, and group interaction is frequent, they will have more opportunities to practice and reasons to choose non-violent conflict resolution strategies over aggression and violence.

Teachers utilizing the peaceable classroom model may use cooperative learning such as the methods described in the following books:  David Johnson and Roger Johnson, Teaching Students to Be Peacemakers (1991), Spencer Kagan, Cooperative Learning (1997), Spencer Kagan (2000), Reaching Standards Through Cooperative Learning: Providing for all Learners in General Education Classrooms  and Robert E. Slavin in Cooperative Learning: Theory, Research, and Practice (1994). 

Cooperative learning provides an opportunity for students to use and learn conflict management skills such as understanding, analyzing, evaluating, communicating, and problem solving.  It also helps them in students utilizing and refining their higher order cognitive abilities.  Using this strategy, students are paired in teams to collectively interpret and learn information. 

Click here for an activity for a faculty meeting on cooperative discipline.

Examples of Peaceable Classroom Programs

Two examples of a peaceable classroom program have been summarized in Conflict Resolution Education: A Guide to Implementing Programs in Schools, Youth Serving Organizations, and Community and Juvenile Justice Settings Program Report by Donna Crawford and Richard Bodine.  They include the Teaching Students to be Peacemakers Program (TSP) and Educators for Social Responsibility. 

The Teaching Students to be Peacemakers (TSPM) approach focuses on classroom management strategies (utilizing cooperative learning), staff development, and student training.  A brief summary of the staff development components and student training include:

Staff Development

Student Training

The Educators for Social Responsibility (ESR) Program recommends a need assessments, the creation of steering committee, the creation of a multi-year implementation plan, and staff training.  A brief summary of the staff development suggested includes:
Staff Development

Click here for a more detailed summary of the TSPM and ESR Program. (see pages 35-38 in the linked document)

Peaceable School Approach

The most effective school conflict management program is the peaceable school or comprehensive school conflict management program approach. In this model, the entire school community and local community are knowledgeable about and regularly use “win/win” approaches in attempting to resolve conflicts. A comprehensive program offers members of the school and local communities the opportunity to learn, practice and model effective conflict management skills.  Ideally it becomes a central component of the daily operations of the school.  It includes everything from how parents and guests are greeted when they enter the school building to how discipline is addressed.  It addresses how educators manage their classrooms, the use of positive conflict management strategies being modeled by all adults in the school building, both with youth and other school community staff, and strategies for teaching conflict management skills to youth.

The components of a peaceable school approach include:

Implementing a Peaceable School Approach

A comprehensive program can not be implemented overnight, but it can be implemented in phases. The first phase may include a peer mediation program or a few teachers piloting conflict management in their classroom (implementing the peaceable classroom approach or curriculum infusion approach).   As more and more students, teachers and parents experience the benefits of teaching conflict management, the program can be expanded to all classrooms, throughout the school community into the school discipline procedures and mission statements, and throughout the daily operations of the school community.

Schools provide a readily accessible opportunity to teach young people effective, non-violent conflict resolution skills. Students also need consistent modeling of effective conflict resolution skills by adults outside the school to overcome the message of "might makes right” that is prevalent in many television shows and movies.  Staff development programs, parent education programs, civic organization presentations, and church-sponsored programs can provide opportunities to teach adults effective conflict resolution skills.

Examples of some of the approaches that can be implemented to implement conflict management in classrooms, schools and communities were described above.  Although different schools and communities may establish different goals and objectives for their conflict management programs, there are several characteristics of successful programs. Essential elements include a needs assessment, securing administrative support, securing funding, selecting a program/curriculum and staff development providers, orient/train the staff and students, create a site leadership team, publicize, utilize, and evaluate the program.  Goals and objectives that are developed and supported by everyone - students, administrators, teachers, lunch and recess supervisors, bus drivers, parents, and community members-provide direction and establish a climate which supports the program.  A more detailed review of these elements of a successful program are described in more detail below.

Best Practice Implementation

"Success is dependent on effort. –"

Click here for a PowerPoint presentation for staff development on best practices as listed below.

Using a conflict management program only garners desired results if the implementation strategy is based upon best practices. Research shows that programs adopted and poorly implemented may be worse than not having a conflict management program at all. What are some characteristics of effectively implemented programs?

There are a variety of best practices that have been identified that should be incorporated into your implementation strategy regardless of the specific program model you adopt.  This includes:

Click here for a sample needs assessment questionnaire and survey that can be used with your staff. (see pp. 85-86 in the linked document)

Time is important in the creation of a comprehensive program.  It is a commodity which many times is ultimately allotted by the administrator.  The administrator can provide support by providing time to allow teachers to plan how to integrate conflict management into their lessons, to share strategies in staff meetings on what is working well for them, share lessons, and designate staff in-service days to be spent on training in conflict management. 

Administrators may provide financial support by covering the costs of stipends for staff development in conflict management, pay for substitute teachers so that educators can attend staff development on conflict management, allocate part of the budget to hire trainers, and cover the cost of curriculum and training materials. 

Administrators provide important support by simply attending trainings and participating in various classroom management activities. This shows that they value the programming as well. 

The cost of starting conflict management programs also varies. It is like buying a car - the cost depends on the quality and type of "model" you want. Potential financial “costs” for starting up a conflict management program include the following:

If you wish to start a conflict management program in your school, you may find your school district's drug-free schools coordinator to be a helpful source of suggestions for funding. In developing a funding strategy, you may wish to consult with coordinators of existing school conflict management programs for information on how they acquired funding.

Selecting a Program/Curriculum and Staff Development Providers/Trainers

Researched and Approved Programs Reviews of Prevention

Programs/Prevention Database:

Blueprints for Violence Prevention Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs and Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence:
Safe Schools, Safe Students: A Guide to Violence Prevention Strategies. Drug Strategies.
Safe and Sound: An Education Leader's Guide to Evidence-Based Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs.

The No Child Left Behind Federal Legislation stresses the need for educational programming to be evidence-based.  Trying to choose a program and trainers may seem overwhelming, but there are many resources available to assist you with this task.  In the last decade, the research has shown effective strategies for teaching staff and students the skills and concepts of classroom management in order that they can be applied throughout the school community leading to reductions in discipline challenges, improved academic achievement, and a more positive overall school climate.  Below are several documents containing reviews of the research on various programs and note some of the programs that are approved for use with federally funded grants.

After reviewing the different types of programs, identifying your goals, conducting a needs assessment, developing an initial action plan, and deciding on a program budget, then you will want to select a qualified trainer.  Selecting a qualified trainer is one of the most important components of establishing an effective conflict management program.  Regardless of the curriculum chosen, without adequate staff development, it is very difficult to achieve the goals that your school has set.

Method for Selecting a Trainer

  1. Compile a list of names
  2. Look for certain qualifications
  3. Interview the trainer
  4. Evaluate and make a decision

Selecting a Trainer Sample Resources for Educators:
There are several tools that are available to assist educators in making their selection including a consumer guide for selecting a school conflict resolution trainer and sample assessment forms. Used together, the following documents can assist you in making a well informed decision.

Consumer Guide: School Conflict Resolution Training: What you Need to Know to Select a Trainer. This guide, designed by the Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management is designed to assist the consumer in selecting quality school-based conflict resolution training and trainers. Available at:

Conflict Resolution Staff Development Provider Assessment Forms. These forms, located in the federal program report, Conflict Resolution Education: A Guide t implementing Programs in Schools, Youth Serving Organizations, and Community and Juvenile Justice Settings, can help school personnel to assess the experience and ability of the conflict management trainers and whether or not they meet the needs of their school. Click here for the provider assessment forms.


Orient the Staff

Staff represent a critical element of the conflict management program.  To have an effective program, it is important to provide all staff with an understanding of the rationale for implementing a conflict management program and a description of the proposed approach or model to be used.  Staff should be included in the planning process, and be provided with staff development appropriate to their expected roles in the program.

Select the Site Leadership Team (SLT)

"A small group of thoughtful people could change the world.  Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has."   – Margaret Mead

It is helpful to create a core team to monitor, coordinate, and oversee the implementation of the schools action plan. 

Discuss time and resource commitments -- the SLT will have to devote more time that other members of the school community to the conflict management effort.  Each member should be made aware of the requested time commitment they are being asked to make.   

Orient the Students

Ideally all students in the school would have the opportunity to learn and utilize conflict management skills if you decide to implement a peaceable classroom or peaceable school approach.  Many schools may add various conflict management groups as well as establishing a peer mediation program as discussed in Day 2.

Publicize the Program

It is important for the school community to know what types of conflict management programming are occurring in the school in order that they might utilize or participate in those services, recognize the good work being done by the staff and students implementing the programming, and to gain buy-in from others when they see the positive results.

Utilize the Program

Quality training and publicity are essential factors that can increase the likelihood that people will use the program.  Additional ways to ensure that the programs are utilized include:

Evaluate the Program

Evaluation is an essential component of your program.  Your evaluation will help the school identify what is working, and what might need some adjustment,  may lead to additional funding, buy-in from staff and the entire school community, and assist with positive community publicity.

Conducting an Evaluation Sample Resource for Educators: Evaluating Your Conflict Resolution Education Program: A Guide for Educators and Evaluators. This manual provides an introduction to program evaluation and evaluation tools as well as 125 pages of user-friendly materials for evaluating staff development, student peer mediation programs, and curriculum integration. Available at:


Click here for an activity for a faculty meeting on the components of an effectively implemented program.


Examples of Components of a Peaceable School Program

The Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management since 1993 have provided more than 800 public schools across Ohio, grades K-12 with a school conflict management grant training package. A summary of this state-wide program is described in more detail on Day 5.  Below are examples of ways that Ohio schools, grades K-12 have integrated conflict management into their:

This list is not comprehensive, and does not include examples of the Peaceable Classroom Model, Curriculum Infusion Model, or the Mediation Model.  For examples of components of these models used in Ohio schools, go to:

Integrating Conflict Management Into the School Policies, Procedures, and Mission Statements

Integrate conflict management guidelines into the school-wide discipline plan.  In this plan, focus heavily on discipline verses punishment when appropriate.  You can also integrate conflict management into the school’s continuous improvement plan by examining ways to improve teacher-student and student-student relationships. 

Provide all of the staff, including the physical education teacher and librarian with the same steps to resolving conflicts.  Encourage the staff to use the steps with the students at recess or in the classroom if a conflict occurs.  Post the steps in the conflict management process in classrooms, lunchrooms, and hallways.  Include conflict management training in the in-school suspension classes to help students evaluate their negative behaviors, learn some new skills depending on the time available, and make a plan for preventing this  behavior from happening again.

Integration Into Daily/Monthly Operations

Some specific strategies you may want to consider to integrate conflict management into your daily/monthly operations include:

Integration Into School Programming

You can integrate conflict management into your school programming by:

Parent Involvement

Parents should be made aware of your conflict management programs.  Strategies for enhancing parent involvement include:

Staff Development

Staff need information and support to effectively implement a conflict management program.  This might include:

Examples of Peaceable School Programs

Two examples of a peaceable classroom program have been summarized in Conflict Resolution Education: A Guide to Implementing Programs in Schools, Youth Serving Organizations, and Community and Juvenile Justice Settings Program Report by Donna Crawford and Richard Bodine.  They include the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program and the Creating the Peaceable School (CPS) Program of the Illinois Institute for Dispute Resolution.

The Resolving Conflicts Creatively Program (RCCP) approach focuses on professional development for teachers and other staff, administrator training, parent training, and curriculum infusion K-12, and peer mediation.  A brief summary of the staff and parent training components, curriculum infusion and peer mediation programming are listed below:

Professional Development for Staff and Parent Training

Peer Mediation

Curriculum Infusion

The Creating the Peaceable School (CPS) Program, Illinois Institute for Dispute Resolution
Approach focuses on classroom management, systemic change, professional development, parent education, and community initiatives.  The program can be utilized by a school or district. A comprehensive plan is then developed based on the school or districts needs and goals. A brief summary of the professional development, parent training, and community initiatives are listed below.

Professional Development

Parent Education

Parent Training Sample Resources for Educators:

• Social and Emotional Learning at Home: Schools and Families Working Together.

• Learning Skills of Peace Through Everyday Conflicts - (Pre-K-3) help adults work with children using songs, stories and other activities to address behaviors such as anger and aggression, biting, lying, and tantrums. English and Spanish:


Community Initiatives

Click here for a more detailed summary of the RCCP and CPS Program. (see pp. 41-46 in the linked document)

Discussion Questions

Discussion QuestionsPlease think about the questions below and share your responses with colleagues.

  1. What are the components of a Peaceable Classroom Approach?  What strategies are you currently using in your classroom that are complementary and what additional strategies might you add to your tool box?
  2. What are the components of a Peaceable School Approach?  What strategies and programming do you have currently in your school that are similar and what additional components of a comprehensive approach might you see meeting the needs of your school?
  3. What are the steps that need to be taken to develop and implement an effective program?


Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR). Recommended Guidelines for Effective Conflict Resolution Education Programs in K-12 Classrooms, Schools and School Districts.  2002.  Available at:

Crawford, Donna and Bodine, Richard. Conflict Resolution Education A Guide to Implementing Programs in Schools, Youth Serving Organizations, and community and Juvenile Justice Settings Program Report.  Washington, DC. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice and Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of education.  October 1996. 

Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) in Cooperation with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Educational Laboratory, The Laboratory for Student Success (LSS). Safe and Sound: An Educational Leader's Guide to Evidence-Based (SEL) Social and Emotional Learning Programs.  March 2003.  Available at:

Hart, R.C., Shelestak, D. and Horwood, T.J. Cost Savings Report on School Conflict Management Program, Kent, Ohio.  Kent State University, Bureau of Research Training and Services, February, 2003.

Jones, T. and Kmitta, D. Does it Work?  The Case for Conflict Resolution Education in Our Nation's Schools.  Washington, D.C.: formerly the Conflict Resolution Education Network (CREnet) now the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR), 2000.  Available at:

Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management [OCDRCM].  "Conflict Management in Schools: Sowing Seeds for a Safer Society.  Final Report of School Conflict Management Demonstration Project 1990-1993." Columbus, Ohio: OCDRCM, 1994. 

Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management [OCDRCM].  "Conflict Management Programs in Ohio Elementary Schools: Case Studies and Evaluation." Columbus, Ohio OCDRCM, 1997. 

Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management [OCDRCM]"Introduction to School Conflict Management.” Columbus, Ohio: OCDRCM 1998. Available at:

Tschannnen-Moran, M. "Seeds of Peace: Ohio's School Conflict Management Grant Program.  An Evaluation of the 1996 High School Conflict Management Grant Program of the Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management and the Ohio Department of Education." Columbus: OCDRCM, 1999.