Managing and Resolving Conflicts Effectively in Schools and Classrooms

Day 5: Putting It All Together: Developing a Plan

School bus pictureOver the past four days we examined the definition, philosophy, skills, and rationale for conflict management.  During days 2 and 3 we reviewed the four conflict management models and Day 4 provided an review of the research and evaluation tools available on conflict management.  Today we will review some of the main steps that schools can take to create a conflict management plan and overview some of the state-wide program resources that are available to assist schools in various states. 

Steps to Build the Foundation and Maintain the Structure

Depending on which of the four models reviewed on Days 2 and 3 that you have selected--and the program you selected--your action plan may vary.  Important building blocks are listed below that are necessary for any of the four models to ensure success.

There are six main steps that were noted on Day 3 in detail that will assist the school in building the foundation for implementing whichever model is chosen.  These include: (1) conducting a needs assessment, (2) securing administrative support, (3) securing funding, (4) selecting a program, (5) selecting trainers, and (6) selecting a site leadership team.  These steps may occur in different orders depending on the school.  Each will need to be accomplished at some point to help provide a sturdy foundation for the other steps that are needed to develop the main structure.  These include orienting the entire school community including parents, students, and all school staff; and publicizing, utilizing, and evaluating the program.  These last steps are important to continue throughout the implementation and development of the model that the school chooses.



Work in Progress


Conducted a Needs Assessment?




Identified goals?




Assessed interest?








Secured Administrative Support?




Secured funding, time, and/or participation?








Secured Funding?




Checked existing school budgets?




Checked with community foundations?




Checked with community civic groups?




Checked with state departments of education?




Checked with state safe school center?




Checked with parent groups?




Checked with local businesses?




Checked with other state and federal programs?








Selected a Program/Curriculum?




Reviewed researched and approved programs?




Reviewed programs that match the schools needs?








Selected a Staff Development Providers/Trainers?




Compiled a list of names?




Looked for certain qualifications?




Interviewed the trainer(s)?




Evaluated options and made a decision?








Selected the Site Leadership Team (SLT)?




Identified school community members ?



Discussed resources and time commitments?









Has your school:




Oriented the School Community?




Selected students to be involved?




Provided training to the school community?








Publicized the Program?




Publicized the program throughout the school community?




Managed expectations?








Utilized the Program?




Initiated and sustained the program?




Coordinated the program with other activities?




Provided opportunities to refresh skills and knowledge?




Maintained a high profile in the school?








Evaluated the Program?




Selected and implemented an evaluation tool(s)?




Selected and implemented a mechanism for conducting on-going evaluation?




Selected and implemented a feedback plan?





Click here to download the above checklist in Microsoft Word to help you develop your plan.


School Conflict Management Action Plan Sample Form

The sample action plan form below may be helpful as you consider your goals and strategies and develop and implement a conflict management model in your school. The more detailed the plan the easier it is to monitor progress. You may consider having a separate form for each strategy necessary to achieve your goal.  An example of a plan for individual classroom educators who are interested in infusing conflict management into their curriculum is provided below.

Conflict Resolution Education Action Plan





What steps must be taken to accomplish this strategy?













By when? (note week and month)

What resource will be needed? 


Click here for a blank conflict management action plan form.


Click here for a curriculum infusion example for a classroom educator.


State Models: What Types of Programming and Resources Are Available?

There are conflict management related legislation or policies in most states in the US.  An example of the range of topics include curriculum infusion into various subject areas and curriculum standards, integration of alternative dispute resolution strategies such as mediation to address special education issues and truancy; integration of skills training into teacher preparation; and the use of restorative justice practices for youth in the community through the courts.

Below are samples of some of the state-wide government linked programs, training, and resources available that may be helpful as your school develops your program.  Please note that this list is not comprehensive.  Many state Safe School Centers or Departments of Education and other government agencies offer training, grants, and/or resources for schools wishing to implement a conflict management program. 

In addition to checking your state’s government agencies’ web sites or safe school center, you may wish to review  whether or not your state has a statute on conflict management.  Georgia State University's Consortium on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (CNCR) has created a legislative database that provides access to current and pending school conflict management legislation for school stakeholders, conflict management practitioners, and policy makers.  The Education Commission of the States Web site also provides non-partisan information about education policy to help state leaders develop educational systems.  This web site contains policy updates related to a variety of topics including conflict management and related fields.


Supporting Conflict Resolution Education in our Schools
The Maryland Schools Conflict Resolution Grants Program

The Center for Dispute Resolution(C-DRUM) at the University of Maryland School of Law supports the growth of conflict resolution programs in Maryland public schools (pre-kindergarten through high school) through its grant program, a collaborative initiative in partnership with the Maryland Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office (MACRO, a state agency funded through the Maryland Judiciary), and the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). During the first two years of the program, schools were encouraged to apply for one year grants of up to $10,000 to develop innovative conflict resolution programs or to expand and enrich existing school programs. Funded by MACRO and administered by C-DRUM, the grants were awarded based upon overall merit of the application, creativity, sustainability, and commitment to continue the program after the grant expires.

In the pilot year, 2003-2004, 10 schools (pre-kindergarten through consolidated middle/high school) were awarded grants ranging from $600 to $10,000. In the next year, 2004-2005, 21 schools (elementary through high school) were funded in amounts ranging from $1000 to $6000. The various programs included peer mediation, peer leadership, anti-bullying, parent education, and conflict resolution curriculum. Law students enrolled in the University of Maryland  School of Law’s yearlong Mediation Clinic acted as  liaisons between the grantees and C-DRUM, assisting in school planning meetings and student training, serving as role models for the students, and in some cases, providing presentations to students about the court system and how mediation is used in the courts. In 2005-2006, the Schools Program shifted its emphasis from “small and innovative” initiatives to programs that are part of a comprehensive school-wide approach in Conflict Resolution Education; grants ranging from $1000 to $8000 were awarded to 14 schools (elementary through high school).  C-DRUM conducted an intensive two-day summer training for school teams conducted by experts from the Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management, which provided a foundation in Conflict Resolution Education and provided each attendee with a large resource guide developed by the Ohio Commission, rich in age-appropriate lesson plans and indexed for easy use.

Click here for additional information about Maryland's programming in conflict management.


New Mexico

New Mexico’s Department of Education utilizes mediation for conflicts arising particularly over special education issues. When questions or concerns arise about a student's special education program, federal and state laws provide several avenues for dispute resolution. Parents and other parties can choose from several mechanisms to resolve their disputes. Many disagreements can be resolved informally during follow-up IEP meetings or other conferences with principals or other district-level administrators. Other disagreements can be resolved with the help of third-party assistance such as advocacy, mediation, or a facilitated IEP meeting. Still other disagreements may need to be formally resolved through state complaint procedures or a due process hearing.

Click here for publications, links, and additional information about New Mexico's work in special education dispute resolution.


North Carolina

The North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention – Center for the Prevention for School Violence began work on a pre-service educator conflict management project in early 2000. The pre-service teacher conflict management component of the project was designed to enhance the training of future teachers so that they are better prepared to handle conflicts which might occur in their classrooms. The pre-service administrator component of the project was designed to improve the skills of administrators so that they support teachers in the handling of conflicts and provide the leadership and direction needed to establish safer learning environments. Over the two-year project period, with assistance from college and university administrators and faculty, the Center has produced curriculum material to be used in the training of pre-service educators. Feedback from the colleges and universities was combined with information about conflict resolution, dispute resolution, and peacekeeping skills to create the curriculum material which focuses on self assessment, effective communication skills, and strategies to overcome conflict. The Center also worked with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to enhance teacher certification competencies in conflict management including requiring teachers take a class on conflict management to receive their teaching license. Project efforts will continue by assisting other states as they move forward with similar efforts.

Click here to be connected to the Conflict Management Pilot Program in North Carolina.



The Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management (the Commission), a state government agency, supports the efforts of school districts, setting up training programs, and providing program development leadership and expertise. The Commission, established in 1989, provides dispute resolution and conflict management resources, training, and direct services to Ohio schools, colleges, universities, courts, communities, and state and local governments. It was the United States' first and currently only government-sponsored Commission to promote dispute resolution at all levels of society.

The Commission in partnership with the Ohio Department of Education have promoted conflict management programming in primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities through grants, training and resource development with the goal of institutionalizing conflict management into the daily operations of educational institutions.  To achieve this goal they have provided grant training programs, regional professional development, a truancy prevention through mediation program, an annual Higher Education Institute for Education Department Faculty, and distance learning courses.  The grant training program has enabled more than 800 elementary, middle and high schools to integrate non-violent dispute resolution techniques into their overall curriculum, teaching conflict management as a life skill.  Currently teams of faculty from thirty-six Ohio colleges and universities have participated in the annual Higher Education Institute where participants learn to understand the rationale for the integration of conflict resolution into higher education, to demonstrate the knowledge of core concepts, and to develop an action plan to implement a conflict resolution curriculum in teacher education.

Between 1990 and 2003 the number of school districts with conflict management programs in Ohio grew from 30 to more than 400 reporting some form of a conflict management program.  While in 1993 there were a mere 208 schools that reported having a conflict management program, in 2005 there are more than 1800 schools with programs.

Click here for more information on grants, training, and resources for schools and universities in Ohio.



The Tennessee Department of Education’s School Safety Center support a number of projects related to conflict management and the peaceable school approach.  One example of this is the partnership with the Tennessee Legal Community Foundation of the Tennessee Bar Association which provides conflict resolution and classroom management training to teams of elementary and middle school teachers and administrators. Training and materials are provided at no cost. In addition to the basic three-day institute, specialized and advanced training is available. 

Click on the links below for more information on this project and other training available in Tennessee.


Additional Resources

There are many organizations and resources that can help your school create an effective conflict management plan to meet your schools needs.  On this final day of the event, please complete these last two steps:

  1. Review the list of additional resources located in the Resources and Links section.  You will find links to potential funding sources, training, resources, research, and organizations with information on conflict management.
  2. Identify one resource that you find interesting and useful, follow the link, and spend some time reviewing the resource or learning about the organization.

Thank you for participating in the online course, Conflict Management in Schools: Research and Effective Programs.

We hope that you learned from and enjoyed the event!