It’s important to know what to do when you have a conflict at school. Whether you are teen, tween, or younger there are things that you can do to settle a problem. At NESS, from K-12, these are the general steps that students and parents can take if they have a problem at school.
Discipline vs Punishment (Barbara Coloroso, YouTube)
Our protocol for handling conflicts at NESS follows this path:
1) WITS and REACH skills. (Walk away, Ignore, Talk it out, Seek help) (Respect/responsibility, Effort, Assertiveness, Caring/Empathy, Help). We discuss WITS and REACH at our Monday morning assemblies with the K-7′s and talk about different ways to settle common conflicts. Teachers also follow up on Positive Behaviour Support in their classroom discussions. In the secondary school, teachers speak with their classes and the administration also holds assemblies to elaborate upon what it means to be safe, responsible and respectful in school. “Dim haniididilshl Nisga’a-hl ayuuk!” Live according to Nisga’a ethics: respect, compassion, one heart, unity, take care, continue to do well and be steadfast.
2) When a conflict occurs, the student uses his/her WITS to solve the conflict on his/her own. At NESS we endeavour to teach our kids independence and resourcefulness, as well as good friendship skills.
3) If walking away, ignoring, talking it out doesn’t work the student seeks help from the teacher or the education assistant in the classroom. The teacher assists students in talking out the conflict and seeking solutions.
4) If the conflict persists, the student seeks help with the teacher again. The teacher enlists the help of both parents to resolve the conflict.
- Sometimes the parents work outside of the school to resolve the conflict.
- Sometimes the student talks to his/her parent instead of a teacher and then the parent talks to the teacher.
5) If the conflict persists, the teacher may call a parent meeting to discuss the problem in person. Together the teacher and parents speak with the children involved. This meeting might involve both sets of parents, or it might involve separate meetings. “Haagwil huwilin”. Teachers endeavour to find the best path for conflict resolution. Variations of Barbara Coloroso’s conflict resolution practice of one pen/one paper is practiced by teachers and administrators, and often teachers work as a team to help students solve conflicts.
6) If the conflict is not solved, the teacher refers the student(s) to administration. The administrator works with the students to help resolve the conflict. Response to Intervention includes:
- Contacting parents
- Working with student(s) to determine the background to the conflict
- Working with the student(s) to reflect on what the root cause of the conflict is through a reflection journal process; discussion of alternative choices; and teaching of empathy
- Administering a consequence can involve a variety of strategies, some of which are: apologizing in person; writing a note of apology; recess detention; lunch detention; early dismissal for the day; office suspension; supervised play; restricted extracurricular activities; student contract; daily report and/or a restorative action.
7) If the conflict persists, the administrator and parents of students will enlist the aid of the District Counsellor to determine next steps such as:
- a peace plan between both students
- a scaffolded positive behaviour plan for the student to follow that outlines the next steps the student and teacher will follow if problem behaviour continues
- targeted teaching of friendship skills in the classroom and with district counsellor
We hope by following this stepped approach to conflict resolution that we can successfully teach our students self advocacy, independence and strong friendship skills.