The best selling author Max Lucado stated, “Conflict is inevitable. Combat is optional.” This is true in all realms, whether personal or professional. And nowhere is it more obvious than when dealing with adolescents and teenagers. Their major objective at home and at school appears to be to challenge authority. However, adults can choose a response to these provocations that can avoid combat. One expert in conflict resolution provides the following advice: “Remembering that we have the option to avoid combat, that we are in control, should strengthen us to be more assertive when confronted with conflict. Being aggressive and combative in conflict (or using complete avoidance tactics) is only hiding our intention to ‘win’ the battle and so force the other party to lose.”
In a classroom, where the adult is certainly outnumbered by at least 20 to 1, the temptation for the teacher can be to return a sarcastic or flippant remark in kind. And that would be a mistake! Staying calm and objective in the face of a potentially contentious interaction can de-fuse the situation and maintain a warm classroom climate that is conducive to instruction. Consider the following scenario:
A high school English teacher assigns the students several Shakespearean sonnets to read and explain. One student yells out, “I hate Shakespeare. This is so boring!” Instead of engaging in combat by replying negatively. (“Just shut up and do it.”) and allowing the disruptive student to play to his audience, the teacher can calmly use a diffuser. Here are a few alternatives: “Wait Wait, there’s more!” “Nevertheless, we will continue.” “I hear you.” “Oh, well!” According to Rick Dahlgren, President and CEO of the Center for Teacher Effectiveness, “Don’t take the debate bait!”
The teacher’s diffuser response, may even generate a few chuckles. It indicates that the teacher will not engage in combat with the student. And the lesson can continue. Diffusers present just one quick and easy way to maintain a positive classroom climate. For more information and a list of diffusers, contact me: Laura@HandleEducation.com.