10 SES 17 E, Research on Teacher Induction and Early Career Teachers
As professional educational leaders in the classroom, teachers are required to balance between individual and collective needs of their students, students’ families, school administrators and educational policy makers. Schools are not islands, and a range of conflicts are entering schools and classrooms all around Europe. Teacher are expected to face and experience the conflicts that surface every day and will develop an understanding of these situations as well as skills and strategies to meet them. They play a key role in creating cooperative and constructive spaces for children and pupils to learn to manage conflicts in nonviolent and constructive ways instead of using violence.
Scholars in the field of conflict resolution have presented constructive and democratic ways to understand, manage, resolve or transform conflicts in classrooms and schools (Bickmore, 2004, 2013; Cremin, 2014; Deutsch, 1949, 2006; Johnson & Johnson, 1996, 2014; Skiba & Peterson, 2000). However, teachers have had difficulties to translate the theoretical knowledge of scholars into their teaching practice. One explanation could be that teachers often understand conflicts as deeply negative, as found in several empirical studies (Bickmore, 2004; Bodine & Crawford, 1998: 35). Consequently, they associate to destructive and escalated situations when asked to reflect on conflicts and conflict strategies in their classrooms and find discussions about constructive ways hard to follow. Another explanation could be that researchers have paid little attention to how teachers actually understand and handle the increasing number of conflict situations that occur in their daily practice. Most of them have not yet been escalated and could be labelled minor distractions and/or disturbances and sometimes regarded as difficulties to deal with differences. Scholars in the field of conflict resolution in schools, have theoretically argued that minor distractions and disturbances are conflicts because the actions of one of conflict partners prevent, block or interfere with the other in their efforts to reach their goal (Johnson & Johnson, 2006; Deutsch, 1973). Minor conflicts have the potential to grow into an escalated conflict (Glasl, 1999). Fortunately, they are often recognised and managed by teachers.
Empirical studies on teachers’ experiences with challenging situations and minor disturbances can be found in the research field of classroom management, interested in questions such as teachers’ competences in using adequate disciplinary actions when pupils are regarded as misbehaving or disturbing (reacting to so-called individual behavior problems). Scholars in the field of conflict resolution, however, have been interested in conflict situations as developing and learning opportunities.
Since the teachers’ perspective on emerging conflict situations has not been thoroughly investigated and since it seems plausible that teachers, who are in the middle of the classroom turmoil, has developed a tacit know on how to understand and manage emerging conflict, we wanted to ask them. Furthermore, we wanted to examine if and in what way understandings inform the strategies teacher choose. In depth insights in this relationship can support teachers in other contexts to reflect on their understanding when they like to make a choice.
Research questions: How do primary school teachers convert different understandings of emerging conflict into actions, so called conflict resolution strategies? Does every different understanding of emerging conflict have a unique set of conflict resolution strategies?
This study has been carried out by using a mix-method design driven by a qualitative inductive research approach with a sequential qualitative supplementary component (Morse & Niehaus, 2009). This design fitted the aim and research questions of the study best. It allowed for a collection of data on teachers experiences and perceptions of their actions on handling daily conflicts solidly grounded in teachers’ different understandings of emerging conflict.
A mix method design focuses on valuing the expertise of teachers by providing an inductive and emic account of their experiences. Qualitative interviews were used as the core component to investigate teachers’ understandings of emerging conflicts supplemented by qualitative focus groups to validate these understandings and examine the conflict resolution strategies used per understanding of emerging conflict. Data on teachers’ conflict resolution strategies could not be obtained before knowing their understandings of emerging conflicts. In the individual in-depth semi-structured interview study, participants were 20 teachers, grades 1 to 6 (i.e. 7 to 12-year olds), from four public elementary schools in Sweden. The participating teachers differed in gender (15 female and 5 male) and teaching experience (2 to 38 years). The interviews were conducted between October 2015 and February 2016. Each interview lasted approximately 1 hour. In the focus group interviews, the participants were 18 teachers (13 female and 5 male), grades 1 to 6 from public elementary schools in Sweden. Each focus group interview consisted of 2-3 teachers and lasted 1,5-2 hours. The focus group interviews were conducted between June 2017 and march 2018. All interviews were recorded (audio) and transcribed verbatim. The individual interviews aimed at capturing teachers understanding of emerging conflicts between a teacher and pupil within the classroom. An out-of-seat-situation was used as a probe to make the interviewed teachers talk about emerging conflicts. Follow up questions were: How do you understand a situation like this? What would you do? Is this a conflict? Why? of Why not? Where does the conflict start? The supplementary focus group interviews were designed with a departure in the different ways of understanding emerging conflict and inspired by the emerging conflict probe we used in the individual interview study. Data analysis The transcripts of the individual interviews were analysed to uncover categories of understanding emerging conflict in the data. The transcripts were analysed both using recursive readings by individual researchers and collaborative discussions between the researchers of the team. Eventually nine distinctive categories of understanding emerging conflict were formulated. The transcripts from the focus group interviews were analysed to uncover strategies linked to the nine different understandings of emerging conflict. The transcripts were analysed using recursive readings by individual researchers as well as collaborative discussions between the members of the research team. At the end of this process 22 themes of strategies were formulated in connection to the nine different understandings.
The findings of the first study revealed nine different understandings of emerging conflict. They were: emerging conflict as A. challenge of agenda B. challenge of expectations C. direct challenge of the authority of the teacher D. lack of adequate organisation E. substitute for another conflict F. deviances from the professional role of the teacher G. lack of relation H. shortcomings in communication I. conflict of interest The findings of the focus group interviews showed how each of these nine understandings could be linked to different themes of strategies (1-4 themes per understanding). The results from both studies where merged into a theoretical model describing how different understandings of emerging conflict delimits different themes of strategies to handle this kind of conflicts. The model consists of the following themes A. challenge of agenda: A1. Keep/maintain focus on the lesson B. challenge of expectations: B1. Focus on individual agreements B2. Momentarily abandon of individual agreements B3. Make individual agreements work C. direct challenge of the authority of the teacher C1. one to one conversation C2. clear structure and role distribution D. lack of adequate organisation D1. transfer responsibility to municipal and school level D2. interact with the school level D3. take on responsibility at classroom level E. substitute for another conflict E1. Change arena to where the conflict takes place E2. Empathy and Care F. deviances from the professional role of the teacher F1. Being human F2. Tacking back the role of a teacher F3. Hand over G. lack of relation G1. Build relationships H. shortcomings in communication H1. Change lesson plans H2. One to one conversation H3. Inform about classroom structure H4. Alternative ways of communicating I. conflict of interest I1. plan to create interest I2. positive reinforcement I3. Involve students The model will be graphically presented and explained
Bickmore, K. (2004). Discipline for democracy? School districts' management of conflict and social exclusion. Theory & Research in Social Education, 32(1), 75-97. DOI:10.1080/00933104.2004.10473244 Bickmore, K. (2014). Citizenship Education in Canada: ‘Democratic’ Engagement with Differences, Conflicts, and Equity Issues? Citizenship Teaching and Learning 9(3), 257-278. DOI: 10.1386/ctl.9.3.257_1 Bodine, R, J., & Crawford, D. K. (1998). The Handbook of Conflict Resolution Education. A Guide to Building Quality Programs in Schools. The Jossey-Bass Education Series. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc. Publishers Cremin, H. (2014) Critical perspectives on restorative justice/restorative approaches in educational setting. (111-122). I Edward Sellman, Hilary Cremin, & Gillian McCluskey (Eds) Restorative Aproaches to conflict in schools. Interdisciplinary perspectives on whole school approaches to managing relationships. London: Routledge Deutsch, M. (1949). A Theory of Cooperation and Competition. Human Relations, 2,129-152. DOI:10.1177/001872674900200204 Deutsch, M., Coleman, P. T., & Marcus, E. C. (red) (2006, 3de upplagen 2014) The handbook of conflict-resolution: Theory and practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Glasl, F. (1999). Confronting conflict: A first aid kit for handling conflict. Stroud: Hawthorn press. Hakvoort, I., Larsson, K. & Lundström, A. (2018). Teacher’s Understandings of emerging conflicts. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 1-15. DOI: 10.1080/00313831.2018.1484800 Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. (1996). Conflict resolution and peer mediation programs in elementary and secondary schools. A review of the research, Review of Educational research, 66(4), 459-506. DOI:10.3102/00346543066004459 Johnson, D. & Johnson, R. (2014). Conflict Resolution in Schools. I Peter T., Coleman, Morton Deutsch & Eric C. Marcus, (2014, 3de upplagan) The handbook of conflict-resolution: Theory and practice (kapitel 47 elektronisk resurs). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. https://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-818315.html [2018-11-17] Morse, J. M. & Niehaus, L. (2009). Mixed method design: Principles and procedures. Ne York: Routledge. Skiba, R. S. & Peterson, R. L. (2000). School discipline at a crossroads: From zero tolerance to early response. Exceptional Children, 66(3), 335-346. DOI:10.1177/001440290006600305
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