August 8, 2023

Conflict in the Classroom: Understanding and Resolving It

AUTHOR: Michelle Drumm

Conflicts in the classroom can arise from a variety of sources, such as differences in learning styles, social skills, or goals, misunderstandings, or disputes over resources, responsibilities, or performance. These conflicts can have negative consequences for students, teachers, and the learning environment, including decreased engagement, achievement, and motivation, increased absenteeism, disciplinary issues, and stress, and damaged relationships and trust. Therefore, it is essential to recognise, manage, and resolve conflicts in a constructive and respectful manner. In this article, we will explore some of the causes and types of classroom conflicts, as well as some strategies and tools to address them effectively.


Conflicts can arise from many factors that affect how students perceive and interact with each other and the classroom environment. Some common causes of classroom conflicts are:

  • Communication breakdowns: Miscommunication, poor listening, language barriers, or cultural differences can lead to misunderstandings, assumptions, and conflicts.
  • Differences in values, beliefs, and attitudes: Students may have different priorities, standards, or opinions about what is important, fair, or ethical, which can create clashes in expectations, behaviours, or decisions.
  • Personality clashes: Students may have different personalities, temperaments, or communication styles, which can lead to conflicts in how they interact, collaborate, or contribute.
  • Competition for resources: Students may have conflicting interests, goals, or needs for attention, materials, or recognition, which can create tension, resentment, or envy.
  • Power struggles: Students may have different levels of influence, status, or popularity, which can create conflicts over leadership, participation, or inclusion.


Classroom conflicts can take many forms, depending on the nature, intensity, and duration of the disagreement. Some common types of classroom conflicts are:

  • Interpersonal conflicts: These conflicts arise between students who have a personal or academic relationship, such as classmates, group members, or partners. They may involve verbal or nonverbal communication, behaviour, or attitudes that affect the other student’s feelings, rights, or learning.
  • Group conflicts: These conflicts arise between members of a group or team who have different roles, responsibilities, or goals. They may involve disagreements over ideas, strategies, or roles, or a lack of trust, support, or cooperation.
  • Classroom conflicts: These conflicts arise between the teacher and the students, or among different students or groups, over classroom management, rules, procedures, or expectations. They may involve conflicts over resources, feedback, or recognition, or a lack of understanding, empathy, or respect.


To resolve classroom conflicts effectively, it is important to adopt a collaborative, proactive, and respectful approach that acknowledges the interests, emotions, and perspectives of all parties involved. Some strategies and tools to resolve classroom conflicts are:

  • Communication: Encourage open, honest, and respectful communication between the parties involved, using active listening, empathy, and feedback to clarify and validate their perspectives, needs, and goals.
  • Mediation: Use a neutral third party to facilitate constructive dialogue and negotiation between the parties involved, helping them to identify common ground, interests, and solutions that meet everyone’s needs.
  • Conflict resolution training: Provide training and resources to students, teachers, and staff on conflict resolution skills, such as communication, negotiation, problem-solving, and emotional intelligence.
  • Classroom management policies: Develop and enforce policies and procedures that define the expectations, standards, and consequences of conflict resolution and prevention, such as respectful behaviour, conflict reporting, investigation, and resolution.
  • Collaboration: Encourage collaboration and teamwork among students, teachers, and staff, by fostering a culture of trust, transparency, and accountability, and by recognising and rewarding collaborative behaviours.

Remember, in the classroom, conflicts can be like math problems – they may seem tough at first, but with the right approach and some problem-solving skills, you can find the solution and come out smarter and stronger than before!