Conflict: How Do You Handle It?

For students of 3rd to 4th grade.

Grades: 3rd-4th 
Guidance &Counseling Strand:	Career Knowledge and Skills
Personal/Social Knowledge and Skills
Guidance &Counseling Competency(s):	Use conflict resolution skills to solve conflicts effectively.
AKS (Academic Knowledge & Skills): 	4HE_G1998-11 Describe ways to resolve conflicts without fighting

Materials Needed:
4 Signs (11" - 18" colored paper) with the words- Turtle, Shark, Owl, Teddy Bear

Length of Lesson:
Two-Three 30-minute sessions

Assessment Options:
Counselor and teacher observation of student interaction and discussion
Feedback from students regarding photos found on the Flickr website
Powerpoint presentations

Discuss ideas for the definition of conflict.
Discuss ideas for ways to handle conflicts.
Introduce the four ways people deal with conflict in their lives.  (Turtle, Shark, Owl & Teddy Bear)
Students will identify their personal style for handling conflict.  (movement activity)
Discuss pros and cons of each conflict style and stress the importance of creating a balanced style.

Today we are going to learn our own personal style of dealing with conflict and to learn some effective methods for dealing with personal conflict.

Activity 1:
Before beginning the lesson, post one of the conflict types in each corner.

Write the title "Conflict Style" on the board.  How would you define the term "conflict"?  Take several suggestions and discuss how they are related to conflict.  Tell the students that the definition that we will be using will be:  Conflict is when two or more people disagree about things or ideas.  You may want to explain that when we are very young we often have conflicts with others about things, i.e. my toy, my room, my friend, and so on.  As we grow older we have more conflicts about ideas, i.e. how I want to do something versus someone else.

Then say:  Each one of us has different ways of handling conflicts.  I have four "types" to describe to you.  As I read them, try to see which type describes you the best when it comes to how you handle conflicts.  You may want to encourage the students to be honest and not just do what their friends do.   Tell students that "After I finish reading each of the four descriptions, they will be asked to move without talking to the conflict type that best describes how they handle conflict most often."   At this point, you may want to check to see if the students understand the directions.

Read each of the four conflict types.  You may want to read each type twice.
Conflict Types:
	The Turtle:  Turtles try to avoid conflicts by pulling their heads into their shells or withdrawing.  When they see conflict they try to stay away from getting involved.  They believe that conflicts really can't be solved.  They are usually willing to give up their personal goals and friendships to avoid conflicts.  That is, they just "pull their heads" into their shells, give in, and will not "stand their ground."

	The Shark:  Sharks deal with conflict by forcing the other person to agree with them.  Since their goals are more important to them than their friendships, they seldom care about the needs or feelings of the other person in the conflict.  Winning a conflict gives them a sense of pride and achievement.  Losing a conflict makes them feel weak and not OK.  They have a very high need to avoid losing and view it as personal failure.

	The Teddy Bear:  Teddy Bears want to like others and have others like them.  They try to avoid conflict at all costs so they will be accepted and liked by everyone.  They give up their belief in things that are important to them just so people will continue to like them.

	The Owls:  Owls see conflicts as problems that can be solved in ways that make each person in the conflict feel OK.  They see working through a conflict to a satisfactory conclusion as a way of improving the friendship.  They are not satisfied until both parties' needs are met and they both feel good about the solution.  They also often find themselves mediating conflict that occurs between others.

Now, give the class permission to begin to move quietly about the room.  (You will want to observe the way students move about the room.  Look for those who allow peer pressure to change their minds and those who just can't seem to decide.)  Once each student has found a conflict type to stand by, begin the discussion phase.  Ask for several volunteers to share why they feel that conflict type describes them.  Do this with all four types.  Next, ask what do you think the strengths of your conflict type are?  Do this with all four groups and allow other groups to add their ideas.  After that ask each group what they think the weaknesses are for their conflict type.  Examples:

Conflict Type			
Strengths:  avoids negative relationships/are committed friends	
Weaknesses: rarely steps out of their comfort zone/doesn't often    stand up for themselves

Teddy Bear
Strengths:  are committed friends/are very accepting of others	
Weaknesses: have great difficulty saying NO/can be talked into taking negative risks

Strengths:  natural leaders/willing to stand up for their beliefs
Weaknesses: willing to lose a friend to win/often seen as bossy

Strengths:  uses communication skills to build strong friendships/understands how to use compromise/willing to stand up for their beliefs
Weaknesses: can be over involved in others'conflicts

Now tell the students, now that you know how you often deal with conflict and you know your style's strengths and weaknesses, think about which conflict style you need to become more like in order to be more successful.  Ask students to quietly move.  They may choose to stay put and that is fine.  Take time to go around to each group and ask for volunteers to explain why they made their moves.  Share with the students that no one is just one type.  Each of us is a combination and that at different times in our lives we need to be able to function as all four.

Activity 2 (Powerpoint & Flickr):
This activity will take 2-3 classroom guidance sessions. Explain that the students will begin working in small groups on a Powerpoint presentation that will utilize Flickr (groupware that allows for sharing photographs). The students will be encouraged to have a variety of “conflict types” in their group. The students will demonstrate an understanding of conflict management by incorporating the goals of the lesson (including a definition of conflict; ways to handle conflicts; illustrations of the four ways people deal with conflict-Turtle, Shark, Owl, Teddy Bear; pros and cons of each conflict style, stressing the importance of creating a balanced style) in their presentation. The students will use explore a variety of “tags” to arrive at pictures that illustrate their ideas and feelings about conflict. 

After viewing the slideshow presentations, remind the students that there are times when we need to be a turtle, a shark, a teddy bear, and an owl!  Although, owls tend to be well-rounded, even they need to able to select the positives from each style.  Each of us needs to learn which type we naturally function in and then add the strengths of the other types to equip ourselves with the communication skills that each of us needs to be successful!

Adapted from John Ryan (Gwinnett County Public Schools) and Educational Media Corporation activity 1.15