School Managers and Conflict Management

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Arguably, conflict management training in teacher education programs is one of the most underemphasized areas of teacher development. Yet the reality in schools is that conflict is not only unavoidable, it is necessary. In times of constant educational changes, role-players may find out that dealing with conflict is pivotal in enhancing the change initiatives. Schools without constructive conflict management may not be able to perform optimally, especially when it comes to the management of change. This case study explored the desired skills of school managers and their staff in conflict management. The sampled school had been having intractable conflicts over a period of four years and has been disorganized and ineffective. The learners’ and teachers’ performance have been negatively affected. The researcher interviewed a sample of twenty participants individually as well as in focus groups to understand their notions on conflict management in a South African primary school. The findings demonstrate that when teachers do not understand conflict management, they will hardly resolve conflict-related challenges in their schools. Conflict management is a specialized area that needs teachers who understand its processes. Furthermore, teachers have to dig deep and understand their personal values if they are to understand others. The values that teachers embrace and the teachers’ move toward professional maturity will enhance their capability to be effective conflict managers. Finally, the study concludes that conflict management should not be the prerogative of school managers, in working schools; all teachers are conflict managers who are champions of change and excellence.