Managing disagreements at school

We all get into disagreements at work from time to time, so it’s important to learn how to manage them productively. The end goal is to hopefully re-establish a peaceful working relationship, but it’s necessary to first mitigate the situation and negotiate a resolution between the two parties.

Disagreements at work are often sparked by changes in workload or job roles, poor communication, inadequate training or personality and cultural differences, but there can be many other reasons:

Personality clashes

Different personalities can inevitably lead to disagreements, whether it be due to differences in teaching philosophies, communication styles or purely different mannerisms.

Working styles

Colleagues may disagree or misunderstand one another’s working style. One teacher may encourage creative thinking in his or her pupils, whereas another may prefer to apply a more heavily structured curriculum. If planning lessons together, one teacher may leave it to the last minute, causing the other stress.

Power struggles

Roles in the workplace can sometimes be unclear. This can result in one person assuming control over other staff against their consent, or staff members feeling unclear about whom they should report to. Staff members may have had past struggles that were never completely resolved, causing them to resurface later in unrelated situations.

Conflict may have arisen because of competition for the same resources or opportunities, resentment over a colleague’s management style, or bullying in the workplace.

Change in workload or roles

Have there been cutbacks? Did one staff member receive a promotion while another did not? Employees can become fearful about their job security, or resentful about being supervised by someone they previously regarded as their equal. Additionally, extra work can cause added pressure, which inevitably breeds an environment of tension and conflict.

Needs and expectations

Conflict often arises when one does not feel that his or her needs and expectations are sufficiently met. Most employees can agree on a certain number of shared needs: expectations for pay, job satisfaction, fair supervision, amicable working relationships and a healthy work-life integration. Other needs vary from person to person: one person may do their job because they enjoy sharing knowledge with others, while another may do it to satisfy their own curiosity and need for research. One teacher may be looking for respect and esteem, while another only wants to impart knowledge to others.

You can download and print a PDF of the full guide below.