Conflict Resolution

In Teacher Collaboration:  When Belief Systems Collide Elena Aguilar (2016) shares and discusses ideas that were presented at a workshop she attended on addressing conflict in education.  The presenters at the Learning Forward workshop, Robert Garmston and Jennifer Abrams, stated that we should look at where conflict originates as a way to better understand conflict and how to address it in the school environment.  They found that one of the places we see conflict arise is out of our belief systems.  Most of us in education have a belief system or idea of what we believe is the purpose of education and this belief system guides us in our decision making.  Garmston (2012) identifies 6 belief systems that influence educators’ decision making.  They include: religious orthodoxy, cognitive process, self-actualization, technologist, academic rationalism, and social reconstructionism.  Aguilar (2016) suggest ranking these belief systems according to your beliefs and then trying this with your colleagues.

Aguilar’s ideas brought me back to our reading of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.  Lencioni (2005) describes dysfunction 2 as the fear of conflict and states we must “distinguish productive ideological conflict from destructive fighting and interpersonal politics” (p. 202).  Lencioni (2005) argues that teams that engage in productive conflict produce the best solutions, resolve issues quickly, and avoid personality – focused attacks.  As a school leader, helping others understand that conflict happens and can be productive is a great way to build strong, productive, and happy teams within your school.

Understanding that we all have different belief systems when it comes to making decisions in education and participating in an exercise that ranks our belief systems appears to be a great way to start a conversation.  Defining our personal belief system and other team member’s belief systems helps us to understand each other’s points of view when making important decisions.  This idea seems particularly important as we bring together people that come from different cultures.  If we all recognize that our common goal is the same and respect each other’s beliefs maybe compromise in reaching our goals will be a positive experiences and not one that leaves team members feeling misunderstood and unappreciated.


Aguilar, E. (2013). Teacher Collaboration: When Belief Systems Collide. Retrieved April 01, 2016, from

Garmston, R. J., & Frank, V. V. (2012).  Unlocking group potential to improve schools.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Lencioni, P. (2005). Overcoming the five dysfunctions of a team:  A field guide for leaders, managers, and facilitators. San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass.

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