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Conflict Resolution in PE: A Teacher's Guide to Problem-Solving Using the RESOLVE Method

Physical education plays a pivotal role in the development of students, not only physically but also socially and emotionally. When a group of students with diverse backgrounds and temperaments come together in a physical setting, conflicts are bound to occur. It is essential for PE teachers to have the skills to manage these conflicts effectively, as it can have a significant impact on the learning environment. Conflict resolution in physical education is an essential part of a teacher's role. It is not only about resolving disputes but also about teaching students the essential life skills of problem-solving, negotiation, and emotional intelligence.

Conflict Resolution in Physical Education: A Practical Guide using the RESOLVE Method

Understanding and implementing a structured approach to conflict resolution can lead to a more positive and productive learning environment. RESOLVE is an acronym that provides a simple and systematic approach for PE teachers to address and manage conflicts among students. In the following sections, we delve into each component of the RESOLVE approach, the importance of conflict resolution in PE, and practical strategies to manage conflict, such as using a conflict area somewhere in the learning space.


Importance of Addressing Conflict Resolution in PE Classes

Conflict resolution skills are not just for the immediate resolution of disputes; they are life skills. In PE, conflicts often arise due to competitive nature, differences in abilities, or interpersonal issues among students. By addressing conflict resolution, PE teachers empower students with communication skills, emotional intelligence, and creative problem-solving abilities. This fosters a positive learning environment where students can focus on physical development and the cultivation of healthy relationships.

While the primary focus of this article is conflict resolution in physical education, the skills acquired through the RESOLVE method, such as effective communication and problem-solving, are transferable and invaluable in dealing with workplace conflict later in life.


RESOLVE Acronym Explained: Steps for Conflict Resolution

Let's take a closer look at each component of the RESOLVE acronym and how these steps can be used as a guide for dealing with conflicts in a physical education setting.

RESOLVE- Let's Work it Out Visual

Reach Out (R)

When a conflict arises, it is important for the parties involved to come together. PE teachers should encourage students to approach each other and be willing to resolve the conflict. This initial step is essential in creating an open dialogue between the two or more parties involved and sets the tone for open communication and a willingness to solve the problem at hand. Early in the year, teachers may need to guide students through this process, but as students become more accustomed to it, they will begin to initiate this step independently.


Engage in a Conversation (E)

Engaging in conversation requires calm and orderly communication. Teachers must guide students in listening skills, remaining calm and ensure that they talk one at a time. This helps in setting a respectful tone for the conversation. As students practice this skill, they'll learn to maintain composure and articulate their perspectives effectively without teacher intervention.


Seek to Solve the Problem (S)

The key to resolving conflict is an earnest effort to find a solution. Teachers should guide students in agreeing to seek sensible solutions to the problem, which could involve decision-making and compromise. Direct students to focus on solutions, not just the problem. Encourage them to come up with realistic and acceptable solutions collaboratively. Initially, teachers might need to facilitate this step, but over time, students will be able to handle this process on their own.


Open Up (O)

Students should be encouraged to calmly communicate their side of the story, explaining their feelings and emotions. This helps in creating a better understanding of each person’s perspective. This honest expression fosters empathy and understanding among conflicting parties. With repeated practice, students will learn to express their emotions and thoughts effectively.


Listen Intently (L)

Active listening is a crucial component in conflict resolution. Students should be encouraged to listen intently to the other party, recognizing the importance of understanding their point of view. Encourage students to listen to understand, not just respond. Through continued practice, students will develop this essential skill, which they'll apply not only in resolving conflicts but in daily communication as well.


Voice Solutions (V)

Brainstorming for possible solutions to disagreements is an essential part of the conflict resolution process. Teachers can facilitate a discussion where students voice alternative solutions to resolve the conflict. Encourage students to suggest potential solutions to the conflict. Initially, teachers may need to guide the brainstorming session, but over time, students will be more confident and competent in suggesting and evaluating possible resolutions.


End on a Good Note (E)

Finally, students should learn to end the conflict resolution process on a positive note. Encourage a handshake, a high-five, or any gesture that signifies the conflict is resolved. This action promotes a positive atmosphere and reinforces mutual respect. It is important to end the resolution process positively. Agreeing to hear the solutions, offering compliments, can foster goodwill and respect.


While the RESOLVE method is designed for use in Physical Education classes, its application extends beyond the school setting; the skills developed, such as conflict analysis and resolution, can significantly benefit students in future workplace conflicts


Creating a Conducive Environment for Conflict Resolution

One practical strategy that PE teachers can adopt to resolve conflict is the use of a conflict resolution area (table, or section of the room). This is a designated area within the learning space where students can address conflicts under the teacher's guidance. This setting provides a formal yet safe environment for students to express their feelings and engage in problem-solving.

Creating a Conducive Environment for Conflict Resolution

Pic by Megan Hayes @sawyerme07

The conflict resolution area should be a neutral space, set apart from the regular learning area. It should be equipped with visual aids such as a RESOLVE chart that guides students through the conflict resolution process. This fosters a sense of ownership among students in resolving their conflicts, enhancing their interpersonal skills in the process.


Empowering Students with a RESOLVE Visual Aid

Visual aids, like a poster detailing the RESOLVE process, can be an excellent tool to help students remember and understand each step. When a conflict arises, they can refer to this visual aid to help guide their discussion and resolution process. PE teachers should introduce and explain this visual aid at the beginning of the year, continually referring to it during conflict resolution situations.

Pic by PerkettPE • Jason Steele, M.Ed. @PerkettPE

Role-playing is an effective strategy to practice the RESOLVE steps. Teachers can create scenarios involving conflicts and guide students through the process of resolving these conflicts using the RESOLVE approach to conflict situations. This not only ingrains the steps in students but also allows them to practice and build their conflict resolution skills in a controlled setting.


These visuals serve as a constant reminder of the conflict resolution process, helping to internalize the steps and reinforce their importance. By incorporating such a visual into your teaching environment, you're demonstrating a commitment to conflict management, ultimately creating a more positive and supportive learning environment.


Cultivating Self-Reliance: The Long-Term Impact of the RESOLVE Method

The RESOLVE method, combined with tools like a visual aid and a designated conflict resolution area, aims to create a self-sufficient learning environment where students can independently resolve their conflicts. While teacher guidance is essential in the early stages, the goal is to equip students with the skills to independently navigate through conflicts.

Cultivating Self-Reliance: The Long-Term Impact of the RESOLVE Method

As students become familiar with and routinely practice these steps, they'll learn to approach conflicts proactively, engage in effective communication, and collaboratively develop solutions, even without direct teacher intervention. Repetition is key when learning a new skill. Therefore, consistent use of the RESOLVE visual aid during PE classes will eventually lead to students mastering the steps and applying them effectively whenever conflicts arise.


Final Thoughts

Conflicts, while challenging, offer an opportunity to practice and develop essential skills such as active listening, negotiation, and problem-solving ability. As physical education teachers, it's our role to provide our students with a framework to manage these situations effectively.

The RESOLVE acronym offers a practical and intuitive approach to conflict resolution. Embrace conflict resolution as an integral part of your teaching practice. With RESOLVE, each conflict situation becomes a teachable moment, a chance to instill in our students a set of lifelong skills for better communication, understanding, and harmony.

By using this tool, along with strategies like a Conflict Resolution Area and visual aids, we can cultivate an environment that promotes respect, understanding, and cooperation. By doing so, we're not only teaching our students how to play games or perform exercises but also how to navigate the complexities of interpersonal relationships, empowering them with skills that extend well beyond the gymnasium.

Conflict resolution in physical education is not just about handling disputes in the present; it's about teaching students a lifelong skill. The RESOLVE method serves as a valuable tool that, when properly taught and practiced, can empower students to manage conflicts independently. This fosters an environment of mutual respect, understanding, and self-reliance, making the PE space a platform for holistic personal development.


FREE Visual for Your Learning Space!

Do you need a practical way to give your students the ability to solve problems when a conflict issue occurs between 2 students? If so, Cap'n Pete's Power PE has you covered!The visual works as a great tool for giving students problem solving skill without repeated, direct teacher intervention?

FREE Visual for Your Learning Space!

Fill out the form below to download a "Let's Work it Out" visual that you can use to reference when guiding your students with working out issues. The Conflict Resolution Poster: RESOLVE- Let's Work it Out (in 5 color schemes) displays the word RESOLVE as an acronym for “working out” conflict situations and/or disputes. Seven RESOLVE statements for conflict resolution are listed and specific “actions” are explained to help guide the students through the process. The statements are brief, yet POWERFUL!

This freebie set will be sure to enhance your PE program for years!


Need more visual resources to help with your teaching?

Teaching physical education can be difficult. There are so many different things to cover, and it's hard to know what is the most important. I can help you make teaching PE simpler with engaging, student-friendly graphics that you may utilize on your gym wall or via a monitor. Visual aids can assist make physical education instruction much more simple. They break down complex topics into easy-to-understand visuals that will engage your students and help them learn.

If you're looking for high-quality visuals to help you teach PE and health, go with the Cap'n Pete's PE Poster Bundle: Physical Education and Health: 12 Reference Posters.

Cap'n Pete's Top Physical Education Posters - 25 Set Super Bundle.

You can download the bundle (or individual resources) from either of the following platforms: Cap'n Pete's Power PE Website or Teachers Pay Teachers- Cap'n Pete's TPT Store

Below are links to the visuals (downloaded individually) that make up this PE Poster Bundle: