Sunday, September 24, 2023

Here’s how teachers handle conflict in the classroom

Yorktown Middle School math teacher Elizabeth O’Brien was named the Teacher of the Year for the York County School Division. (Photo courtesy YCSD)

Throughout the Peninsula, teachers spend their time in the classroom educating students and sometimes, disciplining them.

Depending on the school district, teachers undergo different training prior and during their teaching career to help resolve conflict in the classroom, so not every teacher is tasked to handle conflict the same.

Here are the ways teachers are trained to handle teacher-student conflict in following localities: Hampton, Newport News, York County and Williamsburg-James City County. The number of students enrolled in the 2018-2019 year are from the Department of Education and the number of schools do not include special programs such as adult education.

Williamsburg-James City County

Schools: 15

Students: 11,813

“WJCC Schools is committed to offering teachers and staff professional development opportunities that build upon their content knowledge and enhance their ability to provide services and supports to children,” Eileen Cox, spokeswoman for the school district, wrote in an email.

For the 2018-2019 school year, several teachers and administrators, including all elementary school teachers took a 12-hour course which dealt with how to identify and respond to “challenging behavior”.

“This training is being adapted for middle and high schools and will be delivered to all secondary school teachers and administrators next school year,” Cox said.

Another program the school plans to implement? A multi-tiered system of supports where teachers and staff get professional development to deal with behavior and problem solving techniques, and each school team takes more development training which is relayed to other staff during the school year.

It is unclear when that tier system will be administered to faculty members.

York County

Schools: 19

Students: 12,982

“The division has a very robust professional development and training program, both at the division level and the school level,” Katherine Goff, spokeswoman for York County school division wrote in an email.

The school division uses Virginia Tiered System of Supports and Positive Behavior Intervention System for its staff — all staff learn various techniques every year to manage the classroom by creating a positive learning environment, using common language and support systems (Tier I).

However, not all staff members learn more in-depth techniques (Tier II and Tier II). Those are specialized training programs and are more geared toward administrators, teachers and school counselors.

It is not clear if all teachers receive in-depth training — each school has team leaders who receive additional training four times a year. Administrators, on the other hand, receive in-depth training monthly, Goff said.

The training ranges from a teacher or counselor talking with students in a “structured dialogue” to a more “formal conference”.

Another technique the school division uses to resolve conflict is the Crisis Prevention Institute, which focuses on prevention and de-escalation.

“Each school is required to have at least three staff members, though most have more, training at each building,” Goff said, adding staff members gets trained every year and team members train as needed.


Schools: 31


In this school district, there is a focus on new teachers who must undergo a five-year plan which encompasses professional development.

“The first three years of the comprehensive model focuses on curriculum and instruction, curriculum models, climate and culture, and classroom management,” said Kellie Goral, spokeswoman for the city schools.

Goral noted new teachers who haven’t taught prior to joining the school district get one day of classroom management before school starts and three more days throughout the year.

All teachers are required to take a course on social emotional learning five different times this year, which focused on self-awareness about emotions and how they affect others.

It is not clear what other training teachers who reach the five-year mark undergo during the school year.

Newport News

Schools: 42

Students: 28,654

Before the school year starts, all employees, including new teachers have the option to take classes over the summer known as IGNITE which range from understanding trauma and creating a calm classroom to proactive behaviors and alternative approaches to discipline.

While those classes are not required, new teachers must attend youth development classes for one week with a focus on curriculum, community exceptions and learning specific to their school, said Angela Rhett, professional coordinator for the school district.

“As an extension from previous years, we will be building in additional time to focus on classroom management with teachers during our 2019 pre-service training,” she said.

In addition, new teachers participate in a one-year learning program — New Teacher Institute — where teachers learn how to manage a classroom, de-escalate conflict and other topics with other teachers in the corresponding grade level. They also receive a mentor to help new teachers with goals as well as dealing with conflicting in the classroom.

Next year, new teachers will be required to participate for the two years.

Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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