How to Implement Conflict Resolution Circles in your Classroom

Conflicts are common among kids, especially at school and it can be a challenge for teachers to mediate them. It’s important that kids are able to develop skills to resolve conflicts with peers independently, not just so they feel good at school, but to build interpersonal skills for the future too. Using conflict resolution circles can help kids build these skills and empower them to solve problems independently and create a respectful and caring classroom culture.

This conflict resolution strategy involves students discussing their conflict using specific sentence frames that help guide the conversation. In my classroom, students would sit in a circle and anyone could bring up a conflict. It was extremely valuable to practice conflict resolution as a community because it also let us discuss ongoing issues in the class and come up with solutions together. Students knew that they were always going to have an opportunity to bring up problems and give their input on how to make our classroom community a safe and enjoyable space for everyone.

Click here to download this student facing chart and directions for conflict resolution discussions

3 Day Implementation Plan

Follow this simple 3-day plan to roll out a conflict resolution routine in your classroom. Feel free to  add on extra days of practice if needed.

Day 1: What are Conflicts? How Can We Solve Them?


The first day, start with a discussion about what conflicts are, why they happen, and how they make us feel. Make sure to clarify what a conflict is. You can say something like “Conflicts are normal we are all different and sometimes we are going to disagree. Sometimes we try to do the right thing but make a mistake that ends up hurting someone else. When that happens we have to try to make it right.” Try asking some of these questions to get the discussion flowing and make sure to record students’ thoughts and ideas.

  • Would you want to go to a school where people fight and argue?
  • Have you ever had an argument or been upset with someone and you could’t stop thinking about it?
  • How might conflicts that don’t ever get solved get in the way of learning?

Introduce The Conflict Resolution Strategy

Give students an explanation about what conflict resolution is. You can say something like “Conflict resolution is when you name a problem you are having with someone and talk to each other about how to fix it.”

Introduce the format of a conflict resolution circle and the way we will speak to each other when we work on conflicts. explain to students that they will use the sentences in the chart to help them while they discuss the conflicts together so both people are able to be heard and have their time to talk.

In my classroom, I would sometimes role play with another adult that was available or make a video beforehand of me and another colleague solving a conflict using the sentence frames. This can help illustrate for students what they will be doing.

Day 2: Discuss common conflicts and role play


Make a list of common conflicts that come up at school. Students will likely mention taking things without asking, teasing, excluding, not being careful, name-calling etc. Jot down all these types of conflicts.

Role Play

Use one of the examples that students shared and role play solving the conflict. Have the class give feedback on how you did. You can try this a few times and even stretch the role playing across a few extra days to give more practice. I’ve even tried writing out some different conflict resolution scenarios and providing them to students for practice. You can have a pair role play for the whole class and then put kids into partnerships to practice the their own so everyone can try it out. Make sure to debreif with students after each role pay to reinforce expectations.

Day 3: Solve a real conflict

Now it’s time to try solving a real conflict. It might be a good idea to choose a pair of student and be aware of the conflict at hand ahead of time. This way you will know how to support the discussion. As with the practice scenarios, be sure to debrief after the first real conflict resolution. Make sure to give lots of praise and acknowledge the courage it took for the students who shared to be the first ones.

It’s best to set aside some time every day for this practice. After lunch is aways a good time since there are usually plenty of issues to discuss. Before you know it, your students will be running their conflict resolution circles independently and teaching other kids how to solve conflicts.

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