A Note from Aline

Sorting it out

Sometimes a conflict arises that teachers and children have been unable to solve satisfactorily together.  So they come to my office to try to sort it out.  

For example (changed the names), Rachel and Charlie come up with their teacher who explains: “Instead of choosing a work, Charlie is interrupting Rachel’s work. Rachel has asked him to stop, but Charlie keeps nudging her or talking.”  I ask, “Is that the way it was, Charlie?” Charlie nods. “Is that right, Rachel?” “Yes.”

“Charlie, why do you keep interrupting Rachel, even when she has asked you to stop?” He is picking at the arm of the couch. Rachel is bouncing her leg, looking at the floor. “I know you two are friends, so what’s up?”  

It usually doesn’t happen quickly, but in this case, eventually, we learn that Rachel and Charlie agreed to read together in the book corner, but Rachel started a work instead. Charlie was hurt and so wouldn’t leave her alone. This took a while to understand, and then they agreed that when Rachel finished her work and while Charlie did a different work, they would sit together in the book corner.

So Charlie felt wronged so he bugged Rachel; Rachel felt bad that she had let down her friend, so she ignored him; they came to an impasse. When they listened, shared what was bothering them, they could hug and move on. 

The goal: Learning to get to a place where we can better understand each other so we can get to a mutually good outcome.  As we get older, conflicts get more complicated, more layered. The process, on the other hand, can still be simple: listen to each other, share the core of what is bothering each of us to understand how we can move on together.

To everyone -- peace and a good new year.

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