Have you ever been in a situation where emotions were running high, and it seemed like there was no way to find common ground? Maybe it was an argument with a friend, and things felt tense and stressful. Perhaps it was a disagreement with a colleague, and you couldn’t seem to get on the same page. Whatever the situation may have been, conflicts and disagreements are a part of life, but how we approach them can make all the difference.
This week at Avinya, students took a ride on some emotional rollercoasters and it led to some stressful situations for both students and educators alike. Similar to teenagers, young adults are navigating a range of emotions, from excitement to anxiety, and everything in between. With all these emotions swirling around, it’s easy for misunderstandings and conflicts to arise. However, there are steps that we can take to resolve conflicts in a peaceful way, to help to prevent hurt feelings and damaged relationships. Our blog today is dedicated to discussing some tips we have held close to try and traverse the complicated maze that is young adult feelings this week.
One tip that can be helpful is active listening. Active listening means providing the other person a chance to speak and really taking the time to understand their point of view instead of simply just “hearing” it. It can be tempting to interrupt or speak over the other person, but taking the time to listen can help to diffuse the situation. For example, there have been instances where students were upset because they felt certain classmates were not pulling their weight in a group project. We have mediated more than once but we’re trying to get the students to take the time to listen to the others’ concerns and perspectives to help understand where they’re coming from.
I personally feel using “I” statements instead of “you” statements is a great way to start off resolving conflicts and making opinions heard. Expressing your own feelings and needs without blaming or attacking the other person is something our students need some practice on. Instead of saying “you never listen to me!” we’re practising “I feel frustrated when I don’t feel heard.”
Focusing on interests rather than positions can also be helpful. It’s like looking at the bigger picture and seeing what’s really important. Some of our students tend to get caught in the minor details and may have lost sight of the goal they’re here to achieve. Nevertheless, a few discussions during homeroom time and with homeroom teachers have set them on the path to look beyond their present and to make decisions by taking into consideration their promising futures.
Collaboration is one of the many 21st century skills we’ve tried to incorporate to the learning journey at every turn and holds true in the face of conflict as well. Working together to come up with solutions that work for all parties is a major skill our students will need to master when they step into their respective vocational roles in just a few months. In this regard I must make note of our junior floaties, who have been at the forefront of coordinating more than one student-led event. Their skills in organising amid avoiding or managing major conflicts has been made an example to other students as well.
Finally, taking a break can be necessary when emotions are running high. I believe this has been one of the hardest principles for many of our hotheads to follow. However, stepping back and giving all of ourselves time to calm down before continuing the conversation will allow for thinking room and new perspectives that might not have occurred to us before. It is helpful to take a break, cool off, and come back to the conversation later when all parties are feeling more calm and rational.
All in all, it has been an eventful week (as always) at Avinya. Up until now I believe we haven’t really felt the full brunt of such a charged atmosphere and it has been a learning curve to approach all of it while keeping true to our own vision and principles.
In other much less sombre news, after the “My Passion” project where the students focused on creating awareness for issues in their community, they’re taking on a much more fun project on one of their favourite topics: food! Fun with food will focus on nutrition and fusion food recipes and students are all geared up to produce their own creations.
We have had some wonderful guest speakers this week as well. Mr. Mahesh Senaratne conducted an informative session about laws and regulations and led a practical case study which our students found themselves engrossed in, debating all about how they would react in a certain scenario. Mrs. Jayani Mendis from Amrak addressed all our students on Wednesday as well, especially those who were interested in the healthcare vocation. She encouraged our students so much, I found them working on their studies during after-school hours that day itself! Many thanks from all of us at Avinya for two such engaging sessions!
We will return next week, with more adventures at Avinya!