Creating classroom conflict by Hilary Nunns

The following is an excerpt from Hilary's blog on her 'Can Do Courses' site. It fits very well with one of our potential #ukfechat topics, 'What is appropriate staff behaviour?'. For more of Hilary's fantastic blogs click here.


I’ve just found a document from a training session with college LSAs.   We were examining how our own behaviours can have a serious impact on the behaviour of others.  In particular, we discussed how some of our own actions can actually create conflict.  Sometimes we can bring our own brand of inappropriate behaviour to a situation, and then wonder why things become heated.

The activity, shared with me by a former colleague who had previously attended some behaviour training from Dave Vizard (, was contextualised for the classroom.

Summary points from the activity:

Activity:               List 3 ways in which you could create conflict

  • Bad body language
  • Verbal put downs
  • Consistently interrupting the other person
  • Humiliate students by comparing them
  • By ignoring or excluding students
  • Criticising students in front of peers
  • Belittle or embarrass a student
  • Taking inappropriate remarks from SEN learners personally and reacting angrily
  • Label the person (ie “you always do that”  “you never listen”)
  • Make personal remarks (ie “you are stupid” “you are lazy”)
  • Being negative, suggesting they won’t achieve
  • Teasing a student or making them look stupid in front of the group

I’ve used the word ‘student’ and ‘learner’ here, but this list applies everywhere, whether in the classroom, in business, or at home!

By Hilary Nunns