Flowers, Mertens and Mulhall attributed small teams and adequate individual and team planning time for teachers with greater teaming practices such as curriculum coordination and student assignments.
The school administrator must also establish an open dialogue between the education teachers and the special education staff so that they can share their views. Building an environment where open communications can flourish is easier said than done. During mediation, Liddle (From conflict to consensus: The role of mediation at work) advises that neutrals should: encourage disputing parties to engage in mediation and consider the benefits of discussing their differences and seeking a mutually acceptable resolution; establish a safe and constructive environment in which parties can talk and listen to each other; encourage parties to describe with clarity and purpose how they view the situation and enable them to view it from the others point-of-view; and help the parties identify and discuss key issues and concerns and encourage parties to use non-violent and non- blaming language.
Once the school administrator has fostered frank discussion and understands the sources of conflict, the next task is to move towards constructive resolution. Contrary to commonly held perceptions, the neutral is not the decision maker. Instead, agreements and outcome are decided by the disputing parties. The school administrator will need to encourage education teachers and special education staff to identify and agree on a range of possible solutions which will resolve the underlying causes of the conflict (Liddle). If the parties cannot agree on possibilities, the administrator must take on the role of a skilled negotiator to help them make the tradeoffs required to reach consensus.
Still, the job is not quite done. The final step in the mediation process is for the mediator to help the parties identify ways that will help them achieve their desired results and agree on how to move forward (Liddle). Liddle states that, rather than taking giant steps, the neutral should help parties agree on smaller steps that are “doable.” This approach will help to avoid the risk of failure.
As we have seen in this discussion, the role of the neutral is far more involved than simply serving as an unbiased participant in resolving disputes. The job requires a multifaceted set of functions that include explaining the mediation process, facilitating open communication, analyzing and understanding the causes of conflict, conducting negotiations and developing realistic action plans. On top of this, the school administration should pay close attention to barriers to effective teaming that may be structural/environmental in nature.
Flowers, N., Mertens, S., & Mulhall, P. (2000, March). What makes interdisciplinary teams effective? Research on middle school renewal. Middle School Journal, 31(4): 53-56.
Jones, D.C. (199, Fall). The leaders role as mediator of conflict. Inquiry, Volume 3, Number 1, 1998, 54-57. http://www.vccaedu.org/inquiry/inquiry-fall98/i31jones.html
Liddle, D. From conflict to consensus: The role of mediation at work. http://www.worklifebalancecentre.org/article-conflict.pdf
The role of the mediator. University of California Irvine. http://www.mediate.uci.edu/role.shtml.