Collaborative Action-Research as Training Strategy for Conflict Mediation among Children

Catarina Sobral
PhD student, Teacher Education: Institute of Education, University of Lisbon, Portugal

Abstract: Conflict situations are a daily issue in the environment of Kindergarten. This paper reports on a work in progress about an action-research project in a collaborative setting in which the author worked with a group of kindergarten teachers (from day care to preschool) - at a social care institution in the center of Lisbon – in order to investigate the occurrence of conflict situations among children. The practitioners used observations, group discussions and reflections to share experiences and improve practices. Several data was collected, from focus group interviews, taped and summary sessions, registrations of observations, reflections, and their analysis, summaries of the readings, finalizing with a synthesis of the sessions as well as follow up interviews, amongst others things. For this presentation only analyzed data was used from the follow up interviews with the kindergarten teachers and from that data the following analysis system was created: organization and process of teacher education; interdependency between teacher education and other factors of professional development; changes in kindergarten teachers regarding both different areas and levels; changes in the institution; difficulties and constraints. The teacher education process contributed to a greater involvement between kindergarten teachers in both ways from different valances (day care and preschool) and within valances. Some kindergarten teachers have a different way of perceiving, reflecting and acting towards conflict situations, others were able to transfer knowledge from their professional to their personal sphere and others mentioned a self transformation regarding their own conflicts and how they deal with them. The major problem was, as always, the time factor and the major achievement, including all the processes, was the creation of pedagogical teams, providing kindergarten teachers a greater opportunity to share and reflect upon their daily practices.

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