I am really glad we had this discussion, because the students did not seem like they were very clear on this topic. After a lengthy discussion, we decided that:
It is not tattling if...
- someone is getting hurt or about to get hurt.
- you have tried to solve the conflict yourself (avoiding or talking).
Now when someone begins to tell me something about another student, I ask two questions: Is someone getting hurt or about to get hurt? Have you tried to solve this conflict yourself? I really see them beginning to think about the situation. I don't want the students to be afraid to come to me with real problems, but part of growing independence is being able to solve some problems yourself.
Next, we will brainstorm and role play ways to solve conflicts independently, keeping in mind the win-win attitude.