Have you seen the movie Yes Man? If you haven’t, here is a quick synopsis: Carl Allen (played by Jim Carrey) is a negative and lonely bank loan officer. He visits a self-help seminar and is convinced to say “Yes” to everything. He experiences several life-changing situations and his life changes positively — he even falls in love.
We all know saying “Yes” too much can be a bad thing, but for the past two years our school-aged children have only been told “No.”
I am a high school teacher and for the past two years we have told our students no to: prom, graduation, spirit week, winter formal, powderpuff, pep rallies, golf matches, football games, chorus concerts, band competitions, club meetings, classroom games, class breaks, and more. Many told them, “This is a great way to learn life isn’t fair.” These missed experiences however are monumental steps into adulthood.
Because of this, I have decided that this year I am going to be the YES teacher.
Using the word “no” creates a very negative energy for a classroom. For example: “Mrs. Ryan, can I go to the bathroom?” “No, you can go when we finish this slide.” When a child is told no, they often don’t even hear what follows. I am going to start my responses with “yes.” “Mrs. Ryan, can I go to the bathroom?” “Yes, as soon as I finish this slide.” Those statements are completely the same, yet give two completely different tones.
Can I check my phone ?
Can I go to the restroom?
Can I get a drink of water?
Can I have a snack?
Can I go see the guidance counselor?
Can I step out?
Those are all questions I am asked daily and sometimes saying “no” is easy, especially if I am in the middle of a lecture or lab. However, I have learned that saying “no” can potentially trigger a flight or fight response and create an unwanted hostile situation with a child. Being able to say “Yes, but wait five minutes please,” allows the child to hear “yes” and allows me to have control of the situation.
I will also be saying “yes” to all the goofy things from dressing up for spirit week to dancing at pep rallies. Like in the movie Yes Man, I hope saying “yes” creates a positive change for our students; they deserve whatever normalcy and fun we can provide!