I have found many teachers are always seeking ways to improve their community, classroom management, teaching strategies, and relationships with kids. I always strive to give valuable tips for classroom management, classroom community, and teaching strategies. Those invaluable skills teachers must have are the glue that hold everything else together.
One strategy I have found to be remarkably powerful is the use of the word “yes” in my classroom. Now I know some of you might be thinking I have gone crazy, but the truth is, you can say “yes” to just about anything and still get the results you want.
Think about the negative energy that goes into the word “no.” Now think of all positive energy that could be happening when you use the word “yes.”
Words can be powerful stuff.
Since using “yes” as often as I can, I could see the culture of my classroom change in a very positive way. Often, children ask me questions because I want them to feel like they can approach me. I am not the teacher that makes a child sit in their seat and raise their hand forever to wait on me. Obviously, I encourage them to ask their peers before me, but it never bothers me when they need something from me.
As long as my students are using their common sense, and not abusing their privilege of approaching me, I will always allow it in my classroom. It is completely teacher choice and style. In my classroom, it works. We have a very relaxed, but structured and comfortable atmosphere. There are times where I do not allow any student to get out of their seat, but most of the time, if a student needs to get up, he/she is allowed.
Below are some examples of when I use the word “yes” in my classroom.
- May I use the restroom? Yes. In 5,10,15 minutes.
- Will you help me with this activity? Yes. After you read the directions and ask a partner for help. (I rarely get asked again)
- Will you help me solve this problem? Yes. Read me the problem. Usually the student says “ohhhhh” and walks away to complete the problem.
- Will you help me read this word. Yes. As soon as you ask your partner first.
- May I have a band-aid? Yes. You know where they are. Help yourself to one.
- I am sick. May I go to the nurse. Yes. Go to the restroom and get a drink of water and let me know if you need help filling out your nurse card.
- May I talk to ______ about ______. Yes. Wait until we are finished with ________, and you may.
- May I take a walk? YES!!! I will see you in 5 minutes. Let me know if you need to talk.
- May I help you with _________. Yes. (Why not!? As long as it is not a student asking to help with every little thing.)
- Will you help me solve a problem with __________. Yes. (If a student has a relationship conflict in the class, and they ask me to help them, I will 100% make it a priority to help them work out a conflict.)
These are examples are common questions we may get on a routine basis in our classrooms. Some of our students just need to hear “yes” once in a while. I could have said “no” to many of these questions. I could have said, “What are you going to do to solve this problem?” But instead, I simply said “yes,” and followed it up a statement that still allows me to have control of the situation. I let them know that I am always available for help, while allowing them time to solve problems on their own. I have found that this simple strategy has established an increased level of respect with all my students.
Some of our kids might hear “no” all too often at home. To some kids, the word “no” may trigger a fight or flight response. No matter which strategy you use, getting kids to do what you need them to do rarely requires the word “no.” Obviously, there are times when we do have to say “no.” Some of the examples I used above might require saying “no.” But when you allow your students to hear the word “yes” more often, you will see the many benefits to this tactic.