The Rule of Yes

Giving Your Students the Confidence and Safety to Speak

The "Rule of Yes"

For me, the most helpful tip here comes from an improv class.  When doing stand-up comedy in front of a live audience, there is no time for second-guessing — and when two comedians are doing an improv routine, neither one knows what the other might say or do.  Instead, they must trust each other's instincts and see where it goes.

In improv, the rule is to always say "Yes, and..." regardless of how insane, unbelievable, or unwelcome the partner's ideas may be.

For comedy, insanity is generally encouraged — it's the heart of humor.  But in professional environments such as the classroom, there's a tendency to avoid anything "unusual" — hence, we tend to discourage or outright dismiss ideas that don't match our own.  But as Fast Company explains, improv techniques can make you a better boss — and many of these same tips apply to being an effective teacher.  In the classroom, the "Rule of Yes" means is that you:

Be Careful When Agreeing With Students

When you say "yes" to one student, make sure you aren't saying "no" to another.  Not all students agree on everything — some will, in fact, contradict each other.  To build social presence in a classroom, make sure you don't crush a young writer's soul.

Outside Resources for Improv and "Yes"