Teaching Students to Co-Create

Good boundaries are essential for healthy relationships. Being empowered to say “no” is an effective boundary tool and deterrent to bad behavior. 

When working in groups, saying “yes” builds a bridge to co-creating. Saying “yes” means you’re open to what the other kids have to say. Some of our students have trouble saying yes and tossing ideas back and forth when collaborating with other kiddos.

Is your student a “Yes, And…?” or a “Yes, But…”?

Is your student a “Yes, And…”?

Relationships are built on “yes”. Yes means: “I agree! I’m in!”

Each “yes” becomes a layer that forms the house of friendship. “Yes” has magical properties that alchemizes two separate beings into a new entity.

Or is your student a “Yes, But…”?

If you dig deep, “Yes, But” is really just another way to say “no” with an explanation attached. It puts up walls to connecting and collaborating. This response can be reflexive and habitual for some of your students.

Good news! You can train your students to be “Yes, And” people rather than“Yes, But” people. Connecting using, “Yes, And” is a powerful way to improve all relationships and create more successful learning groups.

The foundation exercise of improv (“Yes, And…”) is the basic rule of improv and the recipe for co-creating. Saying yes to a scene partner and adding on (there’s where the “and” comes in) insures that each person is contributing to the growth of the scene or relationship.

“Yes, and” this is one more reason why improv is so good for your students! Here’s a game to get the “Yes, And…” party started!

Game: Yes, And…

To Play: Say to participants:

We need two players who will have a conversation. Each will make up one line at a time and the other will respond by saying, “Yes, and…” while adding on to what the other person said.

For example:

Player one: Let’s play cards.

Player two: Yes, and we can use the magic cards I got last week.

Player one: Yes, and we can cast spells with them.

Player two: Yes, and I’ll cast a spell to make it snow in summer.

Helpful Side Coaching Tips to say during the game:

  • Make sure you’re listening on purpose to be ready to add your line.
  • There’s no wrong line here! Add a line as quickly as you can to keep the story going.

Look out for these behaviors:

Participants who:

  • Take a long time to come up with something. (Offer assurance that anything they say will be ok)
  • Ask questions. Remind them to use statements in improv.
  • Don’t add on to the previous statement. Help them to add new information to keep the conversation moving forward.

Next Step:

You and your partner will demonstrate the difference between saying “Yes, And” and “Yes, But”. Start out with one player saying any statement and the second player will start with the words, “Yes, But…”. After that all the statements in the conversation start with “Yes, But”. Go for about two lines each or about a minute.

For example:

Player one: Let’s play cards.

Player two: Yes, but I don’t like card games.

Player one: Yes, but I need more practice to beat my older brother.

Player two: Yes, but I don’t really care what you need. I don’t want to play cards.

Process with the group:

  1. How did it feel to say, “Yes, But” rather than “Yes, And”
  2. How did it feel to say, “Yes, And” rather than “Yes, But”?
  3. How did it feel to watch “Yes, But” vs “Yes, And”?
  4. Which one was easier for you to do? Why do you think that’s true for you?

We play a lot of improv games in our signature program, SocialEyes Together. I want to make improv accessible to as many students as possible which is why I created the free eBook “3 Fun and Simple Games to Teach Relationship Skills to Socially Challenged Students.” Anyone can play these games with students!

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