Practice Saying ‘Yes.’

While dropping off my son at school this morning, two moms from his class approached me about joining them for a 5K cross country/obstacle course race in June. I thought about it for 30 seconds and then said, “Yes!”

Never mind that I am struggling with knee pain on a daily basis right now.

Never mind that I am hardly in running shape.

Never mind that I’ve never been a fan of cross country running of any sort.

But I said “Yes!” and meant “yes” and now I am glad.

Saying “yes” means committing to changing my current state: Getting my knee back to normal, doing some cardio work (not necessarily running), giving myself the benefit of the doubt that I can make these changes.

So this particular “yes” was as much for me as it was for the others.

This got me thinking about how I use “yes” in my teaching. It seems that so often I am caught saying quite the opposite: “No, it’s not Awesome Gym Day today.” or “No, we won’t be playing soccer.” “No” can feel like my default response on several days.

Saying “yes” in my teaching requires more thought and intention. What sorts of parameters do I need to put in place to increase the chances that I’ll be able to say “yes” more often and with enthusiasm? What sorts of choices do I need to incorporate into my lessons? To what degree am I developing my students’ awareness of safe and wise movement choices so that saying “yes” to their suggestions and ideas becomes a reasonable proposition?

This makes me keenly aware that the capacity to say “yes” to student input and choice means letting go of the need to control every aspect of the lesson. It means cultivating and building a repertoire of trust between me and my students. It will mean failing and being disappointed. It will mean having to say “No” too.

As usual there are no absolutes or hard and fast rules. There’s context, history, experience and the moment. This morning’s moment yielded a confident affirmative. The kind of “yes” that will reproduce itself and chip away at my default “no.” Like most shifts in thinking and doing, this one calls for practice. Trying it out. Risking a little. Trying it again.

I know it’s in me. Just need to let it out a little more often. Yes.

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