How to say “No” to your teacher introduces students to a seven-step process for saying “No,” gives them some practice using prepared scripts based on common situations, and then assigns them the task of saying “No” to each other, and to me, at least once in the following week. (Detailed lesson plan, with scripts, here)
Seven Steps to Saying “No!”
The steps are surprisingly simple to articulate:
- Make sure it is safe to say “No.”
- Say “No” clearly.
- Reflect the feelings of the other person. (I can see you are angry, or surprised or …, but I can’t babysit for you tomorrow.)
- Keep saying “No.”
- Give your reasons if you want to.
- Don’t argue about your reasons. (“You may not agree with me, but I think my homework is important, so I won’t go out with you all tonight.”)
- Keep saying “No.”
Practice Saying “No!”
The scripts are fun, and relate to situations my students find themselves in, such as “Can you babysit for me?” “Can I borrow your car?” “You’ll have to work late tonight.” “Will you go out with me tomorrow?”
Adult literacy/ABE/GED students who come back to school, especially after being out for several years, make big changes in the patterns of their lives, and these changes ripple out into the lives of their families and friends. Kids may support the idea of their Mom going back to school, but still expect their clothes to be picked up, washed, folded and put away. Friends who are used to dropping in or going out on the spur of the moment don’t want to hear about homework that has to be done.
So a little lesson on saying “No” is a good idea. I used to think some of my students (and friends) (and I, myself) had trouble following through on things–until I began to see how much was expected of us. We didn’t need more work on following through on things we agreed to do–we needed to practice saying “No” in the first place.
In the classroom, the lesson makes it clear that I can take “No” for an answer, and that I would prefer students to say “No” up front. It makes my life easier.
The assignment for the lesson asks them to say “No” to me at least once in the following week. I make a big thing of it when someone says “No” to a request I make, and we have a lot of laughs, but it gets the point across: I’m human and sometimes I ask unreasonable things; sometimes what I want conflicts with their schedule or their desires; the sky does not fall if they say “no” to me; a compromise can be reached.