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Classroom Management, Uncategorized   |   Jul 19, 2014

A bright idea for gently yet firmly saying NO

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

A bright idea for gently yet firmly saying NO

By Angela Watson


On my way home from the TpT conference last Saturday, I overheard a random conversation between a JetBlue flight attendant and a passenger. It’s now the topic of a blog post here, so I suppose that’s a lesson to all of us that even our most off-handed words can have a tremendous impact and reach.

We were taxiing away from the gate when a passenger asked her if he could get something from a bag he stowed overhead. I expected to hear her say, “No, sorry, we’re taxiing, you can’t get up now.” That’s what I would have told him.

Instead she said this: “The seatbelt sign is on so I can’t say yes.”

It took a moment for me to register the brilliance of that phrase: ___ so I can’t say yes. Instantly, the listener knew she was empathetic, wanted to give him what he asked for, and had a legitimate reason for not being able to acquiesce. She said no clearly and succinctly without ever saying no.

Imagine all the possible in-school uses for ___ so I can’t say yes and I can’t say yes because ___:

  • If you go get a drink right now, you’ll miss the instructions, so I can’t say yes.
  • It’s fun to stand up on the swings, but I can’t say yes because it’s not safe for you.
  • I wish I could make those photocopies for you, but I have a meeting after school, so I can’t say yes.
  • I’d love to have an impromptu conference, but I can’t say yes because I have another parent scheduled.

If you are person who struggles with telling other people no and creating boundaries around your time, these phrases can be a real life changer! Try them out and let me know how it goes.

bright-ideas-blog-hop-download-free-practical-classroom-solutionsFor more bright ideas from other bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic that interests you. What makes this link-up unique is that none of these posts have products or printables of any kind, just practical classroom solutions. The grade levels for each are listed in the post titles. Enjoy!

Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Angela created the first version of this site in 2003, when she was a classroom teacher herself. With 11 years of teaching experience and more than a decade of experience as an instructional coach, Angela oversees and contributes regularly to...
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  1. I’m terrible at saying no, so this post is perfect for me! This is such a positive suggestion and I’m definitely going to give this a whirl. Thanks!!

  2. I love it! Simple, effective, and just requires restructuring how we say it. Thanks for sharing. You are like me. You find teachable moments everywhere – even on an airplane 🙂

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