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Yes, and...

Several years ago I attended a workshop at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art that was facilitated by Trike Theater. The improvisational skills used in theater that were introduced have become very influential in my own teaching. “Yes, and…” consists of active listening and responding to the so-called, “gifts” that the person speaking provides. The “gifts” are words that are spoken that become springboards for a continuing chain of connecting responses. Here is a simple example-- Person A: “Good morning.” Person B: “Yes, and my fresh cup of coffee is adding to its goodness.” Person A: “Yes, and I am meeting a friend for coffee later today.” Person B: “Yes, and my best friend just shared that she accepted a new job and will be moving away.” …

Last week my art ed students participated in this activity. At 8:00 to get us focused, the class paired up with one partner starting off the “Yes, and...” conversation in a random way. I could hear creative and humorous interactions gaining momentum. For my second class, we began with a work of art as our topic, resulting in “Yes, and…” becoming an interpretive (and very interesting) narrative. Each time that I incorporate this strategy, I am struck with the power of these two words together. They promote dialog and expand imaginative thinking. I’m wondering how class discussions could take on a positive, attentive atmosphere if students started their contribution with, “Yes, and...” and connected to the previous comments. And as artists, I realized this strategy could boost our creative mind-mapping by spinning off of our own idea “gifts.”

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