When & How to Say “No” as an Educator.
Educators are known for taking on tasks, piling up on responsibilities, and plugging away at work. This year teacher’s willingness to “do whatever it takes” has been put to the ultimate test with new and impromptu changes to class configurations and teaching methods – from hybrid and virtual teaching to cohort and capsule classes.
But, it comes with the job right?
The job where the work is never done and you never really leave, because you’re either still thinking about it or still working on it from home.
The job which can be the most rewarding, exhausting, and overwhelming position all at once.
The job we love but need to make more sustainable.
The job where we want to say “no” more, but somehow don’t.
Can we even do that?
It’s not easy, but it’s necessary.
Saying “no” within a profession wherein we pride ourselves for going the extra mile and are recognized for doing whatever it takes to make a difference can leave us conflicted and ridden with guilt.
How can we be the best for our students if we aren’t doing EVERYTHING?
However, we can easily counter this question with:
How can we be the best for our students if we ARE doing EVERYTHING?
By being selective, when we can, we are doing what’s best for our students.
The trick to it, the art of it, is knowing when and how to say “no”.
The Art of Saying “No”
When to Say “No”
Asses Your Options
We all know that there are certain responsibilities not within our control – look to the ones that are – are they worth your while? Examine your choices in curriculum, committees, extracurriculars, etc.
Saying yes to one opportunity often equates to saying no to another – so be selective in what you choose. Know why your choice matters and choose what can make the biggest impact in both your and your students’ lives.
How to Say “No”
When you can envision what you and your students are GAINING by saying “no” you don’t feel that gnawing teacher guilt.
When you are choosing what to say “no” to, taking a step back and seeing the big picture gives you clarity.
Position the “no”
Saying ”no” doesn’t have to sound rude or defiant.
Positioning your “no” with the “why”, especially if that “why” is spending more time on meaningful tasks, allows the asker to understand your stance.
Even if your “no” comes from a place of needing some you-time, it doesn’t sound (or feel) wrong when you position it within the context of making strong and healthy choices that benefit you and your students.
The truth is that saying “no” can be one of the best skills to rely on in the world of teaching. You can be confident that you will be saying “yes” a lot, but seeing the opportunities to say “no” can give you back time, energy, and joy and help make a career in teaching sustainable and rewarding, especially this year when so much is being asked.
For other ways to build resilience, regain time, and reclaim the joy in teaching check out these resources: