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The Guilt-Free Teacher: 4 “Tricks” For Saying NO

One of the most common frustrations I hear from fellow teachers is that they need more time.  It would be wonderful to add more hours to the day, but that is simply impossible… or is it?


There are many reasons as to why we don’t have extra time in our schedules, but it often comes down to the fact that we, as loving and caring teachers, do not know how to say NO!  The good news is that it’s OK to say NO, and in many cases it is the right thing to do! 

I’ve got FOUR tricks for saying “NO” which can add time to your schedule and peace of mind to your daily life.

The Importance of Saying No

By never saying NO we often lose our sense of balance, we end up resenting colleagues, and the priorities of other people take precedence over ours.  Many times we feel guilty or we want to make good impressions, so we say yes when asked to take on additional tasks, but eventually we end up frustrated and stressed out.

Next time you are asked to do something or to take on an additional responsibility that you truly are not passionate about, try one of these “tricks” to make it easier to say NO.

4 “Tricks” To Saying No

1. Have a 24-Hour “Reflection” Period

Your time is precious and priceless.  Make sure to give yourself 24 hours before accepting any invitations. There is no reason to answer immediately, and by waiting 24 hours you give your self time to really determine if this is something that is worth your time and effort.  Think about what you will get out of it, if it’s worth your precious time, and if it’s something you really want to do.  If you decide to say NO after the 24 hours, the person who proposed the invitation will understand you gave great thought to the idea and in turn they will respect your decision.  

Make sure each commitment is meaningful and worth your time

2. Harness the Power of Re-direction

Practice the “No but” strategy of re-direction.  Many teachers do not feel comfortable saying no because they feel they will be disappointing someone. The “No but” strategy offers you the chance to say no, but at the same time offers a solution. 

Next time you are asked to do something that you do not really want to do, reply with something like this:

1. “No but what I could do for you is…”

2. “No but maybe you could check out this resource to help you out…”

3. “No but have you asked Mr. _______, he seems like a perfect fit…”

By using this strategy you can offer a solution and in some cases let other teachers, that want to participate, help “carry the load” and responsibility that so often falls on only a few people.

[shareable cite=”Chuck Poole”]It’s OK to say NO, and in many cases it is the right thing to do! [/shareable]

3. Be Aware of the “Shoulds”

There are many things that we “could” do, but does that mean that we “should?”  Most of what we, as teachers, are asked to do is voluntary or based on a simple stipend that never really covers all the effort put into the work.  When deciding whether or not to say no, make sure you only do something if you enjoy it or it helps refine your skills.

If one of the following “shoulds” is the reason you are considering saying yes to something,  then you need to possibly consider either changing your focus or saying NO right away

1. I SHOULD do this because if I don’t do it, no one else will.

2. I SHOULD do this task even though I am swamped with other responsibilities.

3. I SHOULD do this task even though I am not passionate about it and it doesn’t really inspire me in any way.

Remember, if it feels like a chore, maybe it is time to reconsider whether you “should” say NO.

4. Only Say YES to What Matters Most

Everyone has a finite amount of time they can say yes in each season of life.  Don’t waste them! 

First, define what matters most in your life.  For most of us that would be our family and friends, however it can be just about anything you find to be important. Second, before you say yes to something make sure to ask a few questions:

1. Will saying yes to this take away time from my family and close friends?

2. Will saying yes to this affect other obligations I have to my students and my class?

3. Will saying yes to this take away from furthering my craft as a teacher?

If your answer to these questions is yes, than you might consider saying NO to the invitation.

Remember, you don’t have to feel guilty for saying NO, and  your decision does not need an explanation!

As teachers we all want to be “unforgettable” and we all want to impact our students to better themselves in the future.  If we don’t learn to say “NO” to things, and if we don’t guard our time wisely, we may just end up looking back and wishing that we did.

Question: Do you think it is important to learn to say “NO?” Why or why not?  Leave a comment by Clicking Here

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