Just say NO! At least sometimes anyway…

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(This post is for new teachers and all teachers everywhere.)

Requests and demands come at teachers like those proverbial ants at a picnic. Will you join the PBIS Committee? Will you help plan the November Parent Night? Can you work the Parent Night? Can you prepare an activity for Celebrate Reading!? What will you be doing for Parent Math Night? Will you design a display for Hispanic Heritage Month? Could we make some of those Day of the Dead skulls? Do you have time to supervise skull painting? How about ACT tutoring? English tutoring? Math tutoring? Detention supervisor? Spanish Club Sponsor? Dance Club Sponsor? Yearbook Sponsor? So many activities… so little time.

New teachers can easily get sucked in because they want to make a good impression.

“I’ll be happy to take over as volleyball coach while Nicole is out on maternity leave… Of course I’ll supervise detention since Fred is sick… Yes, I can help run the PTO snack table during the soccer game… I’d love to take pictures of the baby geese on the roof for the school newspaper!… Sure, I can try to get some squirrel pictures to go with the geese.”

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Eduhonesty: If Day of the Dead skulls sound like fun, go for it. Just remember the frog in the pot. If you throw a frog into a pot of hot water, the frog will try to jump out. If you raise the water temperature gradually, though, that frog will allow itself to be slowly cooked. Don’t cook yourself.

You have the right to say NO. Organizing school events and participating in extracurricular activities has always been fun for me, but at a certain point these activities can begin to impinge on grading and planning time, shifting grading and planning into later evening hours, and next cutting into family and personal time.

I recommend new teachers take on some of these outside roles when offered. Subbing for the volleyball coach makes a good impression. Administration likes to see teachers who stay late to make the hallways brighter and more attractive. But you have the right to say no. Don’t act ashamed or regretful. The best approach is a quick, “Oh, I’d love to, but I can’t!” You don’t have to explain further.