Saying no at work without feeling guilty is hard. Moving past this guilt can be one way to start saying no. 5 guilt-based reasons for not saying no are
- Children won’t get the best education.
- Other teachers will have to pick up your slack.
- You haven’t set the best example.
- There will be a missed opportunity.
- You have not been the best you can be.
So let’s bust some guilt-myths and start saying no at work without feeling guilty.
Say no at work without feeling guilty that the children won’t get the best education.
Ok. So, if you said no to every request ever (like attending CPD, making connections with external providers or arranging school trips), and never tried anything new or contributed to the school community then yes it is possible that the children you teach are not receiving a great education. However I don’t think you do say no to everything do you?
What if, the week you feel under the weather and very busy you do say no? With the understanding that you said yes before, and you will say yes again. Just not this time. How would that go?
Let’s take it one step further. What if that extra time you gained from saying no was spent on your well-being so that your future lessons were even better? Could saying no this once actually lead to a better learning experience in general?
2. Say no at work without feeling guilty that other teachers will have to pick up your slack.
First of all, other teachers are only picking up the slack if you are leaving an important project undone, or avoiding some contractual responsibilities. You are not giving someone else more work to do if you politely turn down a request from management to run a project.
But you know what, you are part of a team, and the team is there for you no matter what. We have all stepped in when necessary, that’s what cover teaching is all about.
Times that I have picked up the slack and not minded – supervising a school disco when the Deputy Head had a family emergency, running a 150 child 4-night residential trip as I could see the career benefits for me and it sounded fun, arranging cover work for a team member after he lost a family member, (imagine countless examples of helping staff out in lots of little ways)……..
The only time I have really been bothered about picking up the slack was when I got landed with a hot-potato project that had genuinely been passed from school leader to school leader until it got dumped on me. Really I should have spoken up at the beginning but I was too worried about letting the team down.
(Don’t forget that sometimes people might want a chance at that job. When I picked up the slack and ran a large school trip I also picked up a great career development opportunity that eventually led to a promotion – find out more about giving your team a chance to shine here)
3. Know that you always set the best example.
Do you know what the best example is? The person who says they aren’t perfect, they can’t manage it all, all of the time, without any help. Because actually no one is perfect. So whether it’s teachers or students, allowing them to see that life can be tough and sometimes you need a bit of time off, or the chance to correct a mistake, or just a bit of agency over your own choices is actually setting a great example.
4. Say no at work without feeling guilty that there will be a missed opportunity.
Tangled up with the first guilt-bomb on the list, you have a quick and exciting mind and can easily see the opportunities that lie ahead if you can make this new project work. At first glance it can feel like your super-power of being able to make exciting learning connections is going to be your downfall, but let’s flip it and use your super-power for good.
You see exciting learning opportunities everywhere, it can be overwhelming knowing all the opportunities that you can bring to your students. You can think of something and spend a couple of hours playing around with the idea that evening, fire off some emails and have it rolling by the end of the week. And it’s not a one-off, you spot several unique opportunities every term. Making each of those opportunities work every term will be exhausting.
How about this? You see exciting learning opportunities everywhere, you can spot several unique opportunities every term. You know that there will be another great opportunity that you can spend more time on and make work incredibly well in a week or two’s time when you actually have time and focus to make it work. See what we did there?
5. Know that you are always doing your best in your given circumstances.
What would you say to a student who was up working until 9pm every evening because they knew they could do better? How about if they had worked from a 5 to a 7 in one academic year? What if they felt they had to perform at peak performance every single day? Would you advise that student to make any changes? I’m just going to leave this paragraph here and let you mull it over.