Time management is an oxymoron. Time is beyond our control, and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have.
As teachers, we often find ourselves overwhelmed by the challenge of saying no. Maybe we’re asked to take on a new responsibility, and we think, If I wasn’t a passionate advocate for technology in teaching and learning, I wouldn’t get asked to lead up the work group focused on apps for education.
Or maybe we get overwhelmed because we’re always seeking answers to the problems that keep us awake at night. We read professional articles about how to support English language learners; we attend workshops about strategies for responding to student writing; we read a book about brain-based learning to get better at meeting the social-emotional needs of our students. All of these exercises in professional development mean we know even more about how to do our jobs well, so how could we say no to incorporating something that might improve students’ experience in school?
And yet, consider this quote by Maria Popova, “We tend to wear our ability to get by on little sleep as some sort of badge of honor that validates our work ethic. But what it really is is a profound failure of self-respect and of priorities.” Getting overwhelmed may be an inevitable part of teaching, but it does not have to be the de facto state of our lives.
Talking with colleagues recently, I realized that we need to reframe the way we think about saying no. Rarely have I heard a colleague say she turned down a professional opportunity because she needed to veg out. Instead, she said no because she wanted to clean out her basement, visit her aunt in the nursing home, or try a new restaurant.
What’s the bottom line? We need to reframe our thinking to understand that saying no to one thing is saying yes to another.
I tested the idea on some teacher friends, asking them to think about a time when saying no to one thing meant saying yes to something else. The exercise seemed to squash a lot of guilty feelings by reminding us about the value of a well-rounded life. Here’s what we came up with.
Family: Saying no to sorting book fair books after school is saying yes to watching my daughter’s soccer game.
Nutrition: Saying no to one more hour in the classroom is saying yes to preparing a healthy, home-cooked meal instead of having takeout (again).
People: Saying no to stopping in the hall to listen sympathetically (again) to a colleague complain about a high-maintenance student is saying yes to talking to a different colleague about her successful writing minilesson.
Fitness: Saying no to more or faster reps is saying yes to proper form, breathing, and pacing that allows me to finish strong.
Commuting: Saying no to the high-occupancy vehicle lane is saying yes to more time with my audiobook.
Work Bag: Saying no to taking home a stack of student work folders is saying yes to reading the latest recommendation on Nerdy Book Club.
Committees: Saying no to joining a new committee is saying yes to dedicated time to reading students’ drafts, giving them the kind of feedback that gets them excited to return to the writing.
It’s always good to remember that saying no is often the only way to say yes to what matters most in the long run.
This week we look at ways to help students explore the boundaries between facts and fiction. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
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Andrea Smith explains how she infuses informational texts into her morning meeting routines, with an emphasis on the “Fact of the Day:
What’s true and what’s perception when it comes to working with challenging students? Melanie Quinn relays a powerful practice for staff members to reframe language and perceptions while putting common labels for students in a whole new light:
Paul Fleischman shares insights on the long history of “fake news” and how teachers can help combat an onslaught of propaganda in Minds Wide Open:http://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2017/01/29/minds-wide-open-by-paul-fleischman/
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Christy Rush-Levine has her middle school students complete a fun and sophisticated reading activity using Muse magazine to sort through what might be fact or fiction. The piece includes a video excerpt from the group discussion:
Melanie Meehan helps elementary students move from narratives to realistic fiction by beginning with “facts” about their fictional characters:
Andrea Smith shares the final installment of her series on the value of free-range learning in helping students explore nonfiction:
In this week’s video, Katherine Sokolowski presents a minilesson on ferreting out facts while completing independent research projects:
In an encore video, Beth Lawson and Heather Rader meet to plan and share mentor texts for nonfiction writing in Beth’s fourth-grade classroom:
That’s all for this week!