California Educator

December 2013

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Tips to Share "It's hard to say no because you're here for the kids and community," says Ronda White. IS BEING A 'YES' MAN OR WOMAN HEALTHY? As demands increase, sometimes educators should just say no BY SHERRY POSNICK-GOODWIN Your principal requests that you join a new committee at your school. Your assistant principal asks if you would "mind" taking over yard duty for a few months. A colleague pleads with you to sponsor a new club you'd be "perfect" for. T H E L I S T O F E X T R A T H I N G S to do goes on and on. For an educator, it's practically a reflex to blurt out "yes" to all of these things — when you would prefer saying no to some of them. PHOTOGRAPHY BY SCOTT BUSCHMAN Educator 12 Dec 2013 v2.0 int.indd 17 Know&Tell More and more is being expected from school employees these days. As schools transition to the Common Core State Standards, there are more professional development workshops, committees to serve on and lessons to plan. All of these things can add hours to the work day. But sometimes, you have to draw the line, CTA members say. "For the last several years, we have been asked to do more and more in the way of paperwork," says Pye Cornejo, a teacher at Collett Elementary School and Alvord Educators Association member. "We have seen exploding class sizes and have bitten the bullet, accepting pay cut after pay cut. Through it all, we have leaned into the yoke, pulling ourselves, our colleagues and our students along, all the while wearing ourselves down even more. I see my colleagues walking around looking exhausted after only four weeks of school. I see them continually sick. So yes, there are indeed times when you have to say no." But it can be hard to say no It sounds easy to say no (2-year-olds say it all the time), but for an adult, it's tricky. Uttering the word "no" can be downright uncomfortable, even when you have good reasons. "You want to do all these things and be at all these events," says Ronda White, literacy specialist at Brentwood Oak Elementary School in East Palo Alto. "But you may have a family at home. Or you may commute 30 to 50 minutes a day, and staying later at school means terrible traffic. You might be one of the many teachers who have a second job or are working on a master's degree. It's hard to say no because you're here for the kids and community. You want to be part of what's going on." Educators feel obligated to say yes even when they have a lot on their "supersized" plates, says Jim Remington, a math and science teacher at Bowditch Middle School in Foster City. "Let's face it — saying no is difficult. It seems to imply negativity, and humans have a desire to be happy and positive. The word 'yes' is a happy word. Duval "Sam" Phillips When you say yes to someone they smile. Everyone is happy. Well, maybe not everyone. Perhaps you've said yes to someone — and you were not happy about it at all." Classified employees have an especially hard time saying no, says Duval "Sam" Phillips, maintenance worker and president of the Potter Valley ESP chapter. "We are part of the community here, and our children and sometimes grandchildren have gone to school here, so there's an obligation a lot of D ECEMBER 201 3 | JANUARY 2014 17 12/14/13 3:33 PM

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