Why Don't Teachers Just Say 'No'?
Such a great question asked by my boyfriend this week!
He works in construction, his job is stressful, pressured and demanding (a lot like teaching!) but he will confidently say no to things that he knows aren't his job or would maybe overwhelm him if he were to take them on.
And so he asked me this question the other night because he can see that teachers are constantly being taken advantage of, putting more and more work onto their already HUGE plates!
"Why don't teachers just say no?"
Here's what I think...
Teachers go into teaching mainly because they are heart-centred, kind and generous people who want to make a difference to this world!
Those kind and generous teachers will go above and beyond to make sure that the children in their class get the best education and learning experiences imaginable.
Therefore, they work LONG hours trying to make that happen.
But at the same time, these talented teachers are being criticised and hounded from all angles! From SLT, from Ofsted, from HMI, from Parents, from Friends, from Family, from the Government, from the Media and the biggest one of all...
When you're constantly being criticised, you start to believe it because it keeps being said over and over again by different people. So then, you start to think it yourself... As a result, you lack self-esteem, you lack self-worth, you lack self-belief and you lack self-confidence because this has now become a sabotaging BELIEF.
This belief is why teachers can't just say "no".
From my own experience, when you're being criticised over and over again - told you're not good enough, told that you're inadequate, told that it needs to be better - then you work even harder and longer hours to be good enough, to be outstanding, to be the best teacher!
So when another task pings into your emails or you're told about it in a staff meeting, you feel like you have to do it because if you don't, you're not a good teacher.
You smile and say "Yeah that's fine, I'll get that done for you" but inside you feel like you're drowning! You're panicking thinking 'when the fuck am I going to get time to do that?!' You go back to your classroom and cry, or you get in your car and cry, or you turn off the zoom meeting and cry because it's all too overwhelming!
This is when work starts creeping into a teachers personal life because there are physically not enough working hours in the day to get everything done that is expected. You work long into your evening, into your weekends and into your holidays to play catch-up and keep on top of it all.
Then Covid strikes and the workload expectancy rockets even more so with lunch-time phone calls, repyling to parents emails within so many hours, delivering food parcels, planning and delivering online teaching as well as in school teaching.
I can't even begin to imagine what that must be like when you have your own children to home-school too!
Now on top of all that, Ofsted are going to inspect your online lessons - another unnecessary added stress to make teachers feel like they're not doing a good enough job!
I know this situation isn't going to be forever, with online learning and working from home. But I can't see the workload getting any better after Covid season.
This may be pessimistic thinking on my behalf but I reckon there will be people out there who are "higher up" who think, well they did "this" so I know they'll say yes to that, or they will say "just get on with it because it's got to be done" and totally take advantage of the good nature of our talented teachers!
This is why my Happy Teacher course focuses on building a teacher's self-worth, self-belief, self-confidence and self-esteem so that they can put boundaries in place and feel confident enough to say "no", to say that they need more time and/or support for these extra tasks that they are being bombarded with.
No-one is coming to save us in teaching, not unless they actually get a heart-centred teacher as our Education Secretary (wishful thinking!), so we have to save our selves right now!
We have to start putting our needs first, our health first and our emotional wellbeing first in order for us to show up and be there for our pupils.
Because if you burn out and have to go off sick, you will quickly be replaced by your school. But your family and friends will never be able replace YOU!