The Teacher Tip

Don Graves Monday: Saying Yes and Saying No

July 10, 2017

From Teaching Day By Day: 180 Stories to Help You Along The Way

by Donald H. Graves

I once sought out a counselor because my life was simply too busy. I was saying yes to everything. My list of things to do was long. I feared telephone calls because surely the person would be wondering whether I might do thusand- so. And I’d add it to my list out of guilt, thinking that if I could do just a little more I’d feel better about myself.

I bellowed to the counselor,“How do I say no to all these obligations? I’ve got to get better at saying no; that’s all there is to it.”

She waited for the breeze of my agitation to die down and then said, “You’re asking the wrong question. People don’t lose weight because they’ve said no to food; they lose weight because they’ve said yes to the right food. People don’t say no to infidelity; they say yes to a long-term relationship. People don’t say no to busyness; they say yes to the important things, and then it’s much easier to say no to the unimportant things.”

I held up my hand. “I get the point. I’ve got to reevaluate what is most important to me first personally and then professionally. It all begins with my deep, personal values.”

The counselor spent the next seven weeks helping me decide what I’d say yes to, beginning with my marriage and my family and then moving to my career.What were the things I wanted?

“Well, I want to write and help teachers and be in classrooms. That’s where I get my energy.”

“Okay, now you can decide what you’ll say no to.”

What are you and your students saying yes to in your curriculum? That will clarify what you can say no to.


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