“Saying no so I can say yes… that is what I am going to start doing”, said, Gloria. She’s an elementary school teacher who enjoys her work and the kids she teaches but by the end of each day feels crispy around the edges and ill-tempered, exactly the opposite of how she feels at the start of each school day. In her words “Its like I am being nibbled to death by ducklings.”
While reflecting on the death by ducklings last week, she discovered that has difficult saying no. Gloria is always trying to be nice to other people, at the expense of herself. In the classroom this translates in to always stopping what she doing to attend to the hundreds of questions and stories not related to what is going on in the lesson that crop up from her kids. Gloria ends up not getting through some tasks like grading quizzes in as timely a manner is she would like, the kids are not learning how to discern what is appropriate to ask and when and she ends up feeling irritated and on the verge of resentment by the end of the day. On the other hand Gloria has “a very maternal-nurturing streak” and knows that in the classroom is where a number of her kids get time and attention they don’t get else where and wants to help the kids learn to cultivate good thinking and relationship skills. She does not want to end up being resentful, or for the kids to feel unwelcome.
Gloria weighed the competing needs described above and we brainstormed some ideas. In the end she decided that some increased boundaries around the hundreds of questions and stories that crop up from her kids. Setting a said a special time for stories and bringing back a traveling journal (where the kids write their stories and questions and she responds in writing) are two of the things she is going to start doing again. When the duckling come up to ask something she’ll help them weigh the importance and appropriate question/story by asking them, ‘Is this something we need to talk about now or can you spend 5 minutes with me at the start of recesses/lunch?’
Gloria is pretty darn certain than in a few weeks time she’ll be leading a happy line of ducklings across their learning lake with a happy quack.