From The Heart,Management & Organization

Dear Teacher, Just Say No Without Guilt

Here’s the thing: at some point in history, high demands were placed on teachers to be perfect beings who managed to have it all together and who couldn’t just say no.  The world of Pinterest and all things pretty rolled in and instantly many teachers started believing the LIE that we needed to have it all, and be all.  Truth is, on some days, my classroom and many of yours out there are a hot mess .  Guess what? My best days in the classroom are when my students are fully engaged in their learning and the room is flipped upside down because of it- that’s not Pinterest worthy, but it sure is acceptable in my book (who am I kidding?  I don’t like a messy room and I keep it mostly organized-but you know what I mean)

Several years ago, a movie called Yes Man with Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel (my inspiration for getting bangs that year) was out in theaters.  I, along with all of America went out and watched it and discovered the power of saying yes.  Saying yes is a beautiful thing.  Running towards the fire and doing things that normally frighten you to death is liberating.  There is much to be said about standing on the edge of life, undecided about your next move and trusting in your heart that saying yes and moving forward despite the unknown is the right thing to do.  I embrace that.  In fact, running towards my fears has been a great thing for me.  It allowed me to fight through life to get an education despite my perceived shortcomings.  It propelled me to launch into this blogging world and resource creating on Teachers Pay Teachers.   It is what has allowed me to believe that what I have to offer is not only good enough, but also excellent.  I don’t know about you, but learning to believe in yourself is powerful, because self-doubt is a force always at work in order to bring us down and deplete us of everything great inside of us. 
Saying yes should feel like this:

BUT, for teachers, saying yes can have the complete opposite effect.


Almost every classroom in America has at least one child that is hungry for love and attention.  I have vowed to be the teacher that gives them that love and attention.
Here’s the kicker:
In an effort to give our all to our students, our own children at home can’t be the ones going to school to get love and attention from their teacher because their teacher mom or dad is too busy creating lesson plans, correcting papers, and all the other 100,000 things we do.

Just say no and it can be just as liberating as saying yes.

Learning to say no is not a resolution for me.  I discovered the power of no in September and I have embraced it fully.  I was suffering from the Esther Syndrome.  Esther is my all time favorite book from the bible.  The story of Esther captivates my heart and I stand in awe of the love of God for his people.  When Mordecai sent message to Esther asking her to go before the king, Esther was unsure because it could mean death for her.  Mordecai then lets her know in Esther 4:13-14 that she should not think that choosing to do nothing will spare her life because God could find deliverance for His people through someone else.  Esther then chooses to go before the king and in the end, helps to save her people.
Esther was born for that time and season.  You and I were also created for this time and season and there are things that we must do and that we were destined to do, but not all issues presented before us are for us to solve.  Every time I was presented with an opportunity or something to accomplish, I always said yes-you know, because if I didn’t do it, surely God would find someone else and then I’d be left with the what-ifs and FOMO (fear of missing out).  The reality is that I don’t have to say yes to everything because not everything was meant for me to do.  God can find someone else to do it because it was meant for someone else to do in the first place.  At some point, we must understand that the education of the entire nation does not rest on our shoulders.  We are responsible for our students, but our own lives and families can not suffer at its expense, because then we’re building up the future of America in our classrooms while tearing down the future of America in our homes.

And there it is, my friends.  

I will not say yes if it comes at a price I’m not willing to pay.

We’ve all seen it.  The movies where the mom or dad work for corporate America and never have time for their children.  We are all sitting at home watching them and judging them.  “Oh, if he only paid more attention to his kids, they wouldn’t be that way.”  “Well, if she was available for her daughter, she wouldn’t need counseling.”  The judging goes on and on.  “How dare these parents choose money over their children?”

But then we see teachers saying no to activities outside of their work hours that are unpaid and we judge them also.  “Well, I guess that teacher wasn’t as dedicated to her students as she claimed.”  “This is what’s wrong with America’s education system-teachers that do not care about their students.”  It is a double standard.  For a long time, I thought that I had to be the teacher that did it all because if I didn’t, it meant I wasn’t dedicated enough.

I’m dedicated but…

I will not say yes if it comes at a price I’m not willing to pay.

And guess what?  You shouldn’t either.

When we are blessed, it is only proper to open up our hearts and our hands to bless others.  When I chose to be a teacher, I chose to open up my heart to other people’s children.  I chose to bless them with an education and I vowed to love them and care for them.  We all work more than our salaried hours and I bet we all love doing so because we are dedicated.  If those extra hours, however, sacrifice the well being of my own family and my mental health-I must say NO.

Why do we have to learn to just say no without guilt?  Because…

when we say no, we are inherently saying yes to other things.  

I say no so that I can say yes to (not in any specific order)….

Bedtime cuddles and bedtime stories with my children.

My entrepreneurial business that will help free my family of debt.

Laying on the couch with my husband to catch up on life, pray together or simply embrace.

Life group with the women from church.

Curriculum planning for the children’s ministry in church.

Prayer and devotional time with God.

Sermon preparation.

Home cooked meals for my family.

Leisure reading time.

Time spent with my extended family to watch my nieces and nephews grow.

Dinner with friends.

ASL classes so that I can better communicate with my Deaf daughter.

Watching a movie while cuddling with my daughters.

Keeping my home clean and organized.

Homework support for my oldest daughter.

Actually work out and be healthy.

Lay on the couch and do absolutely nothing while only listening to the sound of my own breathing.

…and many other things that I wouldn’t be able to do were I to say yes to everything else.

What are you saying no to so that you can say yes?

Happy Resting,

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  • Reply
    Lauren @ Teaching in Stripes
    January 3, 2017 at 2:28 am

    This is excellent, Kendwy. It's so hard to say no, but like you, I'm learning. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  • Reply
    January 3, 2017 at 2:44 am

    This was awesome!!!!
    Thanks, for saying both Yes and No.

  • Reply
    Carpenter Family Chronicle
    January 3, 2017 at 4:02 am

    FOMO. Love that acronym.

  • Reply
    Paula Beckerman
    January 3, 2017 at 5:05 am

    I love that you said, "I say no so that I can say yes to…". Awesome post!

  • Reply
    A Scoop of Learning
    January 3, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Love all of this❤❤❤

  • Reply
    Mrs. S
    January 3, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Awesome! I think some of us just needed permission to say NO! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Linda Nelson @ Primary Inspiration
    January 3, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    Beautifully said, Kendwy!
    Linda at Primary Inspiration

  • Reply
    Miranda Jackson
    January 4, 2017 at 3:06 am

    Love you and your heart, friend!

  • Reply
    Tamaralynn @tarheelstateteacher
    January 17, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    This is a lesson that takes so many teachers a while to learn—on the brink of burn out I refused to commit to things that I could not 100% throw my heart into. I also felt like I had to leave the school where I had taught for 9 years just to shirk off all of the responsibilities that I had been given, chosen, and brought upon myself with my over-achieving personality. I often wonder how much less stressed I would have been if I had been able to say NO earlier in my career! I love this post and will share with other teachers!

    • Reply
      Monica Ruffin
      January 22, 2017 at 3:27 pm

      Amen! This is my 19th year teaching. Instead of feeling like I grow every year – I feel more and more like a first year teacher every year. Feels like I am grabbing at straws trying to keep up with the demands placed on us!

  • Reply
    June 17, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    154877 218949I came to the exact conclusion as well some time ago. Great write-up and I will be sure to look back later for more news. 564213

  • Reply
    August 2, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    When we understand that saying yes means we would be standing on platitudes, but saying no means we re staying true to our priorities and convictions, no becomes a lot easier to say, and guilt goes out the window because we realize it s the right decision.

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