Ever start a new resolution and wonder why you can’t keep it going? I think I’ve finally figured it out! This time I am saying “No.”

Every school year I have a list of things I want to do better. Every New Year I have another resolution that I quickly forget about. The problem with these ideas is that they just become another pressure elongating my to-do list. I quickly lose motivation because I am putting stress on myself instead enjoying the changes I’m working towards! Why would anyone want to make a resolution to feel miserable, stressed, or guilty?

I have been a student of positive affirmations for a long time. I have seen them really work in my life, but I have always focused on being, doing, or having more. I woke up one morning thinking, NO is a positive word, a protective word, an empowering word. NO can prevent stress and exhaustion. NO can enforce healthy boundaries. NO to things I don’t need, can affirm what I really do need.

The idea is to lessen your burdens, not increase them!

If I want my body to be energetic and lose weight, I need to say NO to extra food or snacking that just makes me feel tired anyway.

If I can say NO spending money on those impulse buys, my bank account is fuller and I worry less about making more money.

When I say NO to my children’s constant barrage of demands for attention or wants, I can teach them that they don’t need everything they think they do. They can also learn some independence and do some things for themselves.

Saying NO to working late has helped me to recover my health after years of staying up late, losing sleep, and stressing over all the things I want to accomplish.

I can say NO to stressful exercise routines. Moving my body makes me feel good, but pushing myself too hard has consequences. I’ve noticed that I can lose just as much weight from consistently walking and biking, which I enjoy more than the gym.

I can say NO to over-scheduling myself. Half of the errands I have on my to-do list don’t need to be done right away. I’ve learned to group tasks by location so I can make fewer trips out.

In the Classroom

Teaching is the ultimate stress test! I often felt like I had no control over my work load and was just a slave to student, parent, or district demands. Here’s a few ways I eased the burden on myself and enjoyed teaching more.

Say NO to adding one more routine to my classroom that doesn’t provide enough value to justify the time. Try to implement routines that help you to reinforce the content or behaviors you’re already working on. If the new routine just feels like one more thing to do, there may be a simpler way to accomplish the same outcome. If there is a new routine you rally want to introduce, be sure to cut out something less essential. Click here to see one of my most essential instructional routines.

Say NO to starting from scratch every time a new set of technology, standards or curriculum is rolled out. The truth is that much of the content for any one grade level has been very similar for the last decade or more. Even if a few changes are made, many of your materials and lessons are still useful. Work with what you already know, and already have as often as it works.

Say NO to going through every lesson in the text book! Most large publishing companies are writing curriculum for multiple states and standards. to every lesson will apply to your state or classroom abilities.  Start with some simple pretests and plan your weekly lessons or units based on what your students actually need to know! You will save yourself days (maybe even weeks) of unnecessary lessons! Click this link to see the pretests I used to plan my math lessons.

Say NO to grading every paper! That’s right. Students need the opportunity to practice skills in a low-risk environment. If every paper counts, then the pressure is always on and their brains don’t function as openly or creatively. Correct papers as a whole group, with partners, or with an answer key where small groups can share and keep each other accountable. Give yourself and your students a break by putting some practice papers directly into their HOME folders. Click here to see how I use Student Portfolio Binders and Standards Based Grading to simplify the grading process.

Say NO to tracking one more data set that I never have time to analyze. Teachers spend so much time testing, recording, and analyzing data that doesn’t show progress, doesn’t inform our planning, and doesn’t involve or motivate our students! The link above about grading, explains my process for assessing and tracking the most essential info for Math and ELA.

This is the hardest for me… saying NO to responding to every student, parent, co-worker, or administrator request immediately. My three children have taught me this lesson well. I have always felt obligated to respond to people as soon as they ask for help. Many times I don’t have a response ready but will offer some kind of suggestion as a consolation; often it’s sub-par. A couple times this has come back to bite me; I have made promises I don’t remember or don’t want to keep, I have given the wrong information, or left the person feeling like I gave an easy answer instead of really listening to them. I don’t have to give an immediate answer. I can say NO. “I am not ready to offer a response but I can get back to you soon!”

If you’ve found any of these ideas helpful, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear what you’re doing to make life or teaching more enjoyable!






Thank you to Kaye M. for her comments regarding…

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