It’s 6:30 am and I am about to begin my fourth day of summer “break”. I use “break” loosely in that even though the last day of school was Friday the 14th, I haven’t actually been on break yet.
After spending most of last summer moving into and setting up my new classroom what got me through was that this summer was going to be 8 weeks instead of the 6 that I had been used to. Then in January it was decided that 2nd grade would begin the new Common Core national curriculum in the fall of 2013. Although I am very much looking forward to transitioning away from teaching to the test, this news means I'm basically waving goodbye to summer break. As part of a few curriculum committees, I’ve spent this week and (will be) next week working on the new curriculum. The last few weeks leading up to the meetings, I lamented often about my difficulty saying “no” to additional work. However, even as summer break approached and I started to regret agreeing to the work, I sucked it up and have been honoring my commitment this week. Just getting through the two weeks…
My colleagues and I were busy working on various projects when we were pulled together on Tuesday and told that we’d been hired to train teachers outside the district. Not only did that add work to our already overloaded list of tasks but it also added work days to my summer. Being surprised, we all smiled kind of and nodded as the blood drained from our faces. It would have been completely acceptable to say, “No, I’m sorry, I will not be able to do the training.” But instead, we all rolled our eyes at each other in agreement about the pile of work, bitched about it at lunch, and then returned to our projects. No one said “No”.
Yesterday afternoon, it was like déjà vu. A few weeks ago our district announced they were holding an optional Common Core training in August. My team and I signed up, looking forward to some guidance with the new curriculum. At yesterday’s meeting, we were once again pulled together, and it was casually mentioned that our committee would be presenting the August training. My jaw dropped to the floor. A few of my colleagues spoke up about their concern while the rest of us sat anxiety ridden. Without actually saying “no” these teachers brought up their fear that, even for us, the curriculum is so new and it’s not right to have teachers who are just getting their feet wet with it learn from those of us who are only slightly ahead of the game. The opinion was heard, but the assumption that we were training stood.
More bitching ensued at lunch. A few decided an emphatic “no” was going to be necessary while the rest of us waved our hands frantically and repeated “It’s ok, it’s ok, we’ll just do it.” Later in the afternoon we were brought back together and a few made it clear they were not comfortable with the training and therefore would not be able to do it. I was so very uncomfortable and never once agreed or disagreed, just staring at my to-do-list wishing the discussion would end.
After all was said and done, the concern was well received and adjustments were made to the training. However, I am not sure if I’m presenting or not because I never said I wouldn’t.
It’s funny because I don’t tend to be someone who does things I don’t want to do. I’m not a yes-man and usually don’t have any trouble speaking my mind and being kind of stubborn about my opinion. But when someone is counting on me (both professionally or personally) I find it so very difficult to say “No, I can’t (or won’t)”. It probably stems from not wanting to let anyone down, but I tell you what, it’s starting to wear on me a little bit. I REALLY want to be on summer break.