3 Times to Say No, Ep. 96 Buzzing with Ms. B: The Coaching Podcast

Woman standing with an overwhelmed expression. She has one hand one her face and one holding books. The words “3 Times to Say No” is written on top.

This April on The Coaching Podcast we're talking all about productivity. I'm calling this series, “So much to do, so little time”. I’m sure everyone can relate to having too many things to do, and not enough time to do them.

Our lives don't have to be quite so hectic. It's just a matter of recognizing that we have limited time and need to be selective about what we try to squeeze into it.

On this first episode in the series, we’re talking about 3 times to say no. When I was a new teacher, I had trouble saying no. I'd said yes to everything. I was on every committee under the sun. It pulled my time in so many directions and didn't make me a better teacher for the most part.

My district used to provide coaches with professional developments to give during PD days. They started giving us a folder with materials and called it PD in a box. Often what they supplied wasn't relevant to my teachers' needs. I felt like a lot of the activities they gave us missed the mark. 

I’d take it upon myself to read through the materials and completely rebuild the PD into something that better supported my teachers. It took A LOT of time. I was redoing the entire PD and nobody even asked me to do it. I was reinventing everything, and it took up my time.

3 Times to Say No

It can be hard to say no to people when they ask for help. I’ve been guilty of this myself. But there are times when we need to say no.

Here are three times to say no and some tips for justifying it if you need to. 

1. It doesn’t fit into your schedule

When something doesn’t fit into your schedule, you have two choices.

a. Offer to do prep work at home

I would often offer to do a small project at home, rather than sacrifice the limited time I had on campus with teachers and kids. If you have the time available, this might be an option for you. 

Only do this if you have the ability and bandwidth for it. If it’s going to be too much for you, don’t offer to do it. The task will get done even if you don't do it.

b. Say no

Believe me, I know it can be hard to say no but sometimes you don’t have any extra time. When you have to say no because you can’t fit another thing on your calendar you can respectfully say something like this:

“I wish I could help with that. If I knew earlier I might have been able to fit it in, but this week is booked solid. I can share my calendar with you if you'd like to check it out.”

If your principal pushes back, you can offer to look at your calendar together and figure out what can be taken out to fit in the new thing This put the responsibility back on the principal and shows it's a little bit much for one person.

2. Steals Your Prep Time

It’s not selfish to be prepared. To be an effective coach, you need to do prep work. When I was a coach there were many days when there was zero white space on my schedule. That meant I had to get good at building prep time purposely. I booked little chunks of time throughout my week to prepare for PLC, PD, and other things.  

Unfortunately, prep work is invisible to many principals and teachers. They often don't realize that you have to do it, so it’s not on their radar. That’s why you need to include prep time on your calendar. If it's not on your calendar, it's not clear to anyone else what you're doing during the day.

3. You're giving up your precious personal time

This was the hardest for me. I always felt like it was my responsibility to help teachers and would sacrifice my personal time. When I did this, I ended up not showing up as my best self. I was worn out and frustrated.

Making time on your personal calendar is necessary. Having lunch, being able to walk instead of running from one room to the other, and yes even using the bathroom are all important. You're a human being and require maintenance to function at your best.

Bonus tip

If you’re a coach who needs to justify their time and why you're saying no, start documenting where your time goes. Keep a calendar of what you do every day. There are lots of different options available in both paper and digital formats. 

This is really effective for showing why you don't have time for anything extra. Documenting your time may also help you identify where your time is going and the tasks you’re doing that aren’t part of your agreed-upon coaching role.

There you have it, three times to say no. While it may be uncomfortable at first, it gets easier with practice. Give these tips a try and let me know how it goes. Happy Coaching!

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Image of Chrissy Beltran for the Confident Literacy Coach Course

Thank you for listening to Buzzing with Ms. B: the Coaching Podcast. Want more coaching ideas?

Check me out at buzzingwithmsb.com and on Instagram @buzzingwithmsb.

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Podcast produced by Fernie Ceniceros of Crowd & Town Creative
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