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Saying ‘no’

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Lucilla90, Feb 24, 2018.

  1. Lucilla90

    Lucilla90 Occasional commenter

    Just reading the Education News thread about teachers’ overtime. It just makes me wonder, what makes it so hard for teachers to say no to unreasonable demands. There seems to be a culture of fear.

    It also seems that people who are suffering from unreasonable demands are often unable to raise these concerns in the Ofsted staff questionnaire. So many times, we read how staff support The work of HTs, when friends, or former colleagues,in these settings, indicate that this is not the case.

    Reading this forum, plus having tried to make a stand against unreasonable demands myself, it seems teachers who do try to stand up end up getting sidelined in one way or another.

    It is almost better to put up and shut up....but this is so wrong! How can we act as one, as a profession to solve all this?
    BetterNow likes this.
  2. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    Oh that's easy. Just join together as a group and a representative of that group could then point out to the HT the number of unreasonable demands on staff. Perhaps this group could join together with other groups and form a national group devoted to ensuring that teachers get a good deal. You could call it a union.

    If enough teachers are interested in supporting this idea I can't see what could possibly go wrong.
  3. Bedlam3

    Bedlam3 Star commenter

    I think it's historical. Teachers have good holidays so I think in the past they were willing to give a bit and do a bit extra when required however, this has accumulated over the years and now we have ended up in this situation. I am finding myself at the moment where I am having to say no to something. It's not going down well at all and causing me a lot of distress but I have no option as my health is suffering now.
    Lucilla90 and BetterNow like this.
  4. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Established commenter

    Yes teachers are scared. There will be a blue eyed, bushy tailed NQT on the lowest pay scale who could come and take my job after my managers deem me to be inadequate for marking in the wrong colour or gluing the assessment criteria in wonky. Of course teachers are working themselves to death - they are competing against each other for fear of losing their jobs, instead of working together to end this madness. So sad.
  5. Lucilla90

    Lucilla90 Occasional commenter

    A similar situation to my recent one. You are probably right about the historical side. But, recently, we were being asked to ‘a bit extra’ and then more... on top of the twelve-hour days and eight hours weekend work ...and I was getting ill. Wish I could tell it all, it was unbelievable and my union said I had enough to go to tribunal, but ...

    Much as I agree with @JohnJCazorla that we should club together as a union... even the use of union support seems to mark out a teacher as a problem! And when you are made really ill by these situations, you don’t feel up to the bigger fight.
    BetterNow, JohnJCazorla and Bedlam3 like this.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    It's not just fear, though - it's that undermining sense that we 'should' do this.

    A colleague of mine was complaining about a change in policy which meant we were going to have to do a ridiculous amount of extra work. They were told 'if you are thinking like that, perhaps you should question your professionalism. We're all here to do the best for the children.'

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    It's not just fear, though - it's that undermining sense that we 'should' do this.

    A colleague of mine was complaining about a change in policy which meant we were going to have to do a ridiculous amount of extra work. They were told 'if you are thinking like that, perhaps you should question your professionalism. We're all here to do the best for the children.' That's how The Man gets you.
  8. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    I wrote about this culture of fear in a blog a while back:

    irjinao likes this.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

  10. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Maybe get this type of T shirt for all staff:

  11. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    Ah, yes. The old, "It's not me, it's you," recrimination,

    Once, our SMT introduced us to its ‘new, exciting idea’ of having weekly 'progress reviews' with students, in lesson time. They told us, "Just a quick five minutes, nothing too detailed, you should aim to target five or six students per lesson." Following this, we were shown the doubled-sided piece of A4 that was the 'feedback record' that we had to fill in for each student. Half of each lesson being devoted to student feedback. A well thought out idea! When most of started groaning, the condescending rejoinder was, "If you can't spare a student five minutes of your time, you're in the wrong job.”

    From the school managers' viewpoint, teachers' time is an infinite resource, so time costing is a meaningless concept to them, as increasing the workload has no negative consequences for them. Some SMTs seem to have the same attitude towards time management as the commandant of a labour camp, seeing increasing workload as a Darwinian 'selection process', in which those who buckle under the load, or complain, simply identify themselves for 'elimination'.
    Piranha, JohnJCazorla and install like this.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

  13. install

    install Star commenter

    There is a game of power politics that may go on in some places where:

    No = Blocker / sinkhole / negativity / trouble / reactive / refuser / rejection / loose canon..


    Yes = proactive / team player / open mind / positivity / action / proactive / achiever..

    But there are phrases that some employees have on hand as back up without saying 'no' . Such as: 'Let me get back to you..': 'Its difficult to say ..'; ' Possibly...'; 'Maybe..'; Let me check..'.

    Some employees even resort to Union language: eg 'I have been advised to have a dinner break'...And sometimes Another voice saying the 'no', maybe even on behalf of a large number of employees, often has more of an impact.

    It may not be right, but it does happen in many sectors. The art seems to be in how to agree to disagree and to still keep good relations.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2018
  14. drek

    drek Star commenter

  15. hs9981

    hs9981 Lead commenter

    Has it reached the point in UK education, where established staff need to take pillowcases, stuffed with bars of soap to NQT’s to make them say ‘no’.
  16. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    You've left it rather late now.

    When I retired from SEN in 2013 teaching Lfe Skills to KS5 I was lucky. We submitted paperwork to AQA and that was that. Did the school have a marking policy? I have no idea. I think not.

    If that had been presented - you know, purple and orange pens and sticking things in books - I would have put my foot down and had support from colleagues.

    Here is your policy. Teachers will mark as, when and how they think it most appropriate. When asked they will justify their rationale. If their rationale fails to convince AND standards of behaviour are declining and pupils are failing to make any progress then a marking regime may be imposed on that colleague and that colleague alone.

    I would then have reminded everyone that marking has a number of functions. How you mark arithmetic for KS1 bears little relation to how you mark a draft of a personal statement for a CV at KS5. Consequently a marking policy has to incorporate enormous flexibility and shouldn't differ greatly from what I wrote above.

    In my school we'd have done that. We weren't superhuman. We just had a tongue in our heads and would have spoken up if something daft was ever suggested. But I have worked in plenty of places. I have worked with sheep. Plenty. But some of you have left it too darned late and it's harder to fight the madness now. Things will swing back. They always do in education in England. I cherish the fond belief that the Scots and Irish have more sense and didn't go so far along this road.

    So you wait or you really do have to stand up. United. By which I don't mean a union. Nothing formal. It has to come from you to fight your own battles.
    JohnJCazorla and Compassman like this.
  17. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    In Japanese, where women traditionally use a different form of the language to men, women have no way of saying "No" to men politely, so they say things like "It's a little bit impossible."
    Surely we could come up with something similar?
  18. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    Sadly there are too many fearful of saying 'no' but for good reason. This is not helped by those who do say 'no' are picked off one by one.

    As I have said before in my (what turned out to be) last year of teaching. I did say 'no' then I was:
    • Threatened with misconduct for doing so
    • Lost my teaching room
    • Given all the bottom set low ability groups the following year
    • After I'd resigned and expressed my views in an email to the head, was asked to leave that day and not come back
    That kind of thing gives messages to others not to step out of line or they will be next. It's called bullying.

    As it turns out, it has suited me really well. But nearly three years on, I still hold a strong dislike (even hate) for those who feel it is OK to treat people (especially those who had given decades of service to the school) who are making a stand and saying 'no' like this.
    BetterNow, JohnJCazorla and mrsg1870 like this.
  19. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    From another thread. What happened when there was public naming and shaming going on.

    After the meeting, enough of us got together to complain, and it hasn’t been done since.

    It's better if you get together. You're all teachers? Have you powers of persuasion? Get your colleagues to stand up for what's right and makes sense. OK, I'm not that naive. Plenty won't. But 3 or 4 or 5 can make a big difference.
  20. Lucilla90

    Lucilla90 Occasional commenter

    I agree, but in small schools, that can be the total of all staff including various levels of bravery/experience.

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