Thursday, October 6, 2016

Art Teacherin' 101: Episode 21

In last week's 101, we chatted about saying NO to requests for your time, your talents and your art supplies. I received so much feedback from y'all in the comments and in emails that I realized I'd touched a nerve. We all feel so much pressure to be agreeable and generous, as it's our nature. However, it's not fair when our kindness is taken advantage of. Many of you asked: what do I do when the request is coming from a superior? How do I say no when I feel pressured? I'm a new teacher, should I really say no?

These conversations took me back to my early teaching years. I don't know if it was the fact that I was new, young and/or relatively agreeable (I'm a recovering passive-agressive) but when requests came in for my time, talents and supplies, it was often under the guise of "do this cuz I said so." What I didn't realize was that I was dealing with bullies. I'll give you an example: when I first started teaching in my school district, I was told I "had" to do a project with my students simply because the other art teachers in my district were doing it. I didn't agree with the project, didn't think it was a wise use of my time or my students' art education, so I said no. Unfortunately, bullies don't like to be told no. Rumors spread that I was uncooperative and that landed me in the hot seat with my (now former) principal. From there, I was bullied by my administration to acquiesce. And I caved. What was the result? Well, for a long time, my administration and art ed colleagues thought I would do what I was "told" to do. And I did for entirely too long. Finally, one day, I decided to remove those bullies from their pedestal. I started listening to myself, the needs of my students and my time. And I started saying no.

It's not been easy. Since then, I've battled unpleasant comments, eye rolling at meetings and one very nasty email (that my current administration handled beautifully). And you know what? It doesn't bother me. When I took away the power from the bullies, it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I could breathe. And I could also focus on what I knew to be important to me and my students. 

It's interesting how we address bullies so much with our students but not as adults. Bullies never grow up. As long as folks give them power, you'll find them trolling online, in your workplace and, shoot, at the grocery store! Kick that pedestal out from underneath them. Reflect, listen to your gut, do what you know to be right and follow that path. From there, you can't go wrong. Love y'all!

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18 comments:

  1. Susan B.10/06/2016

    Hi Cassie - Here is an EXCELLENT podcast about, Saying NO to say YES! Whenever I need the confidence to say no to something I listen to this! It's fantastic - give it a listen! <3 Susan

    http://www.elisejoy.com/podcast/shownotes17

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing!! Thank you, I will :)

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  2. I had a department head in my art department at my hs for 8 years that was a bully. I stood up to them and they tried to make my life "icky" and the only in my department. It was so hard to deal with the person. I told so many administrators. But finally in year o 8 admin listened and help "retire" the person. Our new department is sooooo awesome. I believe the best in the county. Is was not fun to live with or through but now I am seeing a growing art department

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear that.. but glad you are now in a good place. I think as new teachers we often have to battle the bully who thinks they "know best".

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  3. WOW!! Great way of seing things! I'm sending this video to all my colleagues!
    Thank you for taking the time to empower and share!
    Love ya Cassie!

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    1. Thank you for sharing the video, i hope it helps battle those bullies and gives y'all strength to just say NO. ;)

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  4. In our district, the art teachers used to be given (x) amount of money for "general" teacher materials. After 2006 this funding was stopped. General Ed teachers became used to going to the art teacher for these community supplies and just have not been able to loose that association. I feel like grandma's fridge....I need to be magically full all the time. "But I only need 30 sheets, why should I have to buy a whole pack" etc... part of it is having to educate people. I go straight to nuclear because I have not been able to educate these smart and well-meaning peers. Saying things with numbers does not help. I have to provide 11,000 "servings" of art with only $500. That leaves me with only 6 cents per student per week. These are too abstract for people who look at your closet with "eyes for 30 students". I think I'm going to post my annual order and then pull it down and say, "Sorry, that's not part of what I ordered this year". This becomes hard to defend when they know I've had almost $20,000 of donations in the last 3 years. Difficult part of the job to always say NO and have people coming to the door with supply emergencies during class. I just become exasperated!

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    1. I would consider letting everyone know via a principal-approved email. Can you talk to your administration and let them know that not only is your instructional time being used by these supply demands but so is your supply! An email letting folks know that you only receive 6 pennies per kiddo might make a difference. I am so sorry, buddy!! You are saying NO for the art education of your students :)

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  5. Hi Everyone! A brilliant mentor of mine once told me to say this: "Thank you for thinking of me, but I'm not going to be able to help you with that". It is polite, but to the point and has worked wonders!

    Another nugget of brilliance from her was to keep all the yucky markers, pens, etc in a bin. When a classroom teacher asks to borrow them, give them the bad ones. They rarely ask twice! If they need to borrow something that I need back (scissors), I require a shoe. They don't forget to give it back!

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    1. LOVE IT! And stealing. Thank you for sharing!!

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  6. Oh, goodness, Cassie. You are going to make me cry. Thanks for posting this. I have really been trying to say "no" more, for reasons similar to what you listed. But I also am trying to be more mindful and intentional in a lot of aspects of my life. I tend to use "busy-ness" as an excuse to avoid examining my decisions. When we say "no," we have more opportunities to reflect on what is working and what is valuable.

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    1. Agreed! Saying NO gives you more time for YOU...even if that means just spending time meeting a friend for coffee (my personal favorite use of my NO time ;) ). We are not alone. When you imagine saying NO to someone, just think of us, your art teacherin' support system~and that might help :) xo!

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  7. Unfortunately, elementary teachers do tend to be the sacrificial sheep - we are often the most obedient of the 3 school levels.
    When I was student teacher at the high school level, I noticed that art teachers didn't ever have to worry about losing their room, their budget was set in stone by COMAR and the high school staff were just a different type of animal - more assertive and had a team to rely on for support.
    In elementary, you are often the only art teacher period! Your budget is subject to the whims of your principal, you are guilted by 'doing it for the kids', and if the school population overflows, someone's gotta give up a room...now let's see....who will be chosen?
    As an elementary art teacher, you often have to think through the pros/cons of saying no - but over the years, I have found some lovely ways of doing it. Very fortunately for me, I have had 3 wonderful principals in the last few years...but it wasn't always that way.

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  8. Unfortunately, elementary teachers do tend to be the sacrificial sheep - we are often the most obedient of the 3 school levels.
    When I was student teacher at the high school level, I noticed that art teachers didn't ever have to worry about losing their room, their budget was set in stone by COMAR and the high school staff were just a different type of animal - more assertive and had a team to rely on for support.
    In elementary, you are often the only art teacher period! Your budget is subject to the whims of your principal, you are guilted by 'doing it for the kids', and if the school population overflows, someone's gotta give up a room...now let's see....who will be chosen?
    As an elementary art teacher, you often have to think through the pros/cons of saying no - but over the years, I have found some lovely ways of doing it. Very fortunately for me, I have had 3 wonderful principals in the last few years...but it wasn't always that way.

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    1. A great principal makes a big difference! I have a great one now who is so supportive that I feel very comfortable approaching her with any issues. But you are right, they can make or break an art teacherin' situation. Glad you are in a great place with great support!

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  9. Anonymous10/08/2016

    I was told when I interviewed for my current job that I would have a budget for the year, 2 semesters of 180 or so students every day, of less than $1000.00. I mentioned that one of my cooperating teachers, when I was in school, once had a year's budget of $50.00 for high school and middle school. They assured me that was nothing like what I would have. Come to find out my budget is around $60 for the year and if I want more funding I have to run fund raisers on top of everything else. I have teachers wanting supplies all the time. Being new I don't want to alienate the other teachers but it is hard to be the crafty store for the school.

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    1. UGH. I was hoodwinked when going to a new district about my pay grade. It's so frustrating when we are fibbed to! I'm so sorry that has happened. $60 for the year is just plain INSANE. I would definitely let other teachers know and definitely not share supplies. You don't have any to spare!

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  10. Just a thought...if there is a general 'Supply Room', this should be the place where school-wide supplies are found. If it ain't in there, it's not the Art Teacher's problem to fix!

    Also, I wonder how often the Art Room is seen as the 'General Store' because other people have not put time/effort into procuring their own supplies? Is it the same folks who continually come looking for supplies? By saying "No" to them you are actually helping them to become more responsible, even though they don't like it.

    And for those who say, "Why should I buy a whole pack when I only need 30"...you can remind them that next year they will need those same supplies, & gosh! they will already have them!

    Blessings,
    Kim Schellenberg

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Thank you so much for your comments. I appreciate each and every one :)