Saturday, May 10, 2008

When Does My Off Switch Turn On or When To Say No

Cathy Nelson started me thinking with this question - When does your off switch turn on? She created it as a meme but this question means so much more to me than a simple answer-the-question-and-tag-your-friends blog. So no tagging, no meme. Just some thoughts.

This past week has been difficult. I have spread myself way too thin and it seems like everything is coming to a head now. Just a few things on my plate:

1. I am on the Multicultural Committee in school. I have created a wiki for members to share resources and valuable information about the very multicultural community we service. This week, we met once again to review what was added to the wiki. And once again, a discussion ensued about whether or not to print out the information for the staff. Yes, print out the wiki information. I find these conversations exhausting. Why put it all online if we are going to print it out? Why did they ask me to waste my time creating a wiki and monitoring a wiki if it will all be printed out? And why are we assuming the staff is so limited in technology skills that they can't click on a url and read wiki information? Why didn't I say no when I was first asked to create the wiki?

2. I am also on the Health Committee for the district. This week we presented our new, revised family life curriculum to the parents of fourth and fifth graders in district so they can decide if they want their children involved. Guess who created the fifth grade presentation and polished up the fourth grade one? Guess who found the videos and downloaded them for the SmartBoard presentation? Guess who presented the information to the parents at an evening meeting? And guess who fielded the questions from the parents about how we really will be discussing intercourse? You only get one guess. For this one, I did urge my principal to allow another teacher to present. She urged me to do it. Guess who won?

3. I wrote and received a grant, along with my school colleague, to create a video studio in our school. So each morning, the morning announcements are broadcast live throughout the school. Raise your hand if you've already guessed that I do the broadcasting each morning. Don't forget that I have a class to teach and, instead of working with my class, I am running the video studio. Are there people in the building who don't have classes first thing in the morning who could broadcast? Yes. Do they? No. Why? They know how to say no. (I actually think my wonderful, spectacular librarian is going to take this job over for me next week. I hope it all works out.)

4. I am teaching two classes for the Teacher's Center at the same time. Okay so only one week overlapped. I completed my beginning SmartBoard class on Wednesday. Monday I started my 21st Century Classroom class. For the SmartBoard class, since I told everyone they would be sharing the last day, only half of them showed up. I wish I could have stayed home, too. But I love working with teachers. So I went. I taught. I asked if they felt ready to use the board. They were nervous and shaky. So, at the end, I said, "If you need anything, any help, any me, email me. We can meet before or after school." I know. I shouldn't have said it but, in case you haven't figured it out yet, I can't say no.

5. My daughter is doing a play with a local theater production company. And, silly me, I volunteered, as I always do, to organize parent volunteers to work backstage during the three shows. I need about 10 parents per show. Right now, for Sunday's show, I have two (I am one of them). So now I have to beg people I don't know. And, amazingly, these people have no problems saying no. Oh, and did I mention that, during tech week, parent volunteers have to come at least twice to run through the show with the kids? 6:00 - 10:00 at night.

Now there were some good things that happened this week.

6. Dennis Swain came to school to give my co-teacher, Christine, some prizes that were supposed to be given out at the big DEN event on Tuesday. He didn't make it on time to the event but brought the prizes the next day. And, he took us out to lunch. While we were at lunch, he kept talking about all we were doing in the classroom, how exciting it all is, and we should blog on the DEN about it. Are you seeing where this is going?
7. I found out that I won 2nd place for the ISTE Sigtel Online Learning Award for my Harris Burdick Writing Project. Apparently, they have been trying to tell me for weeks. But I kept deleting the emails. The message line read, "Congratulations! You have won!" I receive about 10 of those a day. All spam. So...Finally, Yvonne from ISTE called me at school, during class, to inform me that we won and, by the way, she needs pictures and forms filled out by...well everything was due April 27th and it was already May 7th. So this lead to a frantic undertaking, while trying to teach, to get everything together. This included having to call Brian Crosby in Nevada (no easy feat as I didn't have his phone number. I did get to have a nice conversation with his secretary. Want to know how I got entered for the award anyway? I thought I was filling out a form to present a simple posterboard session about the project at NECC. Thought it would be fun. Thought I'd have the time. Thought...alright, I saw the invitation from ISTE and couldn't say no.

By Friday, I was tired, really tired. Near tears...okay past tears. Came home, went into my room, and cried. And slept. And vowed to myself that someday soon, I would learn to say no. Then I got up and went, exhausted, to my last night of bowling where I was talked into going to the big bowling dinner on Saturday night. Sigh. I have to end this blog now so I can go get ready for dinner. I really hope I learn how to say no soon.


mrsdurff said...

Parisi-repeat after me, "No, no, no." The word is actually shorter than the opposite word.

jenny said...

I sooooo relate to what you say here. I find myself in a similar position at my school but I do way less than you do. You do it because you are moving your school (and yourself) forward and you are making a difference. Like you, I reached breaking point this week and cried (incessantly) late one night when I felt completely overwhelmed. I read your tweets and am in constant amazement at your ability to fit so much in. I don't know the answer, because like you I find it very hard to say no. I'm in Australia but I'm watching and admiring from afar - hope this makes you feel a bit better!!
Jenny Luca.
(P.S Happy Mother's Day!!)

Paul Bogush said...

I find that when I get into this kind of mode that I have to put it into my head that I will say no before I even hear the proposal.
So it would go something like this:
Q--Lisa, do you want to...

Q--but it will be..

Q--Are you...

Q--But I thought...

I challenge you to say no to just one single thing this week--just one...just say yes to saying no ;)

Barb said...

I know how you feel. It all gets out of control so quickly. I was in a similar situation a few years ago and then got passed over for promotion that would have allowed me to focus on all those things without the added workload of a classroom. Not long after I was offered my current position which I love. We say yes because they play to our passions and our strengths. And they ask us because they know we can't sat no and because the busiest people manage to fit these things into their day. Stay strong.

Jenny said...

Your post made me feel so much better. I haven't spread myself quite that thin, but I (like others) ended up in tears this week. Somehow knowing that others did so was so reassuring.

By the way, I always assume that people who accomplish this much can't possibly have children. I'm amazed by you. Good luck.

Cathy Nelson said...

Egads I didn't mean to push you over the edge!! Thanks for taking the time to reflect on this. Joyce didn't really tag anyone either, though she did call it a meme. So I tagged you because I thought when we skyped the other day, we connected, and this made me think of you. Glad you were able to virtually vent. It sounds like it was very cleansing, though in all likelihood not the answer. Check your email soon. I want to commiserate but it's too much for a comment, and too personal for my blog. Welcome to my BMW club, you overachiever, you! (I'm just teasing and giving you a hard time, and I really mean well.)

loonyhiker said...

Don't end up like me and have it affect your health before you learn to say no. One year I lost all of my hair in the matter of weeks. One dr. told me I was allergic to it, others sent me for tests to see if I had cancer, lupus, etc. After spending over $2000, it was finally determined that the cause was stress. I think this was a warning sign that my health could get worse. Ever since then I try to exercise, eat right, take vitamins, and make sure I don't overextend myself. I keep a picture of myself w/o hair to remind myself before I take on a new task. Then I ask myself is it worth it to risk this happening again. If it is, then I know it is worth doing. If it isn't, then I have the power to say no.

Lisa Parisi said...

Mrs. Durff - N, N, still working on it.

Jenny, I honestly think I might have posted this blog just so I could hear that so many others go through the same thing. Thanks for sharing.

Paul, I have tried that. I even wrote about it for the health committee. I think part of me is afraid that if I say no, I won't be asked anymore and, therefore, won't be "in the loop" when decisions are made.

Barb, I have been passed over three times now. Am thinking of leaving. But I am not a risk taker and am afraid to put myself in a precarious fiscal situation. So I work, work, work, hoping the fourth time is the charm.

Jenny, unfortunately it is my child and husband who suffer. They wait while I work on the computer, talk on the phone, stay late at school. I really need to readjust my priorities but I do love what I do. And I rarely miss the concerts, performances, awards (although I will be on a plane to NECC during her tap recital this year).

Cathy, thanks for the invite. I gladly accept membership.

Loonyhiker, I am presently dealing with two hopefully minor but time consuming physical problems. Tests and doctors just eat into my time. You're right. I really must learn.

Andrea Hernandez said...

I've been having this discussion w/a lot of people lately. I am amazed by you and your ability to give. You are making a huge difference and impacting so many people. But you must put yourself and your family first. If you don't, you may find you have nothing left to give.
A friend of mine had a great line, "No is a complete sentence."
It is a hard one for me, too. Lately I feel exhausted. I am working on that complete sentence. No.
I'll let you know how it goes.
also, sorry if I added to your overly full plate with the need to help me and Lora schedule this week. I am very grateful to you for the opportunity to be part of this cool project.
And congrats on the ISTE award!

Lisa Parisi said...

Andrea, You did add to the plate but notice I didn't include that in the list. That is what I WANT to be doing. The rest is...well fun but I really wish my only job was the ed tech part. I am so glad you are part of the project, too. I am proud of what we are all accomplishing.