my journey into hybrid pedagogy

Goal 2 – Avoid Burnout #30GoalsEdu

That woman speaks eighteen languages, and can’t say No in any of them.

Alexander Woollcott

While Rome Burns (1934),’Our Mrs Parker’.

by Jazbeck on Flickr

Burnout? I know burnout. At one point in my life I worked three jobs at 350 km apart. I worked at a private language institute in one part of the country and held two teaching positions at the University in the opposite part of the country. Sleeping on the bus was the most quality rest I had in those days. But I learned my lesson about downsizing. This post is about a different kind of burnout.

Do what you love

According to William J. Reilly, the best way to avoid work is to do what you love.  I love being an EFL teacher. Teaching is not what burns out my energy. On the contrary, the creative process of lesson planning is the wind beneath my wings, the classroom interaction brightens me up no matter how crappy my day is, and finally, connecting with teachers on Twitter boosts my enthusiasm to go on. True, the Bologna reform, or at least the way my institution implemented it, has introduced an insane amount of paperwork into teaching, but I buckle up and get it over with.

Avoid doing other people’s work

I’m finally getting to my point. I work as a teaching assistant and as such I am at the bottom of a food chain at the academia. Saying ‘no’ from such a position is extremely difficult. I still haven’t learned how to go about it. My friends used to say about me that whenever I get confused, I say ‘yes’. Doing work for other people which usually comes up at the eleventh hour is what stresses me out and wears me down.

How to say ‘no’ in three steps

Elizabeth Scott stress management guide, recommends the following:

  • Instead of saying ‘no’ which might seem too straightforward, say ‘I’m sorry, I can’t do that now’
  • Avoid over scheduling by saying ‘Let me think about it and get back to you’
  • Negotiate by saying ‘I can’t do this, but I can …’

This is my long term goal and a way to avoid burnout. Will let you know how it goes. What about you? What are your strategies for saying ‘no’ in impossible situations?


Posted by on June 30, 2013 at 2:20 pm and tagged  | Comments & Trackbacks (4)

4 Responses to “Goal 2 – Avoid Burnout #30GoalsEdu”

  1.   Vicky Loras Says:

    Hi Anita!

    Thanks for sharing your story of burnout. I had it in 2003 and it was one of the darkest times ever.

    I completely agree with saying “no” and I like the ways you suggest saying it.

    Great post!

    •   Anita Jankovic Says:

      Thank you, Vicky, for your comment and kind words. It was the darkest time indeed. Thinking about it now, I can’t believe I endured it for three years.

  2.   Rachel Says:

    Hi there,

    Thanks very much for this post. I am in teaching too and I find it hard to say “No” as well, but I think the 3 methods you suggest might be useful for me. I will try them and let you know!

    Thanks again,


    •   Anita Jankovic Says:

      Thank you for reading and responding, Rachel. The steps really seem easy on paper (or on screen in this case) but I wonder if I will have it in me to go through with them. I’m looking forward to our future conversations about it.

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