The power of no

No. Just have a go at saying it. Nnnooo.

If you’re anything like I used to be, you don’t say this word very often. You’re the sort of person who people ask for help a lot, and you’re the sort of person who almost always says yes. That’s part of the reason that they ask you.

And, if you are this sort of person, chances are you’re also the sort of person who likes to do things properly. You put your all into everything. If you’re going to do something, you want to it as well as possible.

What this all means is that you quickly turn into someone who’s trying to do everything for everyone with every ounce of your energy. What that means is that you’re always busy, and you get a lot done. What that equates to is something that’s very impressive, a little intimidating, and ultimately unsustainable.

One of most useful lessons I’ve learnt since becoming a teacher is that I can’t do everything for everyone all at once. Being in a job in which that’s simply not possible has reminded me what a futile effort it is to be a people-pleaser all the time. In this somewhat ironic way, the most demanding job of my life has also been the most liberating.

Learning to prioritise what’s most important to me, and letting go of the rest, has so far been one of the biggest learning curves of my twenties. And that’s necessitated learning to say no once in a while. I totally recommend you give it a go.


What to do with a shock grade

Having just heard of yet another story of a student getting a drastically different grade out of an essay remark (she went from a B to an A+), I just wanted to remind you that you’re well within your rights to ask for a second opinion on any assessment work. By now you should have a pretty good idea of what constitutes a C, B, and A essay so if you get a shock grade without any clear indication of why, it’s a smart move to follow it up.

If you’ve checked your work againstĀ any assessment specifications or marking schedules you may have been given before submitting it, and still can’t find a reason for getting the mark you did, politely approach your marker to ask for a bit more feedback. Even if your grade doesn’t go up, you should get a much clearer idea of where you went wrong and some tips on what to do better next time. If you’ve approached the marker, and are still left with a mark that doesn’t make sense to you, take it to the head of the programme.