Etiquette Questions, Answered: Tricky Conversations
Q: I am a high school teacher who is expected to sponsor extra-curricular clubs and attend after-school functions—though this is not part of my job. This wouldn’t be so bad if it were a team effort. But many of my colleagues opt out of such responsibilities because they have kids at home. Since I do not, it’s assumed that I will donate my time. Frankly, I’m tired of being imposed upon. How can I nicely set some limits?
A: I understand your frustration, and I don’t think you should have to be the cheerleading coach, the prom chaperone, and/or the debate-team adviser if you don’t wish to. Whether you are being expected to shoulder this load because of your child-free status or simply because you’ve been agreeable about taking on such work in the past, you need to establish new boundaries. Schedule time to speak with your supervisor and say, “You know I love helping the kids in any way I can, but I need to reduce my extracurricular responsibilities going forward.” (There’s no need to state why.) If you’re still willing to participate in some functions, let your boss know. If not, say that you’re happy to contribute to the school community as best you can during the regular workday. Since these activities are not required according to the terms of your employment, he ought to let you off the hook.