I recently read a story about a man who worked at a successful and large company.

He had a work meeting coming up, and the boss told him it’d be on Sunday.

“I don’t work on Sunday, Sunday is for God,” he said.

The boss was annoyed but understanding, and he told the man he’d move the meeting to Saturday.

“I don’t work on Saturday, Saturday is for family,” the man responded.  The boss was angry now, and walked away.

Many reading may believe that the man was fired for not acquiescing to the boss.

But, the boss came back later and said, “Fine, we’ll move the meeting to Friday.”

While I admire this man’s dedication to his religion and family, this post is about neither.  The important idea here is the concept of non-negotiables.

As a teacher, I need to know what my students must learn, practice and experience on a regular basis.  These are my teaching non-negotiables.

For my freshmen class, this year’s non-negotiable is independent reading.  For my sophomore students, it’s one-on-one writing conferences.

These are the essential experiences that I feel will help each of these groups meet their academic needs.

The truth is that these should both be non-negotiables for each of my classes.  I’m working on designing my lessons and units so that is the case.

The man from the story above didn’t get fired, even though many might believe he did if they heard the story.  Most people fear standing up for what they should hold as non-negotiables because they worry others will react to a perceived lack of flexibility.

But the man who stood up for what he felt was non-negotiables was respected accommodated because of his integrity.

When internal distractions and external interruptions encroach on my teaching and my students’ learning, I need to remember my non-negotiables.

And I’ll keep adding to my list.



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