5 Ways to Set Boundaries to Protect Your Peace
To be the best for your students, you need to be the best you. And that can’t happen without setting some boundaries for yourself. Find your balance and avoid burnout, stress, and that overwhelmed teacher vibe with some time management and self-care.
Start with these 5 key boundary-setting tips
1. Stick to a finite grading time.
It’s easy to lose hours to school work. But too much time spent grading can lead to burnout faster for you and less quality feedback for your students. Your mind gets tired and you can become agitated. Feedback is important but, if it’s not quality, there’s no point in getting it back quickly.
Block out a couple of hours to work. And do your work. However, when the time is up, wrap it up. Stick to that time frame. On those rare nights when you find yourself with less work to do, get ahead. Put together those lesson plans for next week, or the week after. Stay on track and stay consistent, but stay within a time limit.
2. Schedule student help hours.
Being there for your students doesn’t have to mean being there around the clock. Yes, you need to be mindful of the expectations of administrators when it comes to staying at school until a certain time, but you absolutely can determine a set schedule and encourage your students to come to you during those times for help or questions.
Post the times you are free during the day and available after school to provide support and guidance to your students. Let parents know that this is a good time for phone calls or emails with a letter home and/or post on your school’s website.
Scheduling specific times in advance will ease the mind of your students and parents while encouraging them to seek out your help.
3. Stick to the rules. No exceptions.
No matter how empathetic you are or how sad your student’s story may be, the truth is, when you start bending and breaking rules, everyone suffers. There is a fine line between understanding and enabling — and you need to stay well on the understanding side of that line.
Set clear and reasonable rules up front and simply follow them. If you say up front that you don’t accept late work, then don’t accept late work. It’s really as simple as that. If you don’t, you’ll constantly be trying to decipher the legitimate circumstances from the excuses — and, as a caring and devoted teacher, it will weigh heavily on you. As hard as it is for you, set the rules. Stick to it. Protect your boundaries.
4. Take a non-negotiable break for yourself.
It’s easy to get lost in all you have to do. Find time for yourself in your day and protect that like a mama bear guarding her cubs.
A break will help you tackle the rest of the day. Make your lunch adults-only. Choose one of your planning periods to be alone. Close your classroom door, go to the break room, or take a walk. Whatever is going to give you a break from the hectic nature of the day. You spend a lot of time with your students, so make sure you spend some time with yourself or with other adults too.
5. Make each day a fresh start.
Kids say the darndest things — and sometimes they are hurtful. You can’t take it personally.
Discipline and managing student behavior is a difficult part of being a teacher. Holding on to the negative behavior of your students drains you. It makes each day harder, and each incident harder to deal with. Don’t dismiss it, but don’t wallow in it either. Start each day fresh, holding onto your positive attitude like you hold onto that first cup of coffee.
Creating boundaries and taking care of you is an important part of being a teacher. Let go of the guilt that can come with drawing lines in the sand. Protect your peace and find the balance you need to make it a great year for everyone in your classroom.
Ashley is an award-winning copywriter and content expert with more than a decade of proven results for national and local clients. From brainstorming high-end conceptual content to styling sentences that engage and convert, she’s got a knack for shattering the status quo. When she’s not in full-on writing mode, she’s hanging out with her rascal of a puppy and discussing the plausibility of unicorns with her 8-year-old daughter.