Teachers – Put Pockets (AKA Boundaries) Into Your Life As a Professional Educator

Where are your “edges” or your “boundaries?” Where do you draw the line? Do you? A boundary is “something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent” (Merriam-Webster). As a teacher, you need to define what your limits are with respect to email, parents, administrators, your family, colleagues, grading, and so on. Tips to assist you in defining and setting your boundaries include:

  1. Set boundaries with email. Decide to whom you will give your school address and only check your school email at school or during pre-determined times at home.  Email can easily be perceived as a way to be ‘connected’ 24/7/365.  You need to let people know what is reasonable for them to expect from you as far as access is concerned.  Then, be conscious of sticking with the boundaries that you have set.
  2. Set boundaries with parents. You need to be responsive to the parents of the students you teach. Delineate these boundaries with parents: (a) times you are available to meet; (b) advance notice required to schedule an appointment; (c) best ways to contact you (via email, phone, or note) and (d) what your off-limits times are (e.g., immediately before and after school and/or between classes). Most parents want to operate in a civil fashion and you just need to communicate what your boundaries are. Gain clarity in your own mind and then offer the information to them in a variety of ways.
  3. Set boundaries with your family. This might involve making sure they know not to call you at school or it might involve setting boundaries around the time you spend grading at home. It goes faster when you are not interrupted. Encourage them with that news.
  4. Set boundaries with grading. If you let it, grading can consume your life. Set boundaries for when you will do your grading. One good friend (an English teacher) designates every third weekend as her grading weekend for large projects and papers. Daily papers are dealt with…daily…but the big grading takes over one weekend-but not the other two. That’s a boundary.

If you don’t have any boundaries, then nothing is off limits. Be clear about where you need to draw the line. This is the first step in putting in all the other pockets you need to be an effective, energized educator.  And if you would like to receive a free weekly suggestion on putting in time and energy pockets,  

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