As a teacher, it can be a struggle to make boundaries.
For instance, during my first year of teaching, I had such a hard time making boundaries with my work hours.
So much so that my families would call me at 10 p.m. with questions.
For those of you who have done this, I’m sure you can understand how exhausted I was by the end of the school year.
That’s why it is so important to set boundaries as a teacher.
But a question you might have is: Why do teachers struggle with making boundaries?
If this sounds like you, then you are in the right place.
Today we are going to cover:
- What are boundaries?
- Why are making boundaries important as a teacher?
- Why do teachers struggle with making boundaries?
So grab a cup of coffee and let’s get to it!
What are Boundaries?
According to PositivePsychology.com “Healthy boundaries can serve to establish one’s identity. Specifically, healthy boundaries can help people define their individuality and can help people indicate what they will and will not hold themselves responsible for.”
In other words, boundaries are like the walls surrounding the perimeter of a castle. They are the security that protects the inner castle, or in this case your overall health.
Recently I read a book called “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. And in the first chapter, Covey mentions the differences between a ‘Reactive’ person and a ‘Proactive’ person.
A ‘Reactive’ person is someone who reacts to the environment around them. For instance, if a student were to be disruptive, a ‘reactive’ teacher might become frustrated and take the disruption personally.
However, a ‘Proactive’ teacher would realize that this student might have environmental factors impacting their behavior.
This teacher might wait to talk to the student individually to see what is going on. Rather than becoming frustrated and internalizing the behavior.
This is where boundaries can help. When you realize and acknowledge what you can and cannot control, you are setting boundaries for what you take responsibility for.
Boundaries allow you to accept the things you can control and what you cannot control.
That’s why it is important to create boundaries as an educator and think about what you will and will not be able to control.
As an educator, this could be
- How late you are working
- How early you come to work
- What time you come to work
The important distinction between boundaries and decisions is that you set your boundaries ahead of time.
By deciding ahead of time how late you are going to work, for example, you are ensuring consistency to what time you are leaving every day.
If you would like to learn more about how to leave work on time, check out this post about “How to Leave Work On Time as a Teacher.”
Why is Making Boundaries Important?
I recently read an article from Edutopia.org that talks about the importance of boundaries for teachers.
In the article “The Necessity of Boundaries,” Eduptopia.org states “You need to set professional limits that will support long-term engagement with your students and with teaching. This is about protecting your energy and attention to maximize their effects.”
In other words, boundaries allow you to protect your energy so that you can be more effective long term. You can only give a certain amount of energy before your cup runs empty.
Hence the importance of boundaries and self-care.
To summarize, it’s important to set Boundaries as a Teacher because:
- It prevents burnout.
- Setting Boundaries allows you to reserve the energy to do this long term.
- It allows your inner peace.
- Boundaries allow you to show up for your students in a Present and Mindful way.
Now that we have discussed why making boundaries as a teacher is important, let’s discuss why teachers struggle with making boundaries.
Why Teachers Struggle With Making Boundaries
Overall there are several reasons why teachers struggle with making boundaries, including the following:
Teachers Feel Guilty
The number one reason why teachers struggle with making boundaries is that they feel guilty for doing so.
As an educator, it can be easy to feel passionate about your profession and helping others.
But sometimes that can get in the way of your ability to set boundaries.
Teachers may feel guilty for putting up boundaries on where their limits are. This is because they feel like they cannot make healthy boundaries and be a successful teacher.
However, I would like to challenge this belief with this scenario.
Teacher A stays up late all night grading papers, prepping for the next day, and communicating with families.
When she arrives at school the next day, she is exhausted and maybe even grouchy.
Teacher B leaves her work at the time she has designated for herself and spends the rest of the night being with her family and incorporating self-care.
When she arrives at school the next day she is eager to see her students and build connections with them.
Which teacher is going to make the most impact the next day?
Now I am not saying that you can’t be tired and a good teacher.
However, it’s hard to show up every day as your full and brightest self when you feel stressed and overwhelmed.
Boundaries help protect that inner light and passion for teaching so that you can show up as your authentic self every day.
Teachers May Think Boundaries are Selfish
Another reason why teachers struggle with making boundaries is that they think that boundaries make them selfish.
Society has often relied on the fact that teachers do what’s right for their students.
While this is true, that doesn’t mean that you always have to put the students first to be an amazing teacher.
For instance, in our above scenario, Teacher A stayed up late because she was doing it for her “Students.”
But when she showed up the next day, she was so exhausted from the night before that she wasn’t able to show up mindfully.
Teacher B, however, wasn’t “selfish” for leaving her work at school and not staying up late.
She decided to do what was best for her students and herself by calling it a day.
The reality is, you will hardly ever complete your to-do list as a teacher. No matter how organized or how hard you work.
That’s why it is so important to not only set boundaries but priorities as well on what you need to accomplish.
- The Secret to Getting Out of Teacher Burnout With Brittany Blackwell
- First Year Teaching: 7 Strategies to Avoid Teacher Burnout
- Unlock the Secrets on How to Find Joy as a First Year Teacher with Emily Person
Can’t Help Students and Have Boundaries
Many teachers struggle with making boundaries because they feel like they cannot have both.
Teachers can not make impactful relationships and be effective teachers while setting boundaries.
This is just completely inaccurate.
If anything by setting boundaries, you are even more effective and impactful because you are conscious of your limits as an educator.
You help more students by making boundaries because you can show up as the educator you always dreamed of.
Boundaries are Too Hard to Maintain
Another reason why teachers struggle with making boundaries is that they feel like it’s too hard to stick with your boundaries.
While making boundaries may be hard at first, it does get easier over time.
Essentially when you make new boundaries you are breaking old habits.
As you may know, breaking habits is no easy feat hence why it may be difficult to make those boundaries.
However, deciding your boundaries ahead of time and deciding how you will be consistent with those boundaries leads to better consistency.
For instance, an example of a boundary you may make is that you will only respond to families between 7 am to 4 pm during the weekdays.
Apart from emergencies of course.
To make sure that you are successful you might create a plan to turn off notifications when it’s not office hours.
Or you could always respond right away but schedule your response out for your office hours.
This is a great way to ensure consistency when it comes to setting boundaries.
Mixing up Boundaries with Priorities
The final reason why most teachers struggle with making boundaries is that they are mixing up priorities with boundaries.
Boundaries are the limits to which you hold yourself accountable.
Priorities on the other hand are in what order you consider your duties important.
For instance, you may decide that you will always prioritize your home life before being a teacher.
This can help you set boundaries such as:
- Leaving work on time.
- Only working so many hours at home.
- Setting certain hours to respond to emails.
Your priorities help drive your boundaries as an educator.
Thank you so much for reading, I hope you found this useful!
Today we talked about:
- What boundaries are
- Why boundaries are important to make as a teacher
- Why teachers struggle with making boundaries
In all reality, boundaries are extremely important and can help you become the educator you always dreamed of.
And as a thank you for reading to the end, I want to invite you to join my Waitlist for my Self-Care Membership.
In this membership, you will learn not only how to set priorities and boundaries healthily, but to maintain them in a way that prevents burnout. So if you are interested or want to learn more click here to get on the waiting list and join like-minded educators like yourself.
Because together we are stronger.
The Present Teacher