Teaching any grade from kindergarten through college can be an overwhelming experience. Between administration, teaching preparation, delivering lessons, and providing support to students, a typical teaching job goes well over a forty-hours a week. The only way to create a better work-life balance is to set clear boundaries with students. Here are some ways that teachers can maintain positive mental health and establish boundaries to get more done.
Having strict office hours is an easy way for teachers to set boundaries with students. Teachers should set a specific time to give extra assistance to students. The hour or two after school or during the student lunch period works well because it is still a normal part of the workday. This time also gives the extra time that students and their parents need to contact their teachers. The hard part for teachers is to stick to this time as the only office hours available. This means not responding to emails, phone calls, or appointments outside of these hours.
When students know that teachers make exceptions depending on individual situations, they can take advantage of that knowledge. Teachers may find many students wanting special dispensations for their circumstances. Not only is it not fair to treat all students the same, but it also takes up more time to deal with special requests and extensions. Teachers should have clear rules that students know and can access at any time. Students can use these rules to understand the expectations have for them.
While it can be difficult to demarcate personal space in a classroom, it helps set a noticeable boundary between teachers and students. Many teachers want their students to come up to them when they need to do so. Unfortunately, this creates a culture in which the teacher and all of their things are simply part of the classroom. Teachers can show students how to respect boundaries by not allowing students at the teacher’s desk, except for during office hours. They can also make sure to maintain distance when giving a lesson.
Having healthy boundaries helps both students and teachers in the long run. Boundaries give teachers the space and mental clarity to do their jobs well and still have a home life. It also teaches students, regardless of their age, patience and how to respect other people. Putting these boundary ideas into place is a great start for teachers to reclaim their time.