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Setting & Keeping Personal Boundaries in 2020

Setting & Keeping Personal Boundaries in 2020

We all struggle with boundaries from time to time. During the catastrophe that has seen the spread of COVID-19 across the world and the way governments have attempted to deal with this threat, boundaries have been both emerging and melting away in a freeze-thaw process. At the same time as we’re surrounded by new physical boundaries – rules about distancing, increased taboo around physical contact – many people are also experiencing the erosion of other boundaries. Families have been forced to isolate together in tight-knit units and professionals working from home are seeing the dissolution of work/home division in a way that seems to remove many boundaries we naturally found when work took place in a traditional way.

Educators have always been forced to think about boundaries more than most as relationships with both students and parents are complicated, to say the least. Now many educators have to rethink their syllabi to promote remote learning.  Technology enables parents to expect 24/7 communication, which makes preserving boundaries more important than ever before. Let’s explore how to go about setting and maintaining personal boundaries to promote balance in your life and a healthy mindset.

Communicating Boundaries

The first thing that teachers should think about doing is clearly establishing their boundaries to students and parents at the start of each term. Firmly communicating these means that if boundaries are breached down the line educators have recourse to step back and clearly explain how parents or students have transgressed. Many teachers and educational institutions offer a welcome package to arriving students with a wealth of relevant information in it. Including a communication policy in this information-packet is the best opportunity to be explicit about boundaries.

Designating Working Hours

When technology enables constant communication teachers often feel like they’re on-call. Counteracting this effect is one of the most important elements of setting boundaries, so it’s a good idea for teachers to think about their working hours and strictly demarcate these in the day. Suggesting “office hours” where communication and contact are welcomed is a good idea as it both demonstrates a willingness to engage with students and parents whilst simultaneously compartmentalizing these hours away from your personal life. “It’s easy to take a breezy but professional tone with these. I suggest something like: ‘I’m looking forward to working with your child this year. Please don’t hesitate to get in contact during my office hours of…’,” explains Felicity Liam, an educator at Revieweal and Academized.

Don’t Check Work Emails On Your Personal Phone

Mobile devices have allowed us to carry everything with us everywhere we go, and this has led to the disintegration of the divide between work life and home life. When work emails are arriving in our pockets it’s incredibly easy to give into the temptation to check them. This can lead to us sitting at the dinner table or watching TV whilst work thoughts invade our brain. “Worse, even a quick reply to a work email out of hours gives the impression that you’re on call and sets expectations for future interactions. Remove any risk of this by taking your work account off your phone – keep work emails limited to work devices and maintain boundaries that you’ve worked hard to set,” says Barbara Adams, a teacher at Essayroo and Assignment Services.

Limit Communication

Young people have grown up in a world connected like never before and often their understanding of boundaries has been influenced by this world. Many students transition between a physical and virtual identity seamlessly, and will often approach educators on channels not officially sanctioned by schools such as social media and messaging apps. For boundaries to be maintained it’s essential that educators don’t respond in these spheres. Keep communication exclusively on public channels such as school message boards. Facebook groups and Twitter can be a great place to promote discussion, but never privately message a student as this erodes personal boundaries.

The Last Word

For personal boundaries to be effective they have to be enforced even when people attempt to push them, and we’ve all met a pushy parent. Don’t be afraid to say no, refer to your communication policy, or include school administration in communication that you feel breaches your boundaries. We are all working to adapt to a new landscape in a post-virus world so give yourself some breathing room with these tips for setting and maintaining boundaries.

Katherine Rundell is a writer at Best Essay Services and Write My Australia. She trained as a teacher and counselor and specializes in fostering emotional wellbeing in work environments. Her further writing can be found at the Top Writing Services service.

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