Updated: Dec 29, 2022
Teaching in a global pandemic has definitely been a challenging time for students, teachers, support staff, and administration. Teachers often work long hours to find ways of meeting their classroom needs in an ever-changing classroom environment. In the case of virtual learning, many teachers struggle to find a balance between their work and at-home life while delivering instruction from home. Many teachers care for children and family at home, in addition to other life commitments alongside their jobs. Teachers must ensure their own mental health is in check to best support their students and those around them. We have included some tips for setting boundaries so teachers can make time for self-care.
It is very easy to get caught up in a day of teaching, making it difficult to know when it is the right time for a break. Establishing boundaries is important for ensuring you have much-needed rest so that you are recharged for a new day.
Tips for setting boundaries
Schedule student support and marking for specific hours of the day - You can still support students without being available 24/7. If offering extra help, let students and parents know. This is also an opportunity to inform them about where and how support can be accessed. When marking, try to avoid distractions such as a phone or social media. Using your time efficiently can guarantee “me time” later in the day.
Avoid checking emails at night - In most cases, it is unprofessional to respond to emails late at night anyway. Instead, check your emails in the morning when you are ready to start a new day with a clear, well-rested mind. At first, you may feel impulses to check your mail. Don’t do it! Eventually, you will begin to see the benefit of disconnecting. It doesn’t make you a bad teacher.
Disable work email notifications on your cell phone. This goes hand-in-hand with avoiding emails late at night. The last thing you want is to be doing is pondering a work email at 3:00 a.m. because of a notification you received before bed. It can be nearly impossible to disengage yourself from work when receiving emails to your phone.
Always use a school phone or block your personal phone number when making phone calls. This is important for setting boundaries as well as your own personal privacy. When teaching remotely, disable your Caller ID in your phone settings or dial *67 to hide your number when calling.
Schedule “me time” every day. Just like every other part of your teacher schedule, dedicating time for your own personal enjoyment and relaxation is a must. This should be mandatory every day. If you don’t allow yourself this time, it will be easy for other boundaries to slip away too. It’s important for teachers to model habits and routines that promote mental health too. “Me time” is something that both students and teachers should schedule every day.
In some situations, it can be difficult to establish some of these boundaries, particularly if it is out of your normal routine. Boundaries are an important step to maintain a positive attitude towards your work and to avoid teacher burnout. These suggestions can be a foundation for creating healthier work habits.