We are back from Spring Break!
My spring break was spent at a lodge at the southern end of Olympic National Park in Washington State. I came back from that trip (little to no cell service, lousy wifi, and lots of time with nature… the introvert in me misses it already) with a clearer idea of a few things that needed to change – the main one being boundaries.
We have discussed boundaries as a staff, and the importance of them in the classroom. Boundaries are a part of the order in the order with freedom concept that we look for in the classroom. The boundaries in place are things we can discuss with the kids in regards to why they are there – and usually the kids understand it and will agree that for the benefit of the class as a whole, that boundary should stay in place. If for some reason they do not agree, then that is a discussion for a classroom meeting, where everyone can provide their input, and we can determine if that particular boundary is truly meaningful.
Without boundaries, there would be chaos – everyone would be doing whatever it is they want to do, whenever they want to do it. Depending on what you want to do, that can also lead to endangering someone else, and that is not an option. Without boundaries, humans start feeling entitled – no one has ever said “no” to them, and they always get what they want. This applies to students, staff, parents – everyone in the human race.
I came back from spring break with very specific boundaries in mind that I was going to put into place and stand firm with. My purpose behind these boundaries is that I am more productive (and of more use to the school as a whole) when I am able spend focused time on tasks at hand. What has been happening is that I will start a task… then answer a phone call from a parent… then answer an email that just came in… speak to a teacher who has sent a text… respond to a Facebook message… answer another phone call… let in a late drop-off…. answer another email… and so on, until the task I started is either forgotten or put off until the next day. I had unfortunately trained the parents that I am available at the drop of a hat – which meant the one time I didn’t immediately answer a Facebook post, I was then tagged in the post (so it would notify me again – although I had long since turned off notifications, and I have now taken Facebook off my phone), and then the parent sent an email because I hadn’t responded (it had been maybe an hour, maybe two). This does not work for me, and actually puts me under a lot of stress.
Two of the boundaries I am setting up now that I will share with you here:
- I will respond to messages (phone, email, text, Facebook, smoke, pigeon carrier, etc.) within 24 hours. If there’s an emergency, call the school and someone will answer, it might just not be me, and I might not be immediately available. If the voicemail picks up, I do check voicemail.
- Facebook is only for business hours. Current parents might have me as their friend on Facebook and can see when I’m active on there. I have commitments outside of school that will require me to login in the evenings and on Saturdays – but I will not be handling anything school related during those times. (I have two more Facebook boundaries, but those are going into the private school group page.)
There are a few additional boundaries that are going into a file for next year – mostly items we have been lax on, however it makes more sense to start with a clean slate come August 2018.
These are examples of boundaries at school, between administration and parents. We have boundaries as a staff; and the teachers have boundaries in the classroom. Society has boundaries that are placed on all of us. What are some boundaries you have at home? Are they respectful and reasonable? Does everyone, including the kids, buy into them? If not, have they been enforced erratically or autocratically (“my way or the highway”)?