The best advice another teacher ever gave me was this: no is a complete sentence. No explanation necessary. While this sounds simple, the idea that I was allowed to simply say no blew my teaching mind. The concept of teachers creating boundaries was news to me. I was the “yes” teacher, and the “No, but instead I can…” teacher. I was also the teacher who cried on her drive home and fell asleep at 8 p.m.
But let’s get real: saying no and creating boundaries is hard. Sometimes we don’t have a choice if it means keeping our job. While we can’t change everything, we can get a little help. Here’s what teachers on Instagram are doing to create boundaries and take care of themselves. Because let’s face it: 2020 is our hardest teaching year yet.
1. Trust your teacher gut: if it’s making you tired, angry, or resentful, say no
If you are starting to feel HANGRY (hungry, angry, lonely, or tired), it’s time to pay attention and make a change (easier said than done, I know). One way teachers create boundaries is by paying attention to how they feel.
2. You can’t do it all: ask for help and share the load
Teachers can handle a lot. We juggle so much that we often don’t realize how much we have on our plates until they come crashing down. Teachers who create boundaries ask for help and delegate so they don’t burn out.
3. Shut it down: your computer auto-shutdown is about to be your new BFF
This is everything. When teachers are creating boundaries sometimes they need a little help from their friends (and technology). If you can’t shut it down, make your computer do it for you!
4. Set reminders: an alarm on your phone will help you remember your boundaries
This might feel silly at first, but it’s the first step in reminding yourself of your boundaries so you stick to them!
5. Trust your teacher gut: if it makes you excited, happy, or energizes you, say yes
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Why you need to figure out your YES before you say NO. For every NO or boundary you set, you are essentially saying YES to something. My YES’s have been… ⭐focusing on one specific area of PD (I am a special ed teacher/math teacher, so I tend to focus my energy and time on things specific to FBA’s/BIP’s or behavior related education, and high school math, especially interdisciplinary implementation). ⭐focusing on my fitness (taking a yoga class directly after school). ⭐focusing on my health (stress tends to exacerbate some health related issues, so I have to keep it in check). ⭐spending time with family and friends (family get togethers, dinners, and quality time are important to me). I’m telling you, it has dramatically changed how I respond to things by being specific about what my ‘YES’s’ are. I’ll save you some time, and just tell you that saying ‘my family’, won’t cut it. I said SPECIFIC. What about your family makes it a YES? Is it your desire to connect with your kids after school? Is it your need to have family dinners? Is it that your children are at a ridiculously cute age where they are saying the funniest things and you can’t bear to not be around to hear them? GET SPECIFIC. So in order for you to feel good about setting boundaries, you need to figure out WHY you’re setting boundaries. What are you saying ‘yes’ to? Give me some examples! What are you saying yes to? #boundaries #healthyboundaries #whatisyourwhy #findyourwhy #sayno #familytime #teacherboundaries #teachermentalhealth #teacherwellbeing #takecareofyourselffirst #healthyhabits #healthymind #mindsetiseverything #healthymindset #shiftyourmindsetchangeyourlife #shiftyourmindset #howtosetboundaries #teacherwellness #teacherssupportteachers #teachersfollowteachers #instagramteachers #teachergram
Resentment sinks in when we aren’t doing the things we love (or we just don’t have any time for them). You will never have more time, but you can re-think the time you have. When you say no, you can say yes to something better.
6. Turn the computer off: it will still be there when you get back
We love how this teacher created a boundary by turning off her computer to take a walk when she needs a break. Yes, the lesson plans will still be there when you get back, but you will be calm and ready to finish them.
7. Don’t shut down: treat yourself as well as you treat your phone
So sad, but so true! We freak out when our phones are almost dead, so why don’t we do the same for our energy? Teachers who create boundaries recognize when they need to recharge and they do something about it.
The more you do the night before, the less stressful your morning will be. Set a boundary for yourself that you will take back your mornings with this one.
9. Clear the clutter: spend 15 minutes each day completing the tasks you’ve put off
This is the best advice! There are so many little tasks that stack up. Set a timer and tackle them for fifteen minutes each day. We promise you will feel better.
10. Pay it forward: we get by with a little help from our friends
Text. Call. Post. Share. Spread the word to all your teacher friends: no is a complete sentence. No explanation needed.
11. Listen to your admins: especially if they have your back
To all the admins who get it. Thank you! Sometimes we need a nudge or friendly reminder that we can’t do it all, nor should we.
12. Make your Monday to-do list on Friday: then, shut that planner for the weekend
This is one of our favorites. It’s quick but makes such a difference. Get organized on Friday so you can enjoy your weekend (no work!)
13. Create a self-care routine: then make a habit you can stick to
We are challenging our inner Rachel Hollis with this one. Goals are great, but habits are better. When you create healthy routines and stick with them, they become habits you can stick to.
14. Get quiet: spend time by yourself and don’t apologize for it
Our jobs (online or off) are noisy! It’s hard to think, let alone recharge when you never have any quiet. Create a boundary where you demand quiet alone time (you will thank us).
15. Join the party: it’s easier to rest when everyone else is doing it
Put your feet up on Fridays. Make it a tradition. Let it be your visual cue that work is over and it’s time for you.
16. Last but not least: your weekend mantra
This one speaks for itself. It is ok to leave work at work (or if you work from home to shut the door or close the laptop). Rest up, you deserve it.
Do you agree with how these teachers are creating boundaries? Do you have any of your own? Come share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE Facebook group.