16 Teachers Share How They Are Creating Boundaries Right Now

Because “NO” is a complete sentence.

Teachers creating boundaries

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

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Things I will not do this year: 🖤 Skip lunch 🤍 Write IEPs at home 🖤 Sacrifice my mental health for my job 🤍 Spend money on cleaning supplies for my classroom 🖤 Say yes to everything What are yours??? Image: Clipboard with lined paper that has the list of things I will not do this year. The clipboard is sitting on top of a notebook, next to an apple and a pouch with colored pencils. #ITeachSped #WeTeachSped #SpecialEducationTeacher #SpedOnTpT #TeachersOfTpT #SpecialEducationClassroom #SpedTeacherLife #TeacherSelfCare #TeacherBoundaries #TeacherMentalHealth #SpedTeacher #AutismTeacher #SpedTeachersOfInstragram #LifeSkillsTeacher #ITeachSpecialEd #DistanceLearning #TeacherProblems

A post shared by Laura | SPED teacher (@missluluspecialed) on

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

A post shared by Beth | Teacher Burnout Coach (@thebetterteacherproject) on

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. 

8. Plan for tomorrow today: Take back your morning

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 

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Yes, YOU! 📣 Now repeat after me: It’s ok to prioritize yourself over 💖 work 💛 your to-do list 💚 others I’m personally a work in progress at some of these 🙃 but getting better every day! One area I’m super good at prioritizing myself over, is work! Not because I don’t love teaching – I do!! (Kindergarten has my teacher heart, for sure! 🥰) It’s because I’ve taught myself to set AND STICK TO boundaries when it comes to planning time. If this is something you struggle with, I’ve got a FREE resource I think you’ll love!! 💕 (totally been there, btw, because the to-do list never ends #amiright 😜) Click the link in my profile for my free guide (w/ awesome planning pages) 🎉 3 Ways to Instantly Increase Your Productivity 🎉 PS. If you needed this reminder, drop your fav heart emoji in the comments! I’ll put mine there too ☺️

A post shared by Stephanie|Teacher Productivity (@teachinglittleleaders) on

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

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I used to bring all my work home with me to do over the weekend. Now I have set some boundaries. Yesterday before I left for the day I wrote a to-do list for Monday morning. I do this every afternoon. This way I’m ready to go when I arrive and can maximize my before-school time. 🌿 What boundaries have you set for yourself as a teacher? 🌿 Also- peep the hot mess that is my planner. My district has added one full day (100% of students) to our hybrid schedule. So I see one group Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and the other group Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday. When they’re not at school we Zoom them into the classroom and I also have to provide a full day of learn-at-home tasks that match the same lessons I’m teaching in the classroom. Needless to say- my planner is a mess. Trying to color code 🤷🏻‍♀️ how have you been organizing the chaos of planning??

A post shared by Rachel (@coffeefirst.teach2nd) on

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.

Plus, My Only Resolution This Year Is Not to Grade or Plan Lessons at Home

16 Teachers Share How They Are Creating Boundaries Right Now

Posted by Julie Mason

Julie Mason is a Senior Editor at WeAreTeachers. She taught middle and high school English, and is a blended and personalized learning instructional coach. She loves reading a book in one sitting, good coffee, and spending time with her husband and sons.

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