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Ideas for Setting Healthy Boundaries While Teaching Virtually

April 22, 2020 by Emily

I’m working more now than when I was in the classroom.  Constantly checking emails, answering class messages, creating and searching for digital curriculum, and worrying about students logging in has been keeping me up super late. If this has become your life too, it is time to set some virtual teaching boundaries of your own.

blog title page and image on setting boundaries while teaching virtually

Create Office Hours for Yourself

“We have “office hours” during our contracted time 🙂 We have to be available to families where we answer emails, calls or (if we choose, but it’s not required) Zoom meetings.” ~ Ellen K-P. 

“We have set office hours in which parents can expect a quick response to a communication, otherwise a response within 24 hours on a school day. I don’t use dojo, so I downloaded google voice to keep my personal number private, and I use the google voice phone number for calls and texts. It has a ‘do not disturb feature’ like dojo.” ~ Michelle G. 

“Be very clear when setting your hours.  Explicitly state your hours and expectations for receiving and following up on messages.  If you set your boundaries early on, parents will be more likely to respect your boundaries.” –Emily G. 

Balance Between School Work and Personal Life

“We are required to set office hours 3 hours a day. That is when I am available to help students. I also set these hours in Remind and my online calendar. If messages come within a reasonable hour, I still respond if it’s urgent. I really try to stick within my office hours because my husband is also a teacher working from home and we have our two children home with us. We have a pretty good schedule that is working so everyone gets their time.” 🍎❤️ ~ Jessica F.

“I stick to my office hours, take a scheduled lunch break, and we are intentional about planning family activities on the weekends (no work!)” ~ Je’Neal E-J.

“I’m just really clear with families and make a Friday Bloomz post that says “remember your teachers are available to help you Monday-Friday 8-6 but on the weekends we are taking care of our families”.”           ~ Renee N. 

“My family knows my meets are the most important. Otherwise….no problems.” ~ Kim A-C. 

“Protect time with your family.  Put all devices down, and don’t have them within your reach.  You will be more present with your family this way. -Emily G. 

Know That Our Parents Are Trying

“I have office hours, but I still get emails and Dojo messages at any time of day. It hasn’t been a problem. Very few parents actually contact me, and the ones who do usually aren’t expecting an immediate response.” ~ Kristin M. 

“We have office hours. But honestly, if I’m sitting watching tv and I can answer a quick question, I do. I know many of my parents are still working during the day, so they’re sitting down at night doing work with their kids. We’re all in this together and my parents are doing the best they can.” ~ Jennifer H.

“We have office hours where I am pretty much glued to my computer. I know a lot of my parents work. So if they contact me “after hours” I try to respond within a hour.” ~ Amanda L.

“Parents oftentimes have multiple children and are also working from home.  It’s important that a little grace is given during this trying time.  I would make sure to let them know you will do your best to be understanding, and you expect the same from them.” -Emily G. 

Set Realistic Expectations for Yourself

“I’ve made it a point to not respond to anything over the weekend. Do it once and it becomes a precedent. I personally don’t do zoom or any live video conferences. Our school has been very iffy about it and I felt like starting it would again set a precedent of unrealistic expectations for me and families.”   ~ Lauren A.

“Always have a plan before sitting down to a meeting with your students.  I send my lesson plan out through Dojo and email so the parents know what we are covering that day in ‘class’.  I remind my students that we are going to stick with the lesson plan.  It has made our virtual class meetings run very smoothly.”       ~ Janessa F. 

“You know yourself and your families best.  Do what is the most efficient and effective for your situation, while still abiding by district expectations.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to your admin if expectations are unrealistic. They are learning too and feedback from staff can be helpful.” -Emily G. 

Save Yourself Time with Digital Resources

Digital Editing Mats

Practically 1st Grade Passages

Digital Phonics Booklets

Now more than ever, we have to support each other and offer advice and assistance anyway we can.  If you have other wonderful ideas on how to set virtual teaching boundaries, please share in the comments below.

-Written by Janessa Fletcher

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