Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166

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Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166


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Boundaries in the Workplace and Beyond

By the Adult Wellness Team

We are at a transition time. We are ending this school year, taking a break over the summer, and then preparing for a return to learning next fall, while still living through a global pandemic. What do you need to do in this moment, during this transition, to love yourself and your work simultaneously?

In thinking about how to create this necessary space between self and work, we offer these ideas from Jennifer Gunn in her article Summer Teacher Prep: Setting your Work/Life Boundaries. Additionally, we want to highlight an asynchronous professional learning opportunity around establishing boundaries that push back against the white supremacy workplace culture. 

Take time for self-care. Self-care isn’t selfish, nor is it frivolous. It is taking time to truly reflect on how we engage with the work we do while recognizing our human needs. By taking care of ourselves on a deeper level, such as working toward a sustainable work load despite the demands of our system, we empower ourselves to have more capacity to connect in meaningful ways to ourselves, our students and our work.  

Hit the “summer reset button.” It is often not possible to do the deep reflective work our profession requires while also doing our job. During this much needed and deserved break, you might opt into some summer professional learning. Or you may find, particularly after this school year, that you need to disconnect from it all.

This summer, be thoughtful about how you reset after what many educators say has been the most challenging year of their teaching careers. There is no one right way to come through this and move forward.

Let go of the guilt. This is easier said than done. As people who have chosen a profession in which we support the learning and growth of youth, we often take on more than is healthy for ourselves. Even when we are stretched thin and burning out, we might feel guilty that we are still not doing enough. We all know there will always be more needs to meet than hours in the day. Doing your best is enough. Protecting your time and energy is vital to your continued ability to show up in meaningful ways for your students and families, as well as yourself. 

Set boundaries. Gunn offers these questions to get you thinking about your own boundaries as they relate to work:

  • What will you say “no” to this year? 
  • What will you say “yes” to this year?
  • What limits can you set for your outside-the-classroom time? Consider things like: 
    • No school work after 6:00 p.m. at home. 
    • One extracurricular program only. 
    • No answering work emails on Sundays. 
    • Stay one extra hour at school so that work doesn’t come home. 
    • Set time limits for paperwork sessions.
  • Don’t just plan your work-task week, plan your life week. Make your personal time a priority instead of an afterthought.
  • Set boundaries for when you’re available for email or phone communication—for colleagues, parents, and students. You don’t have to be on call 24/7 to be an amazing teacher.

If you’re interested in learning more about boundaries and how you can use your boundaries to push forward anti-racist work, we invite you to partake in a clock-hours asynchronous session put together by our Adult Wellness team. You can sign up in Frontline (coming soon!) to access the Canvas course “Boundaries in the Workplace and Beyond.” Resources include this slide deck on Boundaries, video of the session with expanded content, and other asynchronous activities, for a total of 2 clock hours for certificated staff or 2 para cert clock hours aligned to FCS 10.