Boundaries with Colleagues

He told me in front of his class that I did not have control of his class as they were not in line. I was on yard duty and when the bell rang, all of the teachers came out (about 12 teachers as I covered 2 doors and a large schoolyard), made sure their class was in line and took them into the school. He stayed inside the school, and his class entered the school as a group when he waved them in. This crossed over my boundaries of speaking badly about me in front of others. I went to him privately and politely told him that I felt hurt when he spoke badly about me in front of his class. I asked him to come to me privately if he had a criticism in the future. Before I spoke with him, I went to the union rep on staff and let her know what had happened and what I planned to do about it. If the meeting went badly, she agreed to help mediate for me. Thankfully, the teacher apologized, did not do it again and that was the end of the issue.

As teachers, we need to make sure we have good boundaries. We don’t want to expect other people to do our job and we don’t want to have to do other people’s jobs. Knowing our boundaries is the first step.

Next, we need to politely enforce our boundaries. The best thing is to say right away when someone crosses over our boundary. It is most likely to be resolved if we mention it right away, in a casual, polite way. “Would you mind asking your class to pick up their garbage before leaving the gym?” We may have to ask a couple of times. Enforcing our boundaries is just as difficult as having healthy boundaries.

It is easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar and it is easier to be sure our boundaries are respected when we have good relationships with people. Even when it is difficult, I try to be kind and polite to everyone.

Finally, we may need help enforcing our boundaries. When we have gone to the person a couple of times and they have not respected our boundaries, it may be time to speak to your union rep or to the vice-principal or someone with authority to help. They may give us good advice that we can follow to resolve the issue without having to do anything themselves.

Some things are not worth enforcing. Right now the caretakers do not empty my garbage nor sweep the floors every night as they are supposed to do. I am in an office, not a classroom, so it isn’t important and as long as it gets cleaned once a week, I’m ok with that. Choosing your battles wisely makes life easier!

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