It is that time of year to remind ourselves that we need to make sure we set boundaries in the classroom.
I think we all want to be liked whether we are students or teachers. It is easy for a new teacher to want to be popular. But we need to remember that our students have enough friends and what they really need is leadership at this time. By letting students get away with doing what they want shows them that I don’t think that they are capable of doing better. They may even feel that I don’t respect them or care about helping them learn.
Students of all ages want to know where their boundaries are. Children in all stages of development are trying to learn their boundaries. Even toddlers push the limits so they can learn their boundaries. By learning their boundaries, they actually feel safe. Teenagers feel confused and a lot of uncertainty in their lives so they may push the limits just to check that people really do care about them. They may push people away and if they succeed, they may feel it is proof that no one cares about them.
It is my job as a teacher to ensure that my students feel safe in my classroom. I need to show them that I care about them and I want them to be successful. My actions speak louder than my words. They need to feel safe to take risks. They need to be able to risk feeling failure if they don’t succeed. They need to feel safe to make mistakes so that they can learn new skills.
The way I set boundaries is by controlling what I do in the classroom.
I need to make sure that all students learn to encourage each other rather than tear each other down.
I need to make sure the class rules are simple and easy to understand.
I need to make sure I’m consistent and fair when dealing with students who break the rules.
I need to make sure that students don’t laugh when someone makes a mistake.
I need to make sure that students realize that making an error is not a terror.
I need to make sure that I watch my own tone of voice and body language when a student makes a mistake.
I need to control my own frustration when a student doesn’t understand a concept.
I need to figure out ways to explain something in different ways so that a student can learn in the style that is best for that student.
Setting limits for my students will show that I respect them and I believe that they can do their best. I expect that they can learn and I’m willing to help them achieve their goals.