Day 141 (of 184) Professional Boundaries

Day 141 (of 184) Professional Boundaries…

Today at a professional development day we talked about ‘boundaries’ – specifically between teachers and students. I really like how the presenter phrased his introduction:
“Are you doing something because you need it, or because the student needs it”.

Very important as we talked about some key questions:

Student walking down the hall and wanting to hold a teachers hand
Male vs Female (walk into a kindergarten classroom and see a 5 year old on a lap: does it matter the gender of the teacher?)
“Off duty vs On duty”…
Tone of voice (interpretation vs intention) -esp when only ‘seeing’ one moment…
Blurred lines (in a small community) when are you a parent vs teacher

The pressure is huge when you are a Teacher 24/7 – so if you are at a friends house and some of the teens that are there are being offered drinks…..what do you do?

“A teacher must maintain a standard f behaviour which most other citizens need not observe because they do not have public responsibilities to fulfill” … Shewan Arbitration, Dec 1987

Thinking about: A Fiduciary Relationship is a special relationship in which one person accepts the trust and confidence of another to act in the latter’s best interest. Again – is it (the activity – such as a child sitting in a lap) in the adults, or students best interest….

It is different to give a hug to an injured student, or as a way to say hello/goodbye; but may be different if ‘too’ private (although some middle/secondary students need that ‘private time’ to become vulnerable and expose their needs/injuries) – difficult to identify intention vs interpretation.

Boundaries exist in student/teacher relationships because of:
-the inherent power differential between teacher and student
-teachers have considerable influence over students
-students are dependent on teachers
-students cannot give informed consent to an altered relationship
-teachers occupy a position of public trust

Factors affecting “appropriateness” of relationship
-age differential
-skill/experience/maturity of teacher
-teachers communication style
-emotional needs or maturity of student
-cultural differences
-student perception of teacher (object of a crush or caring teacher)

—> consider invitations – to something private (birthday party) vs something public (sporting competition) – and how it can be perceived by the rest of the class….Q: do you share “I saw you at your dance recital and it was amazing” in front of the class, in private, or not at all (A: there is no one right answer….)

And then….electronic world

It is easy and convenient to have electronic communications, but… emails can be easily altered to a form that was unintended by the author. It is a world-wide forum with access by everyone.
For good and for …. interesting….

Model ethical and appropriate cyberconduct. Be prudent.


intervene/assist as soon as possible
point out & talk about certain behaviours (what are red flag situations – even if not ‘bad’….)
encourage good physical, mental and emotional health – sometimes stress and poor health cause unwise choices/decisions
utilize your support network

Key learnings:

Be aware. Don’t teach fearfully, but be mindful – something that we talk about a lot at our school!


About technolandy

Principaling on the Pacific in Powell River BC Pushing 'technologization' in education: blending technology and curriculum seamlessly. Advocate for better understanding of Anxiety in Education (and use of self-regulation) Utilizing ePortfolios & Descriptive Feedback to personalize learning!
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