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FREW Consultants Group        
Wednesday, June 07 2023

Boundaries for Teachers

By defining and communicating clear limits, teachers establish expectations and structure within the classroom, providing a safe and secure learning environment.  Effective and healthy boundaries allow both students and their teachers to navigate through the lesson with a sense of mutual respect and genuine connection.  Children, and teachers for that matter who come from fully functional families generally have already established healthy boundaries but, as outlined in a previous Newsletter…! (Newsletter 238 – Boundaries – 30 May 2023), those kids from neglectful and abusive backgrounds must be taught to have the protection that keeps them secure and allows them to go out into the world to get their needs met.


Compromised Boundaries

Even with the best intentions teachers can easily encounter various boundary problems in the classroom. Here are some common challenges they may face:

  1. Over involvement with students’ personal lives – Teachers, by nature are caring individuals who naturally develop relationships with their students. However, the risk is they become too involved and cross the line from professional to personal relationships.  This is inappropriate and dangerous, it leads to favouritism, compromised objectivity, and difficulties in maintaining a fair learning environment.
  2. Lack of respect for personal space – Each of us has a personal space and you will know this because when others move too close your emotional stability is compromised.  You will know your outer limits are being crossed when your stress levels rise.  However, you will never know the others’ outer limits as all of us have a different size ‘space’ so you will never be sure if you are invading the personal space unless you are told.  Teachers who constantly invade the personal space of others by say, touching them without permission, or making inappropriate comments make those students feel uncomfortable and can negatively impact the learning environment.
  3. Emotional boundaries - Teachers may find themselves emotionally invested in their students’ well-being. While empathy and support are important, we must navigate the fine line between being supportive and taking on the emotional burdens of their students.  Maintain your professional role, if the student is need of specialist counselling then refer them to the appropriate person, you are their teacher not their therapist.
  4. Digital boundary violations – With the increasing use of technology in education, teachers may encounter boundary issues related to online communication and social media.  You must be careful in how you use such platforms such as Facebook, understand that any personal information you post can be read by your students.  The Department has pretty good guidelines for this space


Professional Boundaries

As mentioned above, professional boundaries involve clearly defining the space between the student and the teacher.  The following are helpful:

  1. Physical Boundaries – You need to maintain this area, not only to protect yourself but to maintain the appropriateness of the relationship.  Enforce the outer limits of your physical space and never invade the children’s. 
  2. Availability Boundaries -You need to define when you are available to deal with students.  It is not appropriate for teachers to be contacted when at home.  Clearly communicating office hours or designated times for student consultations helps manage expectations and ensures that teachers have dedicated time for planning, grading, and personal activities.
  3. Parental Boundaries – Parents have the right to ask about their child’s progress and inquire about problems they may have BUT the school should clearly communicate the procedures that must be followed for parent-teacher interactions.  Establish appropriate channels of communication, and set boundaries around response times.


It’s fine to know where your boundaries end but it is important to communicate their outer limits to those with whom you are dealing.  The keys to effective communication are:

  • Explanation – Convey the situation as you see it and be specific.
  • Feelings – Own your feelings and take responsibility for them.
  • Needs – Say what you want.  Be selective, realistic and be prepared to negotiate.
  • Consequences – Outline how things will be if there are changes or if they stay as they are.

It is no surprise that these represent the steps to assert yourself outlined in the last Newsletter(238 – Boundaries – 30 March 2023):

  1. When you …!
  2. I feel …!
  3. Because …! 


There will be times, especially with psychological boundaries when the definition of your boundary will require some negotiation.  The following outlines the steps you must take to ensure your integrity is intact and your safety assured:

  • Establish Expectations: - What are the areas of agreement and real difference
  • Check your Intentions: - Is what you want fair for all
  • Consider Your Options: - Investigate the full range of options
  • Suggested Options: - After discussion put forward your proposal
  • Evaluate: - After trial evaluate and revisit procedure if needed
    • Be persistent in putting your view
    • Be aware of other’s feelings
    • Consider short & long-term consequences


Healthy Sense of Self

By establishing and maintaining effective personal boundaries, you can create an environment that promotes respect, professionalism, and emotional well-being. The strength of our sense of belonging and acceptance is necessary for us to feel secure in our social group.  This fosters a positive and empowering learning experience for students. 


Children who do develop this sense of belonging are categorized as being able to: 

  • Think well of themselves
  • Trust others
  • Regulate their emotions
  • Maintain positive expectations
  • Utilize their intellect
  • Have a sense of autonomy

When working with those students whose abusive and neglectful childhoods have robbed them of any defence against further abuse or exploitation, learning the protective boundaries outlined in this series, teaching them through instruction and modelling is perhaps the most effective skill you can give them.




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John R Frew
Marcia J Vallance

ABN 64 372 518 772


The principals of the company have had long careers in education with a combined total of eighty-one years service.  After starting as mainstream teachers they both moved into careers in providing support for students with severe behaviours.

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