Professionalism requires us to maintain appropriate standards and fulfil our responsibilities to learners, institutions and colleagues (Francis and Gould, 2009:10). This is achieved by setting professional and personal boundaries which will enable us to be clear about what our limits are and what our professional role involves.
Professional boundaries could include:
lack of resources e.g. broken or faulty equipment
knowing what sort of advice can or can not be given
lack of support from colleagues and lack of access to resources
Deadlines and time restraints
demands from managers
unmotivated or reluctant students
These boundaries could have a negative effect on us as teachers as well as other professionals within the organisation.
We therefore need to deal with these boundaries by referring to the Institute for Learning’s (IfL) Code of Practice (2008) which outlines the behaviours expected of teachers in the Lifelong Sector (see Section 1.1d).
It is important not to given preferential treatment to one or a group of learners and to treat everyone equally.
Teachers should not give out personal information or get personally involved with a student e.g. not join social networking sites etc. You should avoid touching students inappropriately or give preferential treatment to some students and not others.
It is our responsibility to identify areas outside of the professional boundaries of a teacher, either because of lack of necessary skills or expertise or because it is inappropriate for the teacher to deal with it. This is when external support from other professionals will be required and it is important to identify the appropriate colleague to which to refer the matter. For example a student who is having financial problems should be referred to the appropriate colleague within the institution.