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creating boundaries: part 1

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When I was teaching, I had a strict policy when it came to attendance.

There were no tardies.

If you were tardy, you were absent. You could sit in on class that day, but it counted as one of your absences. University policy allowed only as many as the class met in the week. Usually this was 1-3 absences per semester. If you accrued more than this, you were required to drop the class. The flip side was, you could use those 1-3 days however you wished. No questions asked.

My classes were part of a sequence, which meant that if you dropped, not only could it affect your gpa, but you’d have to wait an entire year to retake the course. This put the other classes in the sequence on hold, and would likely add a full year on to your college education.

These were undergraduate sophomores, the courses were at 8 and 9am in the morning. I never had issues with attendance.

My intention was this: practice only towards. 

There isn't a job in the country where you can consistently be late, and in acting, you will be fired from the contract. Made sense to begin this awareness right away. 

The syllabus was a contract between us. An agreement on how we stepped in to the space to work together. This edge created boundaries within which students could understand their own desire, develop their own practice, explore the difference between what is and what is not within their control.

Boundaries are everywhere.

In sports, they show us where to aim our play. On highways, they keep us safely in our lanes. Zip codes clearly mark our location. Our laws (in theory) keep us united in vision. In business, they help divvy up tasks and establish responsibilities. In relationships, they signify agreement.

Boundaries help shape us. They give us something specific to respond to. If we bump up against them enough, we learn how to move them or how to become more flexible within them. 

As for the syllabus, it gave us all a way to begin together. Every year I rewrote it, based on what I learned from the students in the year prior.

Interestingly enough, that tardy rule never needed to change.

always in motion,


Click here to read Part 2

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