Teaching and Graduate School

January 27, 2018 No Comments

Teaching and Graduate School

January 27, 2018 No Comments
How to Handle Teaching and Grad School Like a Boss
If you’re a teacher, it’s a high possibility that you’ve had to balance teaching and attending graduate school at the same time.  It’s not required of every state, but many states in the U.S. require teachers to obtain their Master’s degree so within a given range of time once they start teaching.  Here in Kentucky, for example, you have to start your Master’s degree within 5 years.  The demands of teaching layered with the demands of any graduate-level coursework will most definitely take a toll on other parts of your life.
I hate to brag, but I may very well be a professional at teaching while handling graduate school.  I started teaching in 2011 and started my master’s degree in 2012.  Since then, I’ve obtained my Master’s degree in Literacy, taken additional graduate classes in the field of literacy as part of a district initiative, obtained my Rank 1, and completed an Educational Specialist degree in School Leadership and Administration.  I was in graduate school for 7 years and have only taken one year off of school since 1994.
It’s okay, you can laugh.
You can call me insane.
The truth is, I just love school.  I love learning all that there is to know and getting better at the job that I love to do.  I have learned, however, that if you aren’t organized and purposeful about how you spend your time, your life can come crashing down.  All. Around. You.
Okay, maybe that’s being a bit dramatic.  But seriously.

Navigating Teaching and Graduate School

There are ways to survive keeping full-time teaching job as well as a graduate course load and still have a life, however.  Below are my top five tips for thriving through life if you’re going to graduate school and teaching simultaneously.
1. Invest in a good planner.  This may seem like a no-brainer, but I don’t know how I would survive without my planner.  I’ve used a planner since I can remember but prior to this year, I’ve only ever used it for keeping track of school work.  I usually buy the cheap planners you can get for under $10 at Target.  This year, I switched to a Happy Planner and it is the best decision I’ve ever made.  My planner has three sections, which I use to organize my personal life, teaching responsibilities, and graduate coursework and homework.  This planner has literally saved my life and helped to keep me on track.  Before, I would forget even the simplest things.
I got my Happy Planner during a back-to-school sale at Michael’s for 50% off, but you can find one similar to the one I got on Amazon using this link (affiliate link).  I also know several teachers who use the Erin Condren Teacher or Life Planner.  You can find them at www.erincondren.com.
Using a Happy planner to manage school, work, and personal items.
2. Get ahead of the game.  More than likely, you’ve got a syllabus outlining your assignments for the semester.  I usually try my best to get ahead in my classes, especially with the reading assignments.  Got an extra few hours one weekend?  Read ahead for a couple of classes.  That way, all you have to do is go back and skim your notes the day before.
I always write notes in the margins of my books and highlight throughout.  My absolute favorite pens for writing in my books are the Papermate Inkjoy Gel Pens and fat Sharpie highlighters (affiliate links).  The ink is super smooth and vivid in both of them.  As a bonus, they don’t often bleed through paper unless it’s very thin. You can pick up some over at Amazon.
I use Sharpie highlighters and Inkjoy gel pens to take notes in my books for my graduate school classes.
3. Choose a field that you are passionate about and fits with your current job.  Also a no-brainer.  I got my master’s degree in Literacy because I truly believe that changing the trajectory of my students’ lives and future depends on their ability to succeed in a literate world.  I loved my master’s program because I was learning about ideas and strategies I could immediately take back to my classroom and implement.  This not only made it easier, it made it relevant.  I knew that my coursework mattered because it was making me a better teacher, day by day.
If you’re passionate about what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.
4. Connect with other teachers on social media.  There’s something special about connecting with teachers who understand what you’re going through on a daily basis.  I gain inspiration and understanding from my Instagram and Twitter PLNs, both from teachers in my district and those across the world.  The primarily visual aspect of Instagram gives you a peek into other classrooms, while Twitter chats give you the opportunity to hold discussions and collaborate with others.  Check out this link for a complete list of Twitter Education Chats.  The list below highlights some of my favorite hashtags on each platform.
teacher hashtags to use on social media, instagram and twitter
5. Schedule time to take a break and do something for YOU.  If you only commit to doing one thing from this list, make it this.  As a former workaholic who unabashedly loves her job, I have only recently come to recognize the importance of taking time for yourself.  Before I met my husband, actually, I had no problem working my tail off at work then coming home and working some more.  I enjoyed it, but I also realize that it wasn’t healthy.  It stressed me out to be in that mode 24/7 and my mental and physical health suffered.
Take at least one day off a week.  Don’t work on the weekends or, if you can’t avoid it, limit it to only one day.  Also, find something that you love to do outside of work.  My husband and I love to play tabletop games with our friends, spend time with our families, and cook together.  We also love to pull out our paint and sketchbooks and get creative together.  I know that it’s easy to say, “I don’t have time for a hobby!”  But it’s vital to your sanity that you MAKE time.  Write it down on your to-do list so that you can mark it off.  Schedule it a week in advance.  Just don’t skip it.
I hope these tips will help you manage and stay organized while navigating through graduate school and the teaching profession.  Do you have other tips for thriving during this time in your life?  Leave us a comment below!
sherylwoods

All posts

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Join the #TeacherLadyKY tribe!

About Me

About Me

Hi! My name is Sheryl and I am so thankful you've found your way to the TeacherLadyKY blog! I'm an elementary educator from Louisville, Kentucky who is passionate about building relationships and literacy skills with my students, as well as empowering teachers around me to be leaders and rockstars. I've taught everything from kindergarten to fifth grade and I can't wait to share my experiences with you! Enjoy! Read More

Instagram

  • I moved into my house in late June of 2012. As I was sitting on the porch, less than a week later, this black and white baby came running through my yard and up to me, eager for some loving. 
She was tiny for her breed - nearly 20 pounds underweight and basically a bag of bones. She was so dirty.  Kids from the neighborhood said they had no idea who she belonged to - she’d been running for a while now. I took her in the backyard and she became a part of our family almost immediately. 
It took her a while to trust us. She wouldn’t let us pick her up. She bolted out the door anytime it was open. Even to this day, she hated fireworks and thunderstorms, which gave her such anxiety that she’d pant, pace, and shake.  We had no idea how old she was,  but we knew she’d seen a lot in her years. She had been terribly abused and, with us, she found a new life of love. 
And she loved so deeply. After a while, she learned that there were plenty of pets, kisses, and treats to go around. She leaned into our sides when she wanted some attention. She begged for walks and car rides. The last seven years of her life were good - so good.  She loved us all, but her Grandpa Dennis Boyd especially. She made our family of puppies complete and we couldn’t imagine life before her. 
Our sweet Hallie Grace crossed the rainbow bridge this afternoon, joining our Annabelle. I will miss her, just like I deeply miss my Belle, but I take comfort in knowing that they are together. ❤️❤️❤️
  • A couple of months ago, I posted about how I’d be moving from fifth grade down to fourth. Well, things change!

This week I accepted an offer to serve as the Backpack Leader at Foster Heights Elementary in Nelson County. I am so thrilled for this position since it allows me to work with teachers and help them level up their skills, but also allows me to stay grounded in my first love: teaching. I will still be responsible for a group of students each day and focused on deep learning with them.

It is bittersweet leaving a school and a district that I love - but when I feel the need to jump, I jump.  I can’t wait to do amazing things with some amazing people in NCS! #npossible
  • A rare day in summer when my makeup is on and my hair is down.  I am absolutely loving these lazy, summer days, but I’m also excited about all of the professional learning that will be happening over the next two weeks.

I’ll admit - it’s hard for me to take a break. But when I do, I break HARD! Learning how to balance and make process, while still taking care of myself.

Enjoy your summer, teachers! You’ve deserve it!

#teacher #teachersofinstagram #teachersonsummerbreak #teacherlife #teachersummer #professionallearning
  • It’s true. You are only as good as the people with whom you surround yourself.
  • Anyone else read two books at once? I keep switching between the two of these. They both started out slower than I wanted, but are starting to pick up.

Brave, Not Perfect is about learning to combat your inner perfectionist and focusing on being brave instead.  It’s a powerful message that more people need to hear and take to heart, myself included.

Everything All At Once is the story of Lottie, whose very famous writer aunt recently passed away, leaving her with 24 letters that includes directions for accomplishing specific tasks. It’s starting to get really good!

#bookstagram #booksofinsta #bookstagrammer #bookstagramit #bravenotperfect #everythingallatonce #teachersofinstagram #summerreading #summerreadinglist #teachersonsummerbreak
  • Did you know that elephants like to give triceratopses piggy nose rides? *Not to scale.

@ktberry9515
  • Ten years ago, I brought a little hound puppy home from the Kentucky Humane Society after begging my mom for YEARS for a dog. I knew Annabelle was ours the moment she bit my ear.

From there, Annabelle ruled the house. She sat co-pilot in the car. She was the absolute best snuggler. She loved wearing clothes. She could smile bigger than any dog I’ve ever met. 
She was also a mess and a half. She stole food from wherever she could get it. She was jealous - of other dogs, of Justin, of my new nieces. She plopped herself in my lap anytime she could to claim her territory, but when she was mad at me, refused to turn her face to look at me.

She was the leader of the pack, the first of four. 
Today we had to do the hardest thing I, personally, have ever had to do. Having a dog as an adult is way different than having a dog as a kid. My heart is broken into a million pieces. Mama loves you, Belly girl.
  • I took a trip to the library yesterday and gobbled this one up in a couple of hours. I picked it from the shelf on its name alone and it did not fail to disappoint. Audacious is a novel written in verse from the perspective of a girl who has a knack for pushing the boundaries in every way.

It was a beautiful reminder of the beauty - and the chaos - that comes from walking the unknown, just because you felt like it.

@gsprendergast 
#audacious #audaciousbook #bookstagram #bookstagrammers #teachersofinstagram #teachersonsummerbreak #kentuckyteacher #teacherswhoread #youngadultreads #youngadultnovel #youngadultlit #yalit #ya #read #reader #readersofig
  • Summer reading book #2 is finished! This sweet book, the sequel to #therosieproject, failed to hold my attention as well as the first, but was still so perfect. Don is one of my absolute favorite characters, as cringeworthy as he is. I give #therosieeffect 4/5 stars!

Up next on my summer reading list is #bravenotperfect by @reshmasaujani.

#summerreading #summertime #teacherswhoread #teachersonsummerbreak #bookstagram #bookshelf #teachersofinstagram #teachersfollowteachers #stopteacherguilt

Follow Me!

Twitter

Blog Archive

Credits

The TeacherLadyKY blog header and logo were designed by Sheryl, using fonts from A Primary Kind of Life and Brittney Murphy Design.  Clip art is courtesy of Irina Bandyk, whose Etsy shop is WatercolorCliparts.  The blog theme used is Emilia by Georgia Lou Studios.

 

 

×