A teacher’s work is never done. In addition to the eight hours per day spent in the classroom, actively instructing a class on the curriculum, teachers must devote several more hours per day engaging with administration and interfacing with parents and guardians.
Over the weekends, teachers grade assignments and exams and develop lesson plans and projects for the coming weeks and months. During what is supposed to be their hard-earned summer vacation, most teachers must participate in training and continuing education courses mandated by their school systems.
So, if a teacher is interested in earning an advanced degree to improve their knowledge and skill while increasing their earning potential, when are they supposed to make time for their studies?
Here are a few tips for teachers eager to pursue a master’s degree in education while maintaining their classrooms.
Enroll in an Online Program
Gone are the days when teachers had to rush from classroom to classroom, spending all day and night in a room filled with desks in the hopes of obtaining an advanced degree. Online education makes it much easier to fit an advanced degree program into a teacher’s already packed schedule; as online students, teachers have more control over when and where they engage with course materials like lectures and assignments, so they can plan their weeks and avoid falling behind in any of their schoolwork.
High-quality online degree programs are available for every level of education, from bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education to PhDs.
Talk to Student Advisors
Before enrolling in a program, teachers should get a sense for the program requirements and rhythm by speaking to advisors associated with the program and the school. Advisors can provide insight into course workload, semesterly credit-hour obligations and more. If a program seems too demanding, teachers should look for a different program that provides them more flexibility.
Connect With a Teacher Mentor
Studies show that the mentor-mentee relationship can be incredibly valuable in pursuits for professional success. Younger teachers may benefit greatly by seeking a mentor from an older, more experienced member of the teaching staff — ideally one who has earned one or more advanced degrees while continuing to manage their own classroom.
Primarily, teachers will receive guidance from their mentors regarding their efforts toward advanced education, such as which courses to take and how to schedule time most effectively. However, teachers might also benefit from the emotional support a mentor can provide during this difficult period.
Schedule Study Hours
It is imperative that teachers set aside time every week to devote to their studies. Teachers need to set their education as a high priority in their lives, and this means committing to engaging with course materials and completing assignments, even if there are other responsibilities that seem pressing.
By maintaining a strict schedule for their study hours, teachers can get into the habit of working toward their degree, and other people can set reasonable expectations for when teachers will be available. Then, teachers will endure fewer distractions and interruptions, and they can concentrate on improving their knowledge, skill and credentials.
Ask for Help
Teachers might be their community superheroes, but the truth is that they can’t “do it all.” While a teacher is pursuing advanced education, they will need help from their family members, their school administrators, and even their students. Teachers should inform others of their intention to achieve advanced education and ask for specific forms of help. For example, teachers might ask their peers to manage some of their office hours, so students continue to have access to additional instruction and clarification.
At home, teachers should find ways to outsource household responsibilities, to include childcare, to ensure they have plenty of time and space to devote to their studies. When they complete their degree program, teachers can repay those who helped them with favors and gifts, as appropriate.
Millions of teachers pursue advanced education while maintaining employment and achieving successful student outcomes. With the right preparation — and the right mindset — teachers can fit another responsibility into their busy schedules and improve their careers for the future.
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