Teaching and grad school are both very challenging. Doing them together is not for the faint of heart! It is possible though — I’ve done it, and so have many others. Here are some tips for balancing teaching and grad school.
Get Really Organized
Okay, this is the most important! You have to stay on top of your work or you will get overwhelmed quickly. I use Google Calendar, but you can have just as much success with a paper planner. At the beginning of your semester when you get the syllabi for your classes, go through and put every single deadline in your calendar.
Go through, too, and put in any important dates for your classroom. This includes things like breaks, parent-teacher conferences, or report card deadlines. Pay attention to any times of the semester that look like they will be especially crazy, like a week where you have parent-teacher conferences and two papers due.
Ask for Help
This is true academically, professionally, and personally.
• Academically – Talk to your professors if you don’t understand something or are feeling overwhelmed. It is way better to get an extension on a paper than to turn in late, poor quality work. Most professors, especially for education degrees where students are working at the same time, understand and are more than willing to work with you.
• Professionally – Hopefully you are working at a school where the administration supports you furthering your education and is willing to help you do so. Don’t be afraid to ask about, say, leaving half an hour early on Tuesdays so you can make it to your class.
• Personally – Just because you are both working and going to school doesn’t mean that you suddenly don’t have to do normal things like cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and feeding yourself. If you have roommates or live with a significant other, sit down together and renegotiate household tasks. Ask for help, especially during crazy times in the semester. My husband did a LOT of dog walking and cooking at certain times of the year! If you live alone, take the time to streamline your routine. For instance, you could take a few hours each week to create freezer meals for yourself so you don’t need to cook as frequently.
Take Time for Yourself
It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that tackling teaching and grad school is stressful business. Schedule time for yourself to relax and treat it like any other appointment. Eat nutritiously as much as possible and try to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Personally, I was always a fan of turning in assignments early when possible to space out my workload, and I never left assignments to be written over school breaks. Find what works for you and take care of yourself!