When deciding whether or not to enroll in Saint Joseph’s Online Accelerated Teacher Certification Program, one of my biggest concerns was managing the time commitment. Currently, I am living in North Carolina and helping to run a family restaurant with my parents. I do not have a predictable schedule from one week to the next, and I often work more than forty hours each week. I never know when I am going to be asked to stay late to cover an employee that failed to show up. Luckily, my parents are incredibly supportive and have been very accommodating with my schedule, making it possible for me to continue to work my full-time job while managing my SJU reading and assignments.
Use Physical Calendars
In addition to getting the needed support from my family, I have also devised a few ways to manage my time over the semester to avoid getting overwhelmed or missing assignments and deadlines.
I think the smartest purchase I’ve made since beginning the program has been buying myself a yearly planner! At the beginning of each semester, I sit down with my class syllabi and enter every single due date into my planner, from weekly discussion board and response due dates to end of the semester papers and finals.
So far, in each class I have taken, the instructors have also posted a general “due date” list that has helped me stay organized. I think that by laying out the whole semester in my planner at the very beginning, I have been able to get a feel for what my light- and heavy-workload weeks will be. In turn, this has allowed me to plan my work schedule and even schedule myself a few vacation days! Using my planner has really helped me to avoid stress, and it is definitely a tool that I would recommend using! Obviously, due dates and schedules can also be managed in a digital format, but since we are completing everything online, actually having handwritten due dates and deadlines all in one place has proven more effective for me from an organizational standpoint.
Keep Pace With Weekly Work
Another time management strategy that I think has been key to my academic success so far has been prioritizing my weekly readings for each class. Every Friday or Saturday, I use Blackboard to find out what readings I will need to complete for the next week and note them in my planner, which again helps keep me prepared and on-track.
Since there is no face-to-face interaction in the online format, I think completing every reading on time so I can write my discussion boards each week and participate in discussions with my classmates has been key to getting the most I can out of each of my classes. Without completing the readings, I definitely wouldn’t be able to produce high-quality discussion posts or have the ability to engage properly with my classmates in our responses, which is where a great deal of my learning has occurred so far.
So overall, planning ahead, staying organized, and keeping pace with my reading requirements has helped me balance my school work, my work schedule, and make time for a social life. All of this has gone a long way in helping me maintain my sanity so far!