University Spotlight

How I Juggled an Online Master’s Program at Gardner-Webb University and My Busy Life

Can you do a master’s program while teaching full-time?

In the age of unending to-do lists, critical family obligations, and teaching careers where responsibilities accumulate faster than snow in Buffalo, one might chuckle at the idea of pursuing a master’s degree online. One might ask, “Can I do a master’s program while I teach?” As a teacher, one might research various North Carolina online Curriculum and Instruction programs, examining the course load to see whether or not it is feasible for his or her already bustling lifestyle. In my experience, earning my online Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction at Gardner-Webb University was absolutely attainable due to my implementation of organizational skills, time management, and boundaries.

How I Balanced My Time

Structuring my assignments into a to-do list and prioritizing family and work over school were major contributions to my success. Because I knew exactly what was necessary to complete, I was able to streamline the list into what I needed to be read, written, responded to, and the like. As a new mother during the fall semester, I would read my chapters to my daughter as I held her in one arm and my textbook in the other. At school, I would use part of my planning period to read and annotate parts of the text. However, if my daughter required more of me, I yielded her to needs. Moreover, if there was a meeting at school that demanded my immediate attention, I paused my reading and annotating to address the needs of my career.

In terms of managing time, one might find that reading can be more of a multitasking effort, while writing has to be done in solitude. Therefore, as previously mentioned, I would read in settings where I could also feed my daughter and, if at work, make copies. However, if I needed to begin writing in response to what I had read, I would need to wait until my daughter went to sleep. At work, I could easily use part of my planning to write because I did not have my kids at the time. On the other hand, peer responses could be done in a multitasking environment because of the familiarity with the reading and what I had already written as a response. The background knowledge, therefore, naturally combatted the need for seclusion.

Balancing My Master’s Program and Family Time

Finally, boundaries are essential when considering a North Carolina online Curriculum and Instruction degree. For example, I found that if I had work to do, I would chunk it, just like we teach our students to do when they read. According to my to-do list, I would decide to work on a bullet point for an allotted amount of time that was contingent on dinner being prepared, playtime with my daughter, and other things like going out of town, and family time. Therefore, the allotted time might have ranged from 30 minutes to two hours. I never worked longer than two hours on any assignment or project so as not to neglect my husband, family, or career.

If you find yourself on the fence about pursuing an online master’s in curriculum and instruction, do it. Although you might feel that you have enough on your plate, with no room for another commitment,  it will be equally rewarding if you organize, prioritize, and set boundaries.

Brittnei Barnes
Gardner-Webb University, SC

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