In the spring of 2022, I decided to pursue my TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) license. As a high school teacher, I teach a lot of multi-language learners. The program I chose through Ball State University required five classes for a total of fifteen graduate hours, and I decided to complete them in a year. Having made this decision, I signed up for my first two online classes, bought my books, and waited for the classes to start. This was my first time going back to school as a mom.
During my first week of classes, I wondered, What have I gotten myself into?
I had forgotten that graduate classes are hard, and I didn’t realize that my university doubled the pace of their summer classes. Instead of completing one module each week, both classes required that I complete two modules which meant that I had due dates every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Lots of reading. Lots of writing. Lots of stress.
I told my husband, “I’m in over my head. I shouldn’t have signed up for two classes.” Even though it was summer, and I wasn’t teaching, my husband was working full time, my daughter no longer had daycare, and we had multiple trips planned. Yeah, it wasn’t looking good.
Fast forward to this May, and I finished all my classes. I also recently took the licensure exam and passed. Now that I’m on the back end of things (thank goodness!), here is what I wish I had known about going back to school as a mom (or just as a parent in general!).
Online classes look different at each university. Do you prefer classes with a traditional semester or a six-week rotating class schedule? Some universities offer self-paced courses, so you can move on to the next class as soon as you’re finished with one. And as I learned, some universities double the curriculum pace during the summer. Do you have more childcare during some months versus others? Are your kids involved in lots of activities in the fall but not as many in the spring? Figure out what schedule works best for you and find a university that supports it.
Figure out when you study best. Do you retain more information in the morning, or do you do your best writing late at night? Figure out when your brain works best, and, if possible, do your work then. Finding time to study is even harder when you are a mom.
In your program, that is. Someone you can text if you have a question or vent to about a project or just talk about the course content with in general. I had a coworker who wanted to earn her TESOL licensure as well. We intentionally completed our classes through the same university, and having a sounding board or a second opinion was beneficial when I doubted myself. We also studied for the licensure exam together. Having someone hold you accountable is extremely helpful when you are being pulled in multiple directions with work, children, and life.
Returning to school as a mom was more challenging than I expected but doable with some planning. Whether you are earning your bachelor’s, high school, or graduate degree, I’d love to hear your thoughts and what helped you!