This article was written by IDELTOnline graduate, Michelle McCrossin.
Before starting the International Diploma in English Language Teaching, a graduate-level online TEFL course, I was nervous about the workload. I was also nervous about how challenging the course would be, and about motivating myself throughout my first online course while working over 40 hours a week as a manager at a Sherwin Williams store.
Looking back now that I’ve graduated, there were certain techniques that worked to keep me motivated and spread out my workload. Here are my “dos and don’ts” for taking a course like the Bridge IDELTOnline while working full time:
Make attainable deadlines to break up the workload.
Make attainable and realistic due dates for breaking up the workload, and make these due dates separate from your teacher’s weekly due dates. Do not think you will be able to somehow squeeze work in or just skim the chapters because you are running out of time. It is really hard to do. For example, if your essay responses are due by Sunday at midnight, have a separate deadline earlier in the week for the reading that contributes to those essays (such as every Tuesday night— be consistent).
Focus on how the course is going to work best for you, not how it looks like it is working for others.
The IDELT course is interactive, so you’ll be able to see what other students in the course are contributing. Don’t get discouraged by what everyone else is doing. Some of your classmates will have more time than you and more experience with this industry than you. Observe others’ contributions and learn from their knowledge and point of view, but do not compare how quick or thorough they are at doing their work. At first, I found I did this a lot with my own work and felt I was the slowest one in the class because everyone was getting so much work done so quickly and answering each others’ responses very promptly. Remember it is self-paced during each unit, and this course is meant for your flexibility! You are being just as successful if you are going your own speed!
Don’t stop doing your other hobbies.
Don’t stop your life and hobbies to make extra time for this course. Keep all of your other hobbies the same. The more I was doing, the better I was at managing my time. It is good to reward yourself with your fun hobbies and accomplish school at the same time. It is a healthy balance even if your schedule is packed. Keeping a tight schedule puts more pressure on those self-imposed deadlines you are going to make and keeps your life the same as it was before the start of the course. On the other hand, taking out hobbies leaves you with more downtime, which can cause laziness and lack of focus (this happens to me).
Which brings me to a little example: I am currently taking a Bridge Specialized Certificate, which is a self-study course with less teacher interaction than the IDELT and no teacher deadlines. I have to rely fully on the deadlines I create for myself. After I finished my IDELT course, I took some time off and slowed down my other hobbies. Now I have found it so hard to make headway in my new course with more free time. I am less motivated. I know that creating a more motivating, consistent schedule (with less pointless down time-more motivating hobbies) will help me through this course.
Finally, use your resources (teachers and classmates) and BE CONSISTENT. Find what works for you and stick to it.
I cannot stress how important consistency is to the success of this course when you have a full schedule. I do not have the same work shift every weekday and I also work weekends. I had to create a schedule that was consistent even when my work life was not. Just like I brush my teeth twice a day, when I was taking the IDELT, I read my chapters on Tuesday and Wednesday nights before I went to sleep. It is a time I am always available and it is a time I could rely on to finish part of my workload.