Thursday, February 8, 2018

Selecting a Graduate Degree Program as a K-12 Teacher

If you are currently a K-12 teacher and have begun thinking about your future in education, this blog might be of interest to you! There are many reasons for teachers to consider obtaining a graduate degree, but the question we most often hear is “Which one should I choose?” Only YOU can answer that question, but hopefully the guidelines below will assist you in isolating your choice.

1. Ask yourself “Where do I want to be in five years?” Do you see yourself in the classroom, the principal’s office or in the district office? Acknowledging if you want to work with students, work in leadership or work in specialized curriculum will help you begin to narrow down your options.

2. Consider the question “What interests me?” Your Master’s degree is a chance to specialize in something that is of interest to you. Think about what aspect of education you enjoy and take time to objectively identify your values, personality, interest and abilities through self-assessment. Focus your Master’s program in a direction that aligns with who you are and the aspect of education you enjoy most.

To get started in identifying your interests, look around your school campus and think about the various education positions. Whose job do you wish you had? Whose position appeals to you the most? Do you prefer to work with students or with adults? Do you like mentoring new teachers? Do you want to lead others as an administrator? Do you enjoy working with students with disabilities? Are you a master curriculum writer? Do you thrive with technology specialization? These questions are incredibly important as you begin to finalize your choice.

3. Be realistic about your motivators. If you are a new teacher who just wants to advance on the district pay scale, a specialized Master’s program is not for you. You should select a generic Master’s degree with the least specialization and the least required courses. Understand however, if immediate salary advancement is your only motivation, you are excluding yourself from specializing in a specific field that might bring career advancement later down the road.

4. Be honest about your work environment. If you have a strong passion for technology, but your district has severely cut their technology budget, a Master’s degree in this field might not be the best choice for you. If you are willing to transfer to a different school, this opens up new possibilities.

5. If you are beginning to feel burned out in Education, don’t select a Master’s degree in Education. Why continue to do something you are no longer enjoying? Consider moving into other industries that combine an education background with another specialization, such as business.

Hopefully answering the above questions will help bring you to a fairly conclusive decision about which program to choose. If you would like to explore more information on the various Teachers College Master’s programs offered at WGU, we encourage you to view the various degree guides that offer salary information, industry growth statistics, job market forecasting and job searching resources.

If you have additional career related questions, please feel free to contact the WGU Career & Professional Development office at careers@wgu.edu or call 1-877-214-7008.

Friday, January 12, 2018

How to Hack Your Day for a More Productive Year!


We are well within the New Year. The fireworks have faded; it is time to get down to business. This is an opportunity to assess and fine-tune your work day for a more productive year. Start by evaluating your annual goals and desired accomplishments and then look ahead to explore how you can plan to achieve benchmarks, objectives, and aspirations. Sometimes the daily grind can get you off your game. There are distractions, delays, and procrastination that can derail your productive efforts for a winning year. 

An organized, strategic approach with small adjustments in your day can be the answer to accomplishing your New Year’s career successes. Here are four tips to help you hack your daily routines and meet your career goals for the year:
  1. Build Your Day Around Your Toughest Tasks -Start your day by identifying your top one or two most pressing tasks. Tackling these earlier in the day can both free up time and ease stress. Some days may have more than two “priority tasks” to attack. When you have competing priorities, use the Eisenhower Matrix to help choose which task to focus on. The Eisenhower Matrix was developed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower while he served as the Allied Forces Supreme Commander during World War II. This principal was developed for him to make tough decisions on a daily basis. Today, this principal can help you prioritize projects by urgency and importance.
  2. Schedule Appointments with Yourself -You schedule specific time for meetings, projects, and assignments but what about scheduling “me time”? Blocking off time on your calendar to focus on work that calls for concentration can result in a more efficient use of your day. Some people will block off the last hour or two of the day so that they can have distraction-free time to answer those emails that pile up in the in-box or to do mundane admin work that keeps getting pushed to the back burner. Scheduling “deep work” at the end of the day can also de-clutter your morning, the next day, making it a more pleasurable return to the office.
  3. Take a Break -Throughout the day, tasks, meetings, and just hard work can weigh on your mind zapping your brain-power causing general malaise. When your brain needs a break, take one. If you are feeling tired, stuck or even irritable, listen to your body and your mind. You are being sent a message: chill out! If it is possible, take a walk outside, take a pause by going to your break room for some coffee or tea, or spend 5 minutes networking with a colleague. You can build rapport, share ideas or just talk about weekend plans (but only if they can also take a break). Whatever you choose, get out of your office and enjoy a different scene. This kind of downtime can make you more productive and can give you some perspective on problems and workday challenges. Creating a balance in your day can also help time fly faster. Don’t worry, the work will still be there when you return.
  4. Follow the "Five Minute Rule" -If your day consists of small, “micro-projects” that might take about 5 minutes or less to do, then just do it now and get them out of the way. Answer a few emails, de-clutter your desk, or take a few minutes to organize your paper piles. These smaller actions can help free up time for larger projects throughout the day and week.
These few tips and hacks can result in small wins that can help provide a sense of accomplishment and give you greater momentum toward larger tasks that lay ahead.

Share with us in the comments below your tips for a more productive day. In addition, do not hesitate to request an appointment with a WGU Career & Professional Development Specialist for strategic guidance toward a more dynamic work life.