What it is Like Being a Working Doctoral Student During a Pandemic

Hector's work station

A blog post by PhD in Education for Social Justice student ambassador, Hector M. Teran.

I am Hector M. Teran Jr. I am currently a school psychologist at Calexico Unified School District and am also in the PhD in Education for Social Justice online program.

As we have approached month seven of the pandemic, I have continued to work from home. Of course, my workday looks vastly different, especially with tacking on a PhD program.Photo of Hector Teran in Graduation Robe

As a school psychologist, my workday varies. Typically, my workday consists of testing students for their upcoming IEP meetings, holding 504 plan meetings, conducting crisis counseling, and/or collaborating with teachers and administrators on academic, behavioral, and/or social-emotional issues. Some days, I am calling parents to remind them of meetings or I am conducting parent interviews.

But I found that a little bit of a routine has helped with keeping the normalcy of my career. I typically wake up around 6:30 AM. I check the news, and my social media accounts for about 10 minutes. After, I make a cup of tea and a light breakfast. To give that old-school working feeling, I change my clothes and work in my makeshift home office. There, I write a to-do list of important tasks I need to take care of (i.e., revising reports, calling parents, etc.). After that, I check and respond to emails that I have received.

Throughout the workday (my workday is 8:10 AM -3:10 PM), my job duties look vastly different. Some days, I am writing psycho-educational reports, attending district meetings, or conducting crisis intervention counseling, all through Zoom or by phone.Hector's work station But I do try to implement some sort of balance between screen time and no screen time. I pace myself with my work. For instance, I will work on a report for 1 hour, then take a quick break to make a snack or talk with my mom or dad, who are teaching from home. I make sure I take a proper lunch break at around 11:30 AM. After lunch, my afternoon is usually filled with IEP meetings, 504 meetings, or trainings. At 3:10 PM, my work computer is off, and my makeshift office is cleared away. I then transfer to the home office and begin my assignments for my PhD program. I have found that working 2-3 hours every evening, where I chunk my assignments over the course of the week, brings in the most effective work completion strategy. For example, if I have a reading response due, I will dedicate one evening to reading the required articles and brainstorm the essay. The next evening will be dedicated to writing the draft, while the next evening will be used for polishing and editing the essay.

I have found that my work and school week are incredibly busy. But, finding that schedule and routine allows me to complete my necessary assignments in a timely manner and still give me enough time to do the things I enjoy doing!

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