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Showcase: Amanda Yoshida

Writer(s): 
Amanda Yoshida

 

In this issue of Showcase, Amanda Yoshida offers insights into the life of a busy working mom, who is also studying for a master’s degree in TESOL.

Amanda Yoshida

Why try to do it all?

For the past ten years, I have been working full time as an English teacher at a public secondary school where I teach grades 9 – 12. I have two young children who attend daycare. I am also working towards a master’s in TESOL through Anaheim University and will graduate later in 2013. People often remark on how amazing it is that I can do it all. The truth is that I cannot do it all and that many important things have been either outsourced or postponed until I graduate. Essentially, I have reorganized my life so that I can handle studying, working and raising a young family. (Notice that I did not use the word balance. There is no such thing.)

After I returned from maternity leave for my younger child three years ago, I decided it was now or never, and I found a well-structured master’s in TESOL program that fit my lifestyle. My initial reason for getting a master’s degree was to become a better teacher; and while this is still true, I later realized that I have other motivations for doing so. It’s important to me that I can someday move into a position that will offer more opportunities and choices so that when my children grow older, I can continue to challenge myself. However, some people have questioned why I feel the need to do it now while my children are so young. While still in daycare, my children can stay longer and can even go on Saturdays, so now is more convenient than later when they start elementary school. In addition, I couldn’t imagine waiting several more years until the time is right to find that as teenagers, my children need me more than ever. Now, I can depend on the wonderful daycare system offered in Japan, so that I can still make time to work and study before picking them up at the end of each day.

Time Management

Every morning, I wake up at 4:00 AM to study until 6:00 AM, and then I wake up the kids so we can all get ready for work and daycare. I try to leave work on time so I can fit in a study session from 4:45 PM to 6:30 PM. Recently though, I have had to decrease my studying time in order to fit in some daily walks and exercise at my local gym, at the request of my doctor. Sweet drinks and snacks ordered during my coffee shop study sessions were seriously affecting my waistline and cholesterol levels. The kids stay home with my husband on most Saturday mornings, and I go someplace quiet to study and to attend my Saturday online lectures from about 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM. The rest of the weekend is considered sacred for family togetherness; however, I spend much of that time cleaning the house and grocery shopping. When a paper deadline looms, I make arrangements with my husband to stay with the kids for the entire Saturday so I can go out and work on my paper. When it is convenient for my work schedule, I take an afternoon or full day off to write my papers at home.

Time for personal hobbies only occurs during vacations from work and the breaks between courses at my graduate school. I take advantage of these breaks by continuing to wake up early and working on personal projects, such as digital scrapbooking, writing, Internet shopping, organizing and cleaning, all while watching a variety of rented DVDs.

Staying Motivated

Every chapter I read, every paper I write, and every course I finish brings me one step closer to my degree. It’s been a long road to get here, and at the time of this writing, I am taking my last course at Anaheim University. I feel grateful that my husband, though impatient and lonely at times, has supported me throughout my degree program and that I have friends who understand and offer empathy when I need it. I am especially grateful to colleagues and mentors who encourage me and offer knowledge and ideas. One of the best parts of this whole experience was that one of my colleagues, Adrianne Verla, started a graduate program at the same time. She sits next to me at work, and no matter how little support we feel from the peanut gallery, at least we have each other.

Amanda Yoshida is currently pursuing a master’s degree at Anaheim University and has been working at a high school in Chiba for over ten years. Her interests include class-based assessment, writing and teachers’ perspectives. 

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