Q&A: Math teacher budgets time among multiple responsibilities


Gabriella Di Lalla

Math teacher Dria Kerman instructs a lesson on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022.

Gabriella Di Lalla, Staff Writer

In an exclusive interview, The Paw Print’s Gabriella Di Lalla sat down with math teacher Dria Kerman to discuss her busy schedule of teaching full-time, being a part-time graduate student, and serving part-time at a local restaurant. 

Gabriella: How do you manage your time while being in grad school as well as being a teacher?

Kerman: “Time management is something that has taken some practice over the last couple semesters. I put my teaching work first and try to dedicate at least one night a week to stay after school for a few hours and focus on just grad school assignments. These consist of readings, short reflections, discussion posts, creating tests, and longer papers/projects. Depending on how the week goes and how productive I am – I will take either Saturday AM or Sunday AM to finish up on my ‘to-do list’.”

Gabriella: Do you have specific tactics or methods you use to keep up with your workload?

Kerman: “I use a to-do list in my phone to keep track of all assignments. This is honestly pretty rewarding to cross something off the list! I use the time during the week to try and stay focused and motivated so that I do not have to work on the weekends, but sometimes this is a must to keep afloat. I normally reward myself with sleeping in – or if I have to work by getting Starbucks to push through.”

Gabriella: What would you say is the hardest part of balancing both grad school and being a teacher?

Kerman: “Honestly – time management and finding the motivation to write a paper after working all day I try to give myself goals when writing the shorter papers. For example, I will get myself to start and quickly construct the paper. Then I will spend 20 minutes after school the next day to beef it up. Then 10 minutes the next day to proofread. This process has really helped.  I also work surprisingly well under pressure so I am learning how to arrange my schedule to avoid completely stressing myself out but at the same time putting myself in that ‘high productivity’ timeframe to get assignments done. This has worked wonders this semester.”

Gabriella: Is teaching and being in grad school what you expected to happen? If not, are you still happy about it or would you have started them at separate times?

Kerman: “It is! I actually started my master’s in theoretical mathematics during my undergrad and quickly realized I just wanted to get into a classroom and teach. I wanted to go back, but I switched schools – Newbury to Mayfield – after my third year and then COVID hit. This pushed back my start time, I wanted to begin classes the summer before starting my second year (2020-2021), and take classes during the summer and spring. I coached volleyball for the high school and was not going to be able to coach and be in classes. Since this timeline got rearranged, I ended up resigning from coaching to focus on teaching and school. On occasion, this bums me out because I miss the sport and the girls, but I am happy to be able to take classes continuously and keep learning without breaks – I feel like that might make it harder.”

Gabriella: What is your day-to-day schedule when balancing school teaching and grad school?

Kerman: “I start my day by going to the gym to give myself a little “me” time at the start of my day. After that, I get to do what I love, which is teaching and working with students. It is nice to still be doing this while also being in school. After school, I normally either spend some time on teaching work – like grading, prep, parent phone calls, and so on, but if not, then I use that night to work on grad school assignments. I tend to work a lot better at school without distractions so after school is my most productive time. Once I leave this building, it is really tough for me to regain focus at home. If all is good and my responsibilities are completed, then I get to go home and relax, or hang with family/friends. I also work a second job as a server to pay for grad school, so at least once a week I leave from the high school to my second job.”

Gabriella: How does grad school help you to be a better teacher?

Kerman: “I am currently getting my master’s in administration. This has helped me reflect on teaching, my teaching styles, and what kind of ‘leader’ I am in the classroom. It has opened my eyes to a lot of ways that principals can be effective with their staff, and I like to try and translate that into the classroom with my students. The classes I have taken so far have also helped with things like creating assessments, parent interactions, colleague interactions, etc. I am hoping to continue to grow as a teacher and a person, and better what I do for students.”

Gabriella: Do you think being in grad school while having a teaching job is worth it?

Kerman: “I do. It is a lot of work but I truly enjoy what I am doing – so this makes it worth it. I also know that I am setting myself up for success in the future – however I chose to use my degree.”

Gabriella: Would you suggest this plan to other teachers?

Kerman: “I only would if the teacher truly enjoys the content. It is a lot of work and can be daunting at times. Classes are also at night or on Saturdays so a lot of free time is taken up by them. If a teacher is interested in exploring classes, I would suggest the summer.”

Gabriella: What type of classes are you taking and how are they formatted?

Kerman: “I am currently taking three classes and they are all in person. One of the classes meets every Thursday from 5-7:30, where the other two are less frequent but meet for four hours at a time. Assignments vary from readings, short reflection papers on activities, a complete safety plan, and creating a test. They are all very different, which helps keep students engaged.”