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Byword: A blog by and for the TW community

Back-to-School Jitters (and a few strategies to overcome them)

As transcribers, we are in the unique position of having dozens (or more!) of first days throughout our careers, and we all have strategies that we learn over time to make our first days, and each day after, a success. I'll share a particularly nerve-wracking first day I experienced, and a few of the strategies I employed.

Crowded high school hallway

Walking through the maze of halls of an unfamiliar high school, as a thirty-three year old TypeWell transcriber, did not make me feel grown up and confident. Instead, I felt even less secure than when I was in high school, because as an adult who was not a teacher, I clearly didn't belong. 

This negative thinking didn't last, however, as I'd come prepared, and was delighted to discover that even the teachers who were wholly unfamiliar with transcription services seemed to take an extra adult in the classroom in stride, although one confused teacher seemed to think I was a student, no matter how much explaining I did! Despite those early jitters, I got into a rhythm and began to enjoy my first experience transcribing in a high school.

After reflecting on the experience of transcribing at a new school eighty miles away from home—not to mention that this was my first time transcribing in a high school—I came to some conclusions about how I overcame the first day jitters I experienced there, and how to further mitigate those jitters in the future.

Have A Map

I had researched the school in advance and found a map of the classrooms. I only knew the location of my client's first class, but with the help of the instructor I was able to quickly find the student once in the classroom, and the student provided me with the rest of her schedule.

Morning Traffic

Research Morning Traffic

I researched morning traffic in the area and gave myself plenty of time, adding in extra time for a stop for a hot drink, as I had such a long drive and knew that a familiar pleasure such as a trip to Starbucks would boost my confidence. Of course, I brought a state-of-the-art thermos that could be tucked away in my bag without spilling, something I picked up after a past first day gone awry!

It's OK to Ask for Help

One thing that's easy to forget as a transcriber is that your first day is almost always the students' first day, and there may be extra staff around to help students get where they need to go. Those helpful people are there for us transcribers too, even if they don't know it. I was able to ask directions and find my way.

A Moment to Myself

I quickly got into the routine of introducing myself to instructor after instructor, as the school's schedule meant switching classrooms every fifty minutes. During lunch break I was lucky enough to find a quiet spot outside. I soon found that having a few minutes of quiet was crucial to the quality of my transcription throughout the rest of the day.

Using all these strategies, I had a challenging but rewarding first day, and did not spill coffee on myself or any of my equipment! The best strategy at our disposal is the ability to connect with one another and share our own stories and techniques for facing the unique challenges in our field. I look forward to continuing to learn new approaches from my fellow transcribers.

photo credits:
KindredCoda via photopin cc
Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious via photopin cc


Rachel Ballard

Rachel Ballard has been a TypeWell transcriber since 2008. She is also a writer and co-parent to two French Bulldogs and a grumpy old cat. Her debut novel, A Long-Forgotten Truth, was published in 2011.

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