A Day in the Life of a L&L Student

What does the day in the life of a HGSE student look like? Well, I am one, so I’d be glad to provide you with a little sneak peek! As a reading specialist intern in the Language and Literacy program, my days come with a practicum placement – a setting where I work with students three days a week in small groups or on a one-on-one basis. Let’s see what we’ve got.

6:17 AM (17’s my lucky number)  – First alarm rings.

6:27 AM (Notice a pattern?) AM – Second alarm rings. I open my eyes and stare at the ceiling hoping it’s still only 6:17 and I have some time to kill, but reality sets in quickly and I start getting ready for the day ahead.

7:00 AM – Out the door and making moves past Appian Way to the bus stop at Cambridge Commons.

7:03 AM – Stop in at Burdick’s and grab a warm hot cider to go. It’s an indulgence I find hard to pass up on these cold winter mornings! I try to resist the heavenly smell of the freshly baked tarts and croissants in the morning, and sometimes I am successful.

7:13 AM – MOST of the time, I can count of the bus to be there at exactly 7:13 AM. Please note that I emphasize most. Delays happen.

7:30 AM – 12:30 PM – I’m here at my practicum placement, and the hours fly by – small group literacy circles, one-on-one tutoring, sitting in on data meetings and discussing our RTI (Response to Intervention) plans for students not making the benchmark scores, selecting materials, making copies, etc. Both in my placement and in the other schools that my colleagues are in, many of the staff and administrators are HGSE alums! It’s true when they tell you at orientation that this place never leaves you. I’ve gotten a knack for spotting the “HARVARD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION” tote bag a mile away! Anyway, practicum’s incredibly hectic, but I love every minute of it. When a student’s face lights up because they’ve finally gotten it, it’s the most rewarding feeling in the world. But I don’t need to tell you that – isn’t that why you applied to be a HGSE student in the first place?

12:31 PM – And I mean 12:31, because I need to get out of practicum and make the bus so that I can have time to grab some food before an afternoon of classes! Otherwise I’m stuck waiting until the 1:00 bus… and no one wants to do that.

12:55 PM – Back at campus, headed to Gutman Library to grab my favorite sandwich from the café (by now, the sandwich lady knows my order by heart – a pretty great accomplishment, if you ask me!), and say hi to every single person I’ve ever met since Admitted Students Day. Gutman Library from 12 to 2 is a scene! Sometimes I just sit in those round purple chairs at the front of the lobby and people watch. People are schmoozing, talking policy, eating in front of their laptops pretending to do work when they’re secretly catching up on the latest Netflix episode (or is that just me?), catching up with friends, conferencing with professors, everything!

1:15 PM – By now I’ve made my way down to the Jeanne Chall Reading Lab, or as us L&L people like to call it, our second home. You’d be hard pressed not to find at least two of us in here at all hours of the week, and the only reason we’re not there during the weekends is because it has to close at some point! It’s at this time that I get to catch up with members of my cohort, swap war stories with the only nine other people who know exactly what I’m going through at my placements, and eat some snacks.

2:00 PM – 7:00 PM – Notebook? Check. Heavily annotated research articles? Check. Mechanical pencils? Check. Bags of sweet potato chips and double-stuffed Oreos? (L&Lers love to eat. Scratch that. Teachers love to eat.) Check. Enthusiastic discussion about different aspects of policy and practice? Check. One class at HGSE is never like the other. Each one has me leaving with more questions as I came in with, and that’s all good. One of the best parts of being a HGSE student is that we are always questioning, always thinking, always wondering.

7:00 PM -7:45 PM – Headed over the Hemenway Gym to get a workout in! This is the perfect time for me to tune out the world and unwind from the day.

8:03 PM – Headed to Market on the Square to grab dinner and some materials to pack for tomorrow’s lunch. Call my mother so that she knows I’m alive – Harvard students get busy, but not too busy to call their mommas! (Her words, not mine).

8:17 PM – Time to get some homework in and lesson planning done before I go to sleep at 10:30. It’s unbelievable to think that I can sit down and do homework after a day like this, but Harvard kids have stamina.

10:31 PM – Snoring. Hopefully.

Is every day like this? No. Are Tuesdays like this? Absolutely. This is my life here. And I want to savor it because the second I blink, graduation will be here. 

Stacy Tell is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Language and Literacy program. An aspiring Reading Specialist, Stacy is passionate about helping students to become lifelong readers.