Author Archives: sam2243

A Day in the Life of a Spring Semester TEP Student

Hi everyone! Spring semester of the Teacher Education Program (TEP) looks very different than a lot of other Ed.M. programs at HGSE. That’s because we are completing full-time teaching practicums for our Massachusetts teaching certification. Here’s what a typical Monday is like for me:

5:20 a.m. – Alarm goes off. Yikes. I hit snooze a bunch of times before eventually rolling out of bed to start my day.

6:15-7:00 a.m. – Commute to my school site. I live kind of far and take the train (MBTA), but I actually don’t mind the long commute at all. I consider my mornings as an important built in time for self-care. I listen to music, drink my coffee, and get mentally ready for the day.  Plus, I get to see this stellar view every day:

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Sunrise view of the Boston skyline from Charlestown, MA

7:15 a.m. – School starts! I work in a middle school that has an advisory period every morning. This spring, I am running a book club two days a week during this time for students who need an additional challenge. Every TEP student is required to take on an “additional responsibility” outside of teaching during practicum, so this is mine.

8:15 a.m. – 2:25 p.m. – The rest of school. My mentor teacher and I co-teach four sections of 6th grade ELA. This spring, two of the classes have become my primary responsibility. Between teaching, IEP and team meetings, and a planning period, the day always goes by super fast!

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My 6th Grade Classroom!

3:15 p.m. – Arrive at HGSE. Grab a quick snack in Gutman Café. (Gutman chocolate chip cookies are the best afternoon snack on busy days! Seriously – get one. You won’t regret it.) Chat with some friends, catch up on emails, and prepare for my 4:00 class.

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Outside Gutman Library

4:00 – 7:00 p.m. – Time for class. Since TEP students start earlier than the rest of the Master’s programs, we technically aren’t required to take courses at HGSE during our spring practicum. But many of us still do since there are so many good classes to choose from. This semester, I’m taking Educating to Transform Society: Preparing Students to Disrupt and Dismantle Racism with Dr. Aaliyah El-Amin. It’s been one of the most powerful classes I’ve taken this year.

7:30 – Finally home! I make dinner, do some last minute review of the next day’s lessons, and occasionally watch some mindless reality TV with my roommates (looking at you The Bachelor…sorry/not sorry).

10:00 – Lights out. Time to sleep and do it all again tomorrow.

Sarah Mintz is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Teacher Education Program, pursuing licensure as a middle school English teacher. She comes to HGSE from Washington, D.C., where she worked at an independent school and a non-profit serving incarcerated youth. Outside of education, she loves to spend her time cooking and exploring the city with friends

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Moving Forward: Teaching After the Election

On election night, anxious but hopeful, I gathered in a small apartment with some Ed School friends to watch the election results stream in. Like much of the country, I was shocked at Donald Trump’s unexpected but decisive victory in the electoral college.

Late in the night, as the election results were becoming increasingly clear and friends were heading home one by one, I received a text from a good friend. He encouraged me to get some rest, adding: “The world needs good teachers.”

Those words were still stuck in my head when, on less than four hours of sleep, I woke at 5:15 AM the next morning to head to my practicum at a local middle school (as part of the Teacher Education Program, I am student-teaching in a sixth grade classroom this year). The day after the election, my 11 and 12-year-old students were unusually quiet and subdued. The students I teach are primarily immigrants and students of color. Many expressed distress over the election results and very real fears of racial violence or family members being deported. It was a rough, sobering day to be a teacher, one that made me realize just how hard – and important – teaching can be. That day at school, my mentor teacher and I did our best to give students the room to process their emotions and concerns and to reassure students that no matter what, they will always find a safe and supportive space in our classroom.

But the work doesn’t stop there. I’ve spent a lot of the last couple of weeks processing what Donald Trump’s presidency and the current political climate might mean for my students – for their rights, for the protection of their families, and for their future opportunities. I have many, many questions and not a whole lot of answers, but I do know this much: in a climate of great uncertainty and heightened bigotry, I have never felt stronger about my decision to teach.

At HGSE, the Teacher Education Program focuses on preparing teachers to work in urban public school classrooms. While I remain committed to urban education, I am reminded that the world needs good teachers everywhere. We need good teachers in rural areas to teach students about difference and empathy. We need good teachers in elite private schools to teach students about privilege. And we need good teachers everywhere to help students develop the compassion, resilience, and critical thinking skills they will need to engage with the world.

I know I still have a lot to learn here at HGSE and in my own practice as an educator, but I have never felt more committed to this work.

Sarah Mintz is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Teacher Education Program, pursuing licensure as a middle school English teacher. She comes to HGSE from Washington, D.C., where she worked at an independent school and a non-profit serving incarcerated youth. Outside of education, she loves to spend her time cooking and exploring the city with friends

Connecting with the Community

I am very fortunate to be participating in the Urban Scholars Program here at HGSE. The program awards scholarships to Master’s students committed to careers in urban education. As part of the fellowship, Urban Scholars also meet once a month with professors to discuss issues of social justice and education.

This past weekend, I went with some fellow Urban Scholars to volunteer at Haley House, a wonderful nonprofit with diverse programs that all revolve around connecting low-income communities with food. The particular program we volunteered with was Community Table, a weekly pay-what-you-can meal at the Haley House café in Roxbury. The program allows members of the community who might not otherwise be able to afford a sit-down restaurant experience the opportunity to dine out and be treated to a three-course meal. It also creates space for neighbors to break bread together and strengthen community bonds.

As volunteers, we helped to prepare dinner, waited tables, and ate with the guests. As much as I love my time on campus, it was so nice to take an evening to get out of the Harvard/Cambridge bubble and give back to the larger Boston community. I left Haley House feeling inspired and full of good food and good energy.

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Sarah (right) and fellow Urban Scholars at Haley House

Sarah Mintz is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Teacher Education Program, pursuing licensure as a middle school English teacher. She comes to HGSE from Washington, D.C., where she worked at an independent school and a non-profit serving incarcerated youth. Outside of education, she loves to spend her time cooking and exploring the city with friends

Choosing a Program: A Guide for the Chronically Indecisive

Confession – I am indecisive to a fault. I hate making decisions, even small ones. I agonize over the pros and cons of every available option. I’m always worried about making the wrong choice.

So unsurprisingly, applying to graduate school was a daunting process for me. When I decided to apply, I was working in the front office of an independent school, and I had been toying with the idea of getting a Master’s in Education for a couple years. I knew applying to school was a natural progression of my academic and career interests, but I was so overwhelmed at where to start! I was pretty sure I wanted to teach in a K-12 school, but I didn’t know in what capacity.

I strongly considered the Language & Literacy program because of my passion for literacy, while the Prevention Science and Practice program appealed to my interest in adolescent development and social-emotional learning. Ultimately, however, I decided that the Teacher Education Program (TEP) was the best fit for my desire to get a strong pedagogical foundation before transitioning into teaching. I also love that TEP is a certification program, meaning that I will be earning my Massachusetts Teaching License while working on my Master’s.

Here are three of the most important questions I asked myself when I was still trying to sort out what program was the best fit for me:

1. Why do I really want to get a Master’s in Education? Why now?

People pursue graduate degrees for all sorts of reasons such as career advancement and personal and intellectual enrichment. Giving myself time to do some soul searching about my own reasons helped me solidify what I cared about and where I envisioned myself in the future. A big bonus was contemplating this question also prepared me to write my personal statement!

2. What are my career goals and what kinds of qualifications do I need to achieve them?

For me, realizing that most of the careers I might eventually be interested in started with a teaching license was one of the biggest factors that made me gravitate toward TEP.

3. What do my family, friends, and colleagues think?

While ultimately applying to school is a personal decision, it’s so helpful to hear from the people who know you best. Your loved ones can give much-needed perspective and help you process your options. Solicit advice from everyone, but ultimately come back to question #1 and trust what’s in your gut.

If you’re like me and struggle at making decisions, I hope these questions will be helpful to you and your process! The good news is: there really are no bad choices. With 13 Master’s programs, HGSE has plenty of options to choose from, and each program is rewarding and enriching in its own way.

Sarah Mintz is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Teacher Education Program, pursuing licensure as a middle school English teacher. She comes to HGSE from Washington, D.C., where she worked at an independent school and a non-profit serving incarcerated youth. Outside of education, she loves to spend her time cooking and exploring the city with friends

Charter Schools, HGSE, and Me

One of the best things about attending HGSE is having access to so many cool (and free!) events and lectures. Recently, I attended a charter school debate through HGSE’s public lecture series, Askwith Forums. The event, “More Charter Schools? The Massachusetts Vote and the National Debate,” gave voice to the two opposing sides on a state ballot question that could lift the cap on creating new charter schools in Massachusetts. As a TEP (Teacher Education Program) student, I am spending my year interning in a 6th grade classroom at a Boston Public School. As a future educator, it’s really important to me to learn about issues that may affect my students’ lives and schooling experiences. And as a brand new Massachusetts resident, I found the forum to be personally informative as I prepare to vote this November.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can live stream any Askwith Forum online or you can watch the recorded sessions afterwards. This is from the Askwith Forum I attended:

 

Sarah Mintz is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Teacher Education Program, pursuing licensure as a middle school English teacher. She comes to HGSE from Washington, D.C., where she worked at an independent school and a non-profit serving incarcerated youth. Outside of education, she loves to spend her time cooking and exploring the city with friends.