Category Archives: Courses

One Person at a Time: building your social capital

Quitting my job and entering a new profession wasn’t a decision that I took lightly. It took a lot of soul searching, prayers, a pay cut and a great deal of courage. I want to explain why I quit the world of finance and investment banking and entered the education field.

I quit because I wanted to have a positive impact on learning, which I believe cannot be accurately measured by test scores. I quit because children are not just our future, they are our present, and they need to be empowered now. I quit because I have a soft spot for dreamers and had to find a way to make their dreams come true.

Entering this new profession has made me uncomfortable several times and one of the hardest parts for me so far is learning how to network. For some people networking is a cakewalk but for me it is as hard as getting a perfect score on the GRE. Since the day I arrived at Harvard, I have wondered, “how do I network?” I received a variety of answers ranging from “you need to be present at all events and talk to as many people as possible to build your social circle,” while others told me “networking is meeting someone for a cup of coffee.” I didn’t know what to do with this advice because I wasn’t sure yet what it meant to “fit in” at Harvard. However, I didn’t give up my quest to find out.

In one of our meetings, Professor Fernando Reimers addressed my question. In his words, “it isn’t as much about networking as it is about building your community.” Some people may network by talking to as many people as possible and trying to be the most popular person at a party. But for me, building community means getting to know one person at a time and taking the time to really talk to them. This way, I’m building long-term relationships that won’t die as the party comes to an end. 

And that’s how I started building my social capital – with the philosophy that I don’t have to know everyone at a party or an event. Instead, I focus on meeting one person at a time and developing lifelong connections. I hope this post helps people who don’t see themselves in the category of “fitting in” realize that there is more than one way to connect with others at HGSE.  

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Blog and photos by Aarushi Singhania

Aarushi Singhania is a master’s candidate in the International Education Policy program. She is passionate about bringing inclusive education to marginalized students and the financial empowerment of women. Aarushi has a small–scale startup focused on empowering young girls and women in Bangalore, India that teaches them to work towards building financial capital with vocational skills, entrepreneurial competencies and digital literacy.

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Cultural and Intellectual Diversity at HGSE

At Harvard, intellectual curiosity is leveraged not only in classrooms and the myriad places around campus, Cambridge, and Boston more broadly, but within warm, welcoming, and supportive spaces that fuel our unique sense of community. I cannot emphasize enough how important this sense of community is in extending our thinking in new directions and applying knowledge vis-à-vis innovative programs that reflect a deep sense of care for others; whether it’s for the students we hope to inspire in classrooms, designing evidence-based interventions that buffer the effects of toxic stress in high-risk communities, protecting the legal rights of children around the world, or helping young people find meaning, passion, and purpose in their everyday lives by nurturing skills and abilities unique to their individual learning styles and personalities.

But to accomplish all this, we first ‘learn to learn’ from others by opening our minds and ears to both the renowned scholars here at HGSE – and perhaps more importantly – to our incredible peers who bring to Appian Way a diverse range of cultural and intellectual experiences. During my time at Harvard, I’ve had the privilege of learning from students who arrived by way of China, Japan, Thailand, India, Australia, Ghana, Nigeria, Spain, Russia, France, Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador, Singapore… The list literally goes on and on.

In addition to a rich cultural diversity, our community consists of students and faculty spanning an array of intellectual disciplines and ideological differences. A typical classroom will be full of students studying health, medicine, law, government, physics, and engineering. Furthermore, our classes often intersect with surrounding universities including Tufts and MIT. This interdisciplinary exposure puts us in a unique position to collaborate with experts (and emerging experts) from diverse domains of knowledge, and equips us with real-world skills needed to sift through dilemmas with fresh lenses. For instance, a recent discussion with students in one class illuminated the ways in which different cultures view American youth identity as portrayed in westernized new digital media. On the same day in another class, I learned about conceptions of childhood, labor, and marriage from a student growing up in Ghana. Yet in another course, our project team consists of a psychology student, educator, and medical student confronting social-emotional learning difficulties among refugee children. In our SSP cohort, we recently established a working group on justice, power, and privilege to better understand how these concepts manifest in our personal and professional lives.

At the core of each example above lies a thirst for shared knowledge and deeper understanding within and across cultures and experience, all nested within a supportive environment where we look forward to every opportunity that propels discussions into uncharted territories. We learn from one another, share our personal stories, and navigate all this through an established culture of intellectual curiosity and social support. A critical element embedded in our shared learning is openness to understanding and respect for diverse points of view. Engaging in such collaborative discourse has had profound implications for shaping how I listen, learn, and express myself. And I feel fully supported in this initiative by our faculty, students, and staff.

During orientation, our program coordinators shared with us a TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (recommended viewing for all!), which underscores the “danger of relying on a single story.” Coming to terms with how biases are shaped provided a platform for generating iterative dialogue where so many “Eureka!” moments take place. Indeed, a willingness to question our own preconceptions is needed for making lasting, innovative change. In the spirit of avoiding the pitfalls of single stories, I encourage each of you to reflect on what you currently know, what you think you know, and to bring with you a sense of wonder as you explore new ideas with those around you; because there is no better venue for reflecting on past experiences and exploring new ideas than with your fellow peers and colleagues here at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

A glimpse into Daniel’s life at HGSE…

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Bill Damon (Stanford) and Howard Gardner discuss virtues and character during the 50th year anniversary of Project Zero.

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Yohannes Abraham, Dan Balz, Karen Finney, Jason Chaffetz, Sally Jewell, and Mark Strand square off on “Protests, Partisanship, and Fixing Politics” during a JFK Jr. Forum event at the Kennedy School.

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Typical view from a classroom window in October.

Blog and photos by Daniel T. Gruner

Daniel Gruner

Daniel T. Gruner is an Ed.M. candidate in the Specialized Studies Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is concurrently pursuing his PhD in Positive Developmental Psychology at Claremont Graduate University. As a member of SSP, Daniel is focusing on cognitive development, education policy, technology, and international human rights. His research synthesizes three overarching themes that fall at the intersection of young peoples’ engagement with learning, their development of moral and ethical sensibilities, and the broader sociopolitical institutions that shape daily human experience with particular emphasis on inequality, political freedom, and digital democracy.

 

 

 

Course Options at HGSE: An Embarrassment of Riches

What do Taco Bell, butterfly ballots, and union agency fees all have in common? (No, this is not a political joke.) These are all topics that, one way or another, have been covered by my classes at HGSE this week. Having researched my curricular options before I arrived on campus, I figured I would take a diverse array of courses during my time here. Never did I imagine, however, that I would be discussing Taco Bell’s effectiveness as a company in my entrepreneurial leadership class, analyzing the 2000 Presidential election using regression techniques in my statistics class, or debating the intricacies of agency fees in my policy class. The available courses here, in addition to their depth and breadth, truly stunned me, and if I could do this program three times over, I still would only scratch the surface of the list of incredible classes I want to take.

The Master’s program at HGSE is divided into thirteen cohorts, which run the gamut from Mind, Brain and Education to Technology in Education to School Leadership. Most cohorts require a few core courses, either prescribed specifically or to be chosen from pre-selected lists, but all leave plenty of room for electives. That flexibility, combined with the ability to cross register at the Kennedy, Law, and Business Schools, should have been the first indication of the plethora of options to which I was about to be exposed. It was not until Course Previews, though, when I was knee-deep in notes and open computer tabs, that I realized the extent of options available to us. For any education-related topic­­­ — program evaluation, urban schooling, prototyping, race theory, financial management, neurodevelopment — you name it, we got it. So, how did I tackle the daunting task of narrowing down my long desired list of fall courses to a mere four?

To begin with, I did some serious career research. The Career Services Office at HGSE offers wonderful resources for identifying your career goals, such as online workshops, virtual Q&A sessions, and gap identification methods. Participating in the gap identification process, for example, helped me realize that I should take a research methods course in order to gain necessary skills for research analyst positions. Next, I took full advantage of the Course Previews program. HGSE offers two days of Course Previews before the start of each semester, where each professor gives a 30-minute rundown of his or her course. These previews are a great way to see the professors’ teaching styles and get a better idea of the course content and expected workload (it’s good to know if your midterms would all be due on the same day, for example). Finally, the last step in picking my fall courses was talking to my advisor. HGSE pairs each of its students with a faculty member, whose job is to guide you academically throughout your year, and, if you’re lucky, provide free baked goods. My advisor has been extremely helpful, as, due to her years of student feedback, she could speak to the courses that were too similar to one another and the ones that overlapped slightly, yet still had important, nuanced differences.  

In the end, I settled on four classes that fit my professional, personal, and academic goals. I love waking up each morning knowing that my class discussions will challenge me, surprise me, and, no matter what, reinforce that I not only made the right decision in my course selections, but in my choosing of HGSE.

A glimpse into Stephanie’s life at HGSE…

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Stephanie recently attended a panel discussion with former White House Chiefs of Staff at the Harvard Kennedy School.

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HGSE students have access to all the libraries on campus. This is the inside of the Harvard Law School Library, where Stephanie spends a lot of her time studying.

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Post and photos by Stephanie Straus

An Ed.M. candidate in the Education Policy and Management program, Stephanie Straus is looking to pursue K-12 policy research positions post-HGSE. As a Cambridge veteran, she is happy to share her favorite running trails and dessert spots. 

 

 

 

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

Course Shopping

I started this semester completely indecisive. I couldn’t decide what courses to take or what career to pursue. As I talk with other HGSE students, it’s clear these are common problems in January. Luckily, HGSE provides plenty of resources to make these decisions easier. I still haven’t made any final career decisions (look out for a future post on that), but I was able to put a class schedule together that’s perfect for me thanks to course shopping.

Choosing a class schedule is so difficult because of the wealth of interesting course options. My program, Education Policy and Management, has relatively few requirements, and I had met those requirements in the Fall and January terms. That meant for Spring term, I had the option of taking almost any classes at any of the graduate schools at Harvard (or even beyond Harvard to schools like MIT). After browsing the course catalogue at HGSE and the other graduate schools, I had a good 25 classes I wanted to take. The abundance of choice can be overwhelming when you only have time to take 4 or 5.

shoppingThankfully, course shopping is held the week before classes start. At HGSE, course shopping is a two-day event where you have the opportunity to attend 45-minute sessions on any class that interests you. The session is led by the professor who teaches the course and gives you a chance to hear about the course structure, course goals, and an overview of the assignments. Shopping sessions also give you a good feel for a professor’s style. Each course has two sessions during the shopping period which makes it easy to fit every course you’ve been eyeing into your shopping schedule.

My experience with shopping has been that it’s incredibly helpful. That was especially true this semester when I lacked a solid idea of what I wanted. Like clothes shopping, there are some outfits that seem perfect in the store window, but once you try them on you realize the fit isn’t right. On the other hand, you may try something on as an afterthought that turns out to be perfect for you. Both of those phenomena happened to me this semester with my classes. Shopping also gave me chance to put together a diverse schedule of classes with different types of assignments and subject matter. My schedule now includes a politics class full of interesting speakers, a class where I will work on a design project for innovating teacher preparation, a statistics class, and a Harvard Kennedy School class examining inequality. I started shopping feeling overwhelmed and indecisive, but finished feeling excited about the semester ahead.

Another added benefit of shopping is that you get exposure to a wide array of classes and professors. If you find yourself here next year, go to as many shopping sessions as you can, even for classes you know you won’t take. Each session gives you a glimpse of what’s going on in different areas of the field and the chance to learn more about the professors here. You’ll also get a syllabus at each session, and I actually save those in case I want to refer to any readings in the future.

Course shopping may not have solved all my problems with making big decisions, but it certainly helped me make the most of my time on Appian Way!

Sara DeWolf is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Education Policy and Management program. She has experience as both a civil litigation attorney and a public school teacher. When she’s not at HGSE, you can find her playing with her daughters and exploring Boston.

J-Term: “Putting a new memory in the minds of children…”

Harvard Graduate School of Education, in collaboration with the other Harvard graduate schools, offers January term (J-term) courses. After I submitted my last final in mid-December, I turned off my laptop for a much needed rest–both for me, and my Mac–and I contemplated whether or not I wanted to extend my break as long as possible. I debated whether I should come back to campus a week earlier to participate in J-term. Thankfully, I did. I enrolled in Professor Joseph Kalt‘s PED 501M: Native Americans in the 21st Century: Nation Building I.

I sat in the same room for four consecutive six and a half-hour days with thirty minute breaks for lunch, and I wasn’t bored for a minute. We unpacked the history and contemporary truths of the myriad sovereign Native nations. Stories after stories: this course unearthed the marginalization, resilience, and preservation of Indian country, which was never shared at any checkpoint of my k-12 or college education. PED 501M made me stop and think: how is it that none of my history courses ever talked about the sovereignty of the indigenous with reverence? This reminded me of the theory I learned in Professor Karen Mapp‘s course, Leadership in Social Change Organization, ‘asset’ versus ‘deficit’ models of thinking. I was socialized to see the deficit of Natives in my educational upbringing, never their cultural capital, which is not only in absolute abundance but in incredible nuance distinguished by tribes. Meanwhile, Professor Kalt shared a quote from an elder Native about the self-determination towards “putting a new memory in the minds of children.”

I ended up jotting down a series of quotes that will be prompts on my future journals:

  • “Even wolves have a constitution” (partially in reference to the projection of Native ‘savagery’) .
  • “I believe that friend, family, and foe should be treated equally.”
  • “Self-esteem is the ability to stop the endless loop of checking if your reasoning is true–not just reasoning, but your reasoning about your reasoning.”
  • “Education is your greatest weapon. With education, you are the white man’s equal, without education you are his victim and so shall remain all of your lives. Study, learn, help one another always. Remember there is only poverty and misery in idleness and dreams – but in work there is self-respect and independence.” -Chief Plenty Coups
  • “A sense of entitlement is one of the most dangerous things of all.”
  • “We don’t ‘eat the seed corn'” – Tribal Chairman John “Rocky” Barrett
  • “Growing up, I had about 70 first cousins–that’s a lot. Now, I have about less than 30 still alive.”

J-term revived my spirits and prepared my mind to dive back into next semester with hype. If in 11 months, you’re debating whether you should register for J-term as you’re binging Game of Thrones for the third time because you’re thoroughly convinced you learn more about EVERY character–I say commit. Plan to return in early January with your heavy coat, and be prepared to install a major intellectual update.

Taaha Mohamedali is a Master’s of Education candidate in Higher Education. Prior to enrolling at Harvard, Taaha was an admissions officer coordinating efforts to improve access for marginalized groups at Lafayette College.  He hopes to improve transitional support structures for these groups in the years to come. His passions include spoken word, comedy, and rock, paper, scissors.

Taking Advantage of J-Term

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One of the many amazing things about being a student at HGSE is the flexibility you have in creating your schedule. January term (or “J-term” as its called more frequently) is a great example. J-term is a three-week period in January that offers both for-credit and noncredit opportunities. It is entirely optional, and many students opt to take the month off to recharge. Others choose to take advantage of the courses, workshops and lectures offered. I decided to use J-term to take a 2-credit course, and I am so glad I came back to Cambridge to spend this chilly January in the warm halls of HGSE!

My J-term course is Elements of Effective Family-School Partnerships with Dr. Karen Mapp. As has been the case with all my HGSE courses, I find the course content and professor incredibly interesting and inspiring. What makes J-term unique is that it has allowed me to take a deep dive into one subject area without the buzz of distractions that accompany the regular semester. Being able to focus my time and energy on one class has made it a meaningful learning experience despite the short duration of the course (it only meets six times). And, as always, it is an excellent opportunity to meet and hear perspectives from more of my amazing classmates.

If you find yourself at HGSE next year, be sure to consider returning to campus for J-term. I think I speak for most Ed.M. candidates when I say that we share a fear of missing out on the wealth of opportunities Harvard has to offer. J-term is a great way to calm that fear and add something into your schedule that may not fit into the Spring or Fall. It is just one more way to make the most out of your year at HGSE!

Sara DeWolf is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Education Policy and Management program. She has experience as both a civil litigation attorney and a public school teacher. When she’s not at HGSE, you can find her playing with her daughters and exploring Boston.

Q&A with Gabi and Arpi

 

Many of the programs at HGSE overlap in course requirements and student interests. We (Gabi and Arpi) are in two related masters programs – Human Development and Psychology and Mind, Brain, and Education, respectively, and have many shared and unique experiences from our first semester that we would love to share with you through this combined Q&A between bloggers.

Q#1: What is your favorite place to go study?

Gabi (HDP): I’m not sure if it’s my favorite place, more of a love-hate relationship, but you can always find me at the Cronkhite reading room, hahaha! It is our dorm room study lounge, very cozy, almost always silent and occasionally we have guests who bring treats and great stories. One place I would like to explore more is the Music Department Library – it has a homey feel, with nice curtains, long wooden desks and chairs that have harps carved in them. I really liked the day I spent over there.

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Arpi (MBE): Apart from the Cronkhite reading room, I love the first floor of Gutman Library. The first floor is designated a collaborative space, so you’ll often run into classmates and cohort members working on their next big project and getting excited about their work. The cafe is also a few steps away from the study area and is quite the hidden gem of graduate school cafes at Harvard. I especially loved that during finals, the Dean’s office and Office of Student Life also provided everyone with free coffee and tea in the library! They certainly know how to support us in a stressful academic time.

Q#2: What is the coolest event you have attended here so far?

Gabi (HDP): There have been so many cool events around here! I enjoyed the Student Night offered by the Harvard Art Museum. In addition to the tours, which were lovely, they had snacks inspired by the art collections, printed replicas of art pieces which you could rent to show in your own room and temporary tattoos of art pieces. I would crack myself up every time I looked at my ankle and saw Van Gogh’s face.

Arpi (MBE): My favorite event this semester was the Harvard-Yale game, hands down! HGSE organized a fun tailgate with breakfast in the morning, after which my cohort sat together in the graduate student section, all decked out in Harvard gear. I haven’t quite found a better word to sum up the experience other than as a “phenomenon.” I have never seen so much school pride in one stadium (from both teams), and although Harvard lost, it was such a fun few hours away from our pre-finals workload!

 

Q#3: What did you do this semester that you never thought you would do?

 

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Gabi’s electrical circuit.

Gabi (HDP): I never thought I would ever build an electrical circuit! In one of our classes, Designing for Learning by Creating, we had one amazing guest from the MIT Media Lab who guided us through the process of making a simple circuit with an LED and I was surprised at how easy and accessible it was! Watching my circuit light up filled me with joy and pride.

 

Arpi (MBE): I never thought I would willingly and enjoyably stay up until the early hours of the morning to finish a class project. The professors instill you with such motivation and excitement to complete your work, which often has potential for real-world application (or is actually being applied!)

Q#4: How did you choose your Ed.M. program at HGSE?

Gabi (HDP): I knew that I wanted to study creativity, so I found out where scholars who studied creativity were, and a lot of them worked in Psychology programs inside Education schools. In addition to that, I was very interested in the idea of creativity as a process that develops over time, while we evolve as human beings. So the Human Development and Psychology program was the only one that made sense to me.

Arpi (MBE): I’m broadly interested in cognition and cognitive development, and wanted to gain a holistic understanding of how the brain develops and how we learn. Because my background is in the natural sciences, I wanted to not only continue studying this from a neuroscience end, but also gain perspective from the psychology and education fields. The MBE program was perfect for me to explore all of these fields and grapple with them equally for my research interest.

Q#5: What do you wish people knew about the HGSE cohort?

Gabi (HDP): I wish they knew how diverse the cohort is; there is no recipe for what an HGSE student is like. It is comforting for me to see that everyone is insecure about one thing or another. At the same time, everyone has so much knowledge to share. I’m probably learning as much from my peers as I am from my professors!

Arpi (MBE): I hope everyone knows that the HGSE experience is unique for each person as well. There is no singular experience or path to take here, or next step to take after HGSE. It makes for such a vibrant community and shows that everyone has an important voice to contribute to the field of education.

 

Arpi Youssoufian is a masters candidate in the Mind, Brain, and Education program. A biologist by training, she is fascinated by the classic nature-nurture debate in the context of learning development, and wishes she could take every class in the HGSE course book. She hopes to pursue either a neuroscience doctoral program or medical school to bridge research and practice in the future.

Gabriela Talarico is passionate about creativity, self-regulation, education, and qualitative research. She joins HGSE from Brazil as a Jorge Paulo Lemann Fellow and is currently a Master’s in Education Candidate in the Human Development and Psychology Program.

Looking back at a Semester of belonging.

I remember this time last year, being still unsure of the exact route I wanted my career to take and of my shortlisted colleges that somehow seemed to lead up to that. A compulsive curiosity to know everything I can so I can get a “feel” of it, I had just spent 7 hours straight watching videos from HGSE, trying to see if I could picture myself there. I was far from convinced. Until I came across a goofy “Stories from Appian Way” video about a man in search of a Harvard bag. In that video-marathon-induced delirium, I thought that was the most hilarious thing I had seen in a while. More importantly though, something about that told me, I would fit in. From then on, in the admissions process, it was mostly just trying to put into words why as I completed my application essays, knowing in my gut that this was the only place I wanted to really go.

A year later, after having gotten 7 hours of sleep for the first time after 3 weeks of finals, that gut feeling is probably what has still stayed with me. It’s been a semester of moments like that. That warmth in the belly that comes from knowing I belong. I don’t know how else to describe the roller-coaster of a semester it’s been – unlearning and relearning everything I have known about the world, learning about all the possibilities of the people I could be, and finding out that each one of those seems to find comfortable belonging here.

It’s a montage of moments like these that I would send to the me a year ago to ease all that anxiety: Sitting by the mound outside Gutman Library in the first month here, basking in the sun, discussing the belief systems we brought here, and watching them unfold as we added layers from each others’ experiences. Sitting in the massive T-550 class, rediscovering everything I have known about learning, and arranging these aha-moments collectively on post-its. Hearing 140 students stand up in the Public Narratives class, describe their stories and hope in 10 seconds one after the other. Reflecting on my “researcher” identity at the end of “Interviewing for Qualitative research” class, and hearing back from the professor with personalized comments in response. Coming clean to my statistics professor about my fear for stats, and have him respond most reassuringly, putting my learning at the center of the conversation. “I want you to walk away comfortable with stats”, as he always said. Sharing lessons and ideas from a semester with my cohort in a formal event, and having them write back with suggestions, feedback, links and resources, as well as wise words of encouragement; and learning things as varied as race theory to blacksmithing at the event. Coffee dates with classmates as we mutually reflect on the questions we picked up from our classes, and finding their connections for further exploration in the answers we also found there. Specialized Studies Fridays, where we have strung together our thoughts from the week as a cohort over a few beers. Beverages and “everything-you-know”-altering conversations in general. Having a panic attack in the middle of the library the week before finals, only to be hugged until I was calm again (and fed cookies) by a fellow classmate I have barely spoken to before, who turned out to be a secret ninja in the subject I was panicking about, willing to tutor me even in the middle of all her own madness. Finding words to my feelings and getting over my fear of the camera at the same time as I recorded my story for “Double Take”, and then ugly crying after being immensely moved by the stories others shared at the school-wide Double-Take event. Making sense of the elections through origami and art as much as through informed conversations and community meetings. Dancing to Bollywood music in the library the week before finals. The Dean serving us Thanksgiving lunch. Meeting the “bag-guy” from the aforementioned video, telling him how that video changed my decision, which led to a conversation brainstorming ways to take ahead the project I worked on over the summer.

 

The first thing we were told in our cohort orientation was, “Everything here is for the asking, all you have to do is ask”. A semester later, I see what that means. It’s been a semester of being exposed to just an unbelievable wealth of wisdom. It has been enriching in ways that has expanded my brain in directions I didn’t previously know existed.  Of having access to the people I had been studying for so long (and I am not talking only about “I almost dropped coffee on them on my way to school” kind of access); access that is comfortable enough to go in with my unformed questions and coming out with multiple pathways of discovery opened up before me. Of meeting people, who, along with having the wisest wisdom and a whole range of stories to share, are also people who you can count on to genuinely care. People filled with a certain kind of optimism, the kind which draws them to think of changing the world through education, and have them actively engage with me with that in tow. And of finding my place within it, a place that’s evolving, with a kind of faith that no matter the expansion or shape-shifting, there will still be room for it. Of learning about “asking” as an act of belonging within it.

As one of my professors once said in class, “Be a wedge in the door. And then find the community of such wedges in the doors to help open them for you”. What that girl watching those 7 hours of video didn’t know last year, is that this is what perhaps makes this place what it is, that warmth of belonging from cultivating relationships that are as much about laughter as about learning. That community of wedges in the doors, helping each other grow and evolve as they figure out their place in the world they want to create.

Jayati Doshi is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Specialized Studies Program. She is currently exploring what happens when we look at living as an act of learning, and what educating for that would look like. 

Looking Back Over the Semester

I can’t believe the semester is over…. Here are a few of my highlights!

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First day at my internship! This internship has been an amazing experience. I was welcomed with open arms and I have had a chance to learn, practice, and improve my school leadership skills!

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Arts in Education (AIE) students chose to do a project on changing the negative narrative of menstruation. They hosted a period party where we created art work and discussed our own narratives around periods. Both males and females attended and we all engaged in rich discussion! more information can be found on their website, People Have Periods, including my own period story.

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Gallery opening night for R.E.A.L. Talk Exhibit

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Tabling for the Alumni of Color Conference with one of my fellow Tri-Chairs.

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Me with Dr. Higgins on the last day of class.

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Some members of my cohort after our consultancy group with The Principal Center’s Advisory Board. I was also fortunate to complete the Mannequin Challenge with my SLP cohort and The Principal’s Center Advisory Board. It was an epic moment to incorporate work and play with principals from around the country!

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Resting Pitch Face-My cohort softball team!

 

Good times tailgating for the Harvard vs. Yale football game!

I’ve been blessed to have so many good times and memories that I will cherish forever.

Rashaida Melvin is a Master’s of Education candidate in the School Leadership Program. She has taught for three years and is excited about moving from the classroom into leadership. Rashaida is looking forward to serving both teachers and students in the future.