Category Archives: Extracurriculars

The 15th Annual Alumni of Color Conference

On March 2-4, I had the honor of chairing the 15th Annual Alumni of Color Conference (AOCC) with the theme Define. Defy. Dismantle: Forging Our Legacy Through Activism. It was hands down the most rewarding experience for me as a student at HGSE. Five months of planning came together for a weekend filled with social activism. We had over 700 registered participants which consisted of students, faculty, staff, alumni, youth, scholars, and citizens from across the country. We had 7 keynote speakers, a special guest, and about 45 workshops over the course of six breakout sessions.

As a Tri-Chair, I was tasked with turning an idea into a full 3 day conference. Before this year, the largest event I planned was a male scholarship pageant through my sorority (Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.) in undergrad. I had never planned a conference before and was honestly unaware of all it would take to successfully execute this conference. I quickly found out the amount of work, dedication, and sacrifice it would take and I am truly appreciative of the phenomenal leadership team that helped make this conference possible.

On Thursday, March 2, Dr. Peter T. Keo provided a kickoff for the conference. He gave a speech that energized participants and excited the crowd about what was to come over the course of the weekend. Many participants commented on the appreciation of hearing a man of Asian descent speak about dismantling racism from a perspective that is often not highlighted.

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Dr. Keo with the Tri-Chairs (from left to right: Kimberly Osagie, Rashaida Melvin, Alfatah Moore)

Friday, there were three breakout sessions and an Askwith Forum. The Askwith forum titled “Take Action: Advancing Justice and Equity in Today’s Climate” was composed of keynote speakers Dr. Arshad I. Ali, Ed.M.’04, Assemblyman Michael A. Blake, Albino Garcia, Jr., and Simran Noor with Christina “V” Villarreal, Ed.M.’05 moderating the panel. We also gave the Courage Award to the Denver Broncos’ linebacker Brandon Marshall for having the strength to fight for justice in regards to police brutality.

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From left to right: Christina “V” Villarreal, Assemblyman Michael Blake, Albino Garcia, Simran Noor, and Dr. Arshad Ali.

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Brandon Marshall with the AOCC Tri-Chairs

For a full video of the Askwith Forum, check out the live video on the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Facebook page from March 3rd. Also, check out this article I am featured in about the conference and specifically the Askwith Forum.
On Saturday, we had three more breakout sessions, a conversation with Brandon Marshall, granted three awards, and welcomed two additional keynote speakers: Dr. Rhonda Williams and Dr. Bettina Love. All of the speakers were phenomenal. Dr. Williams used spoken word to defy systems of oppression and Dr. Love discussed her curriculum on hip-hop education and fired up the crowd as she provided ways to dismantle oppression in education. I am beyond proud of the final product of AOCC 2017. It will be my greatest memory and experience at HGSE.

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Dr. Rhonda Williams, keynote speaker.

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Myself and Dr. Bettina Love (Fun Fact: Dr. Love is a professor at the same university I attended for my bachelor’s degree, The University of Georgia!)

I would love to help recruit the next Master’s Tri-Chair for AOCC 2018! I can give you the ins and outs of the planning process. I had to make sacrifices and give up a lot of free time because of this conference, but it was the BEST decision I made as a student here at HGSE.   

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AOCC Tri-Chairs with Tracie Jones from the Office of Student Affairs

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.

Community Building with “The Bachelor”

As you might imagine, Harvard is a place filled with really intelligent and driven people. Most times I can feel my IQ increasing just from walking around campus and taking in bits of conversation as I go. I’m grateful for the wealth of knowledge and expertise that exists in the people I get to interact with everyday—it’s a major reason why I chose to attend HGSE. Still, remembering that these very brilliant people are also just regular people, with regular-people interests, is such a comfort. I’m reminded this every Monday night, when a group of us Harvard students meet to watch The Bachelor.

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Being someone who has avoided the entire Bachelor franchise prior to this current season, I have to admit that when my friends Kathryn (HDP ‘17) and Manya (PSP ‘17) invited me to watch, I scoffed at the idea. Though, because they’d be watching the show in the TV room of our dorm, the Cronkhite Center, I figured there was no harm in moseying down to the basement for two hours of levity.

I was surprised to see a solid group of people in the room that first Monday night, and as the weeks progressed—and the number of roses being given lessened—our Bachelor-watching posse grew. Students from across the Harvard graduate schools were convening around our TV to see what Corinne said or did and make predictions about who Nick would and wouldn’t end up with. And I, who was at first a hostile viewer, found myself (gasp!) looking forward to these Monday night gatherings—partially for the show, which is both entertaining and ridiculous, but mostly for the community.

While this season and semester are drawing to a close, I realize that I’m really going to miss Monday night community-building with The Bachelor. On the bright side, however, the next season of The Bachelorette is right around the corner and I will almost certainly be watching.

Monique Hall is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Technology, Innovation, and Education program. She is passionate about children’s media, ice cream, and educational equity.

 

True Life: I’m a Graduate Student at Harvard

My Monday Schedule:

7:45 am: Wake up, get ready for class

8:30 am: Leave the house and walk to HGSE

9:00 am-12:00 pm: Attend class

12:00-12:30 pm: Meet with my fellow Tri-Chairs about the Alumni of Color Conference

12:30-4:00 pm: Eat lunch, prepare for class, attend office hours, chat with friends

4:00-7:00 pm: Attend class

7:30 pm-1:00 am: Eat dinner, prepare to go to my internship the next day, complete assignments, read for class, job search, talk to family, self-care

This is a typical Monday schedule for me. I would consider this to be a calm day. One in which I do not have very many meetings and everything goes as planned. Of course, that rarely happens. During my time here at HGSE, I have been challenged beyond what I thought was possible. I have taken on many responsibilities and tasks that, at many times, make me feel as if I am being pulled in every direction. But I like this! There are so many opportunities and I am trying to take advantage of as many as possible.

Q: What do you like best about being a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education?

A: I like being surrounded by the community members at HGSE. Everyday I am learning from and with people who have done amazing things in their lives and careers. I love how humble everyone is about their accomplishments. I could be sitting next to someone who has started multiple businesses or who raises money to support kids internationally, and would never know it because people at the Ed school aren’t about competing with each other. We all just want to do what is best for kids!

Q: What is most challenging about being at HGSE?

A: Trying to do everything I possibly can in one year – and do it all well. I can honestly say that I have tried to take as much as possible from HGSE. Everyday I ask myself, “How can I take more from this experience?” I push myself to think beyond the classroom. The classroom is great, but there are so many other things to take from HGSE that is outside the classroom, and outside of HGSE as well.

Q: Did you feel prepared to come to HGSE?

A: After coming here and realizing how strategic people were in the things they wanted to see and do, I realized that I was not prepared. I was trying to figure things out as I went. Other people who knew exactly which professors they wanted to learn from, which organizations they wanted to be a member of, and how they wanted to impact the HGSE community. I didn’t. I just knew that I wanted to come here and make a name for myself and do something that would make HGSE and myself proud. That was my goal. Of course, I wanted to expand my network and learn from amazing people. But I knew I would only feel that I conquered this experience if I left a lasting mark on this school. Do I think I have positioned myself to do this? I am proud to say yes. Absolutely!

Q: Looking back, what might you have done before coming to HGSE to be more prepared?

A: If I could go back to last summer, I would have used my time more wisely. I would have actually planned out all of the opportunities I wanted to explore as well as the tangible deliverables of my time here. I feel as if there are resources that I am just now tapping into that would have been amazing to experience back in September or October. I then remind myself that it is impossible to do everything and that I have taken on a lot of responsibilities. I know that everything is working out in perfect timing and exactly as it should be. I take comfort in this. I realize that I am only one person and I cannot do everything, even though I try.

Q: What have you learned at HGSE that you will use beyond Appian Way?

A: I’ve learned so much! There is plenty to learn in the classroom and through internships. But what I have learned the most beyond that is about building my brand. Soon I will have this degree and will be back into the work to change the world. How am I going to use my knowledge to help others? How am I going to make a name for myself as a leader in education? These are things that I have learned outside the classroom through conversations with colleagues and friends. This is my focus as I progress through the semester and to graduation. At this moment in my program, I have realized that all of the work I have done here is great, but I have to keep working. I have to keep striving. I have to keep pressing.

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.

Soak it All Up

The realization of how little time I have left at HGSE hit me hard at the beginning of second semester. I have learned so much here, and there is so much more I want to soak up before I graduate. Luckily, there is no shortage of fantastic speakers and events. Here is a glimpse at some of the education leaders I’ve had a chance to learn from over the past few weeks.

At the beginning of the month, I attended a lecture series with Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, a distinguished professor at HGSE who is the first African-American woman in Harvard’s history to have an endowed professorship named in her honor. The series focused on three of Dr. Lawrence-Lightfoot’s books, and examined the relationships parents have with their children and with their children’s teachers. Having played all three roles of teacher, parent and child myself, I was intensely interested in the subject matter. I was also both moved and inspired by Dr. Lawrence-Lightfoot’s storytelling abilities. The series was a great opportunity to learn from a professor I may not have been exposed to otherwise.

Last week, I got three chances to glean some wisdom from Kaya Henderson, the former Chancellor of DC Public Schools who made amazing gains in the district during her tenure. First, we had an Education Policy and Management cohort meeting with her that was set up as a “fireside chat.” The day after the cohort meeting, I attended an Askwith Forum featuring Dr. Henderson called Driving Change: Challenges Superintendents Face in Urban Schools. Askwith forums are public lectures put on by HGSE that feature a wide range of topics and often include panels or interviews with prominent leaders in the education field. This Askwith panel also included two other well-known successful district leaders, Tom Boasberg, Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, and Tommy Chang, Superintendent of Boston Public Schools. Then I got a final chance to learn from Kaya Henderson when she attended my Politics and Education Change class.

Kaya Henderson is just the tip of the iceberg with speakers I have been exposed to through my Politics and Education change class, taught by Chris Gabrieli. Other class speakers over the past few weeks have included John King, former U.S. Secretary of Education, Josh Delaney (EPM ’14), education policy advisor for Senator Elizabeth Warren, Charles Barone, policy director for Democrats for Education Reform, and Neerav Kingsland, former CEO for New Schools for New Orleans.

These are really just a small fraction of the events and lectures I could have attended this month – HGSE and the other graduate schools at Harvard have a never-ending stream of influential people lined up to speak to students. The hard part is choosing what to attend with a limited amount of hours in the day. In the few months I have left, hopefully I’ll be able to attend as many events and soak up as much wisdom as I can!

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 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.

Mushroom Learnings: Other People’s Projects

 

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My mushroom!

HGSE is full of projects. I’m currently working on a case study designing a teacher-led plan to stem teacher attrition in a school, a memo detailing how you could bring digital teacher coaching to a rural state, a proposal for a deeper-learning after school program targeting upper elementary ELLs, and a research-based rewrite of civics education to account for social media. When I came, I expected to learn a lot through doing these practice-based projects, and I am. 

What I didn’t realize I’d be learning from is other’s projects. Often people need participants to make their projects work, and being the caring friends we are, we step in for activities or focus groups or experiments. It’s been a way to sample classes I’m not in. One led to a really probing, affirming discussion the day after the election about the different ways race enters the classroom teaching in homogeneous communities and I left with a lot of new ideas, new resources, and a better understanding of what I want professionally going forward. She got quotes and I developed a life plan — fair trade. 

The most unexpected one I’ve taken part in is spore prints. It’s for T-550, “Designing for Learning by Creating.” The class is a big presence here — 150+ people, donuts before every meeting, a strong social media game — and I’m not in it. Check out @TFiveFifty or #tfivefifty on Instagram or Twitter to get a sampling and be jealous alongside me. 

Everybody has to design something, and somebody in my cohort is trying to cultivate observation and wonder through mushrooms. I couldn’t attend the walk-in-the-woods day, but I did have a lovely lunch where we observed wild mushrooms using all of our senses. We looked more closely with microscopes you could attach to your phone and finished by leaving the caps face-down on paper overnight to make a spore print. It turns out mushrooms secrete something that colors paper. Who knew? Not me!

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My spore print in the upper left and illustrations of my mushroom underside from various angles, including the cut-off stem.

Taking the time to stop, look, and wonder at something I’ve literally never thought about was a gift I didn’t know I needed. I had so much on my plate that day and almost didn’t go, but the experience was calming in the moment, taught me something about how mushrooms work, and has me looking at everyday objects differently. My final product is taped on my wall in my bedroom as a reminder to pause, be curious, and take advantage of all the wonderfully weird, wonderfully unexpected chances that come my way this year.

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A closeup. I took 15ish pictures of my mushroom using a microscope that fits on your smartphone and lets you take pictures. They’re like $10!

Becca Schouvieller is in the Instructional Leadership strand for experienced teachers within the Learning & Teaching program. She taught social studies in Maine for six years and is excited about civic education, rural education, college access and preparation, working within existing schools to improve teaching quality, and finding the best breakfast sandwich in Cambridge.

Did I really just spend my weekend on a just-for-fun group project?: HIVE HackED

I chose HGSE in part for exposure to different ways of thinking about education than the small district, public high school perspective I’ve spent the last six years with. Being able to approach challenges in different ways is powerful, and I wanted a graduate program that had breadth as well as depth. HGSE’s range of cohorts and position within a larger university gives access to both, but in the day-to-day of pursuing your own priorities and completing assignments, I can sometimes forget about that.

That’s why the HIVE HackED event of last weekend was so cool (plus they fed me two lunches and a dinner, not to be discounted). Until this, the word “hackathon” conjured up a dark room and code for me. While technology is a part of it, it’s really more a compressed group project. Our challenge was to design something that would address some problem within education and be ready to pitch our solution and its business model to a panel of judges — in about six hours of work. They gave awards for most innovative, best business prospects, and largest impact. As a teacher, thinking about words like “market research” and “B2B” (a Business that sells TO a Business, which is different than business-to-consumer, or business-to-education) is completely foreign. 

This all took place at the Harvard iLab, which exists as a gathering place for innovators and entrepreneurs and is located on the Harvard Business School campus. It’s a magical place full of snacks and whiteboards and moveable furniture.

Here’s a look at the process:

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We started the by brainstorming every possible problem of education on a post-it. Then we grouped the post-its by category and had speed-dating time to find people who were concerned about the same issues as we were and form groups. I hadn’t met anybody I worked with before the weekend.

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Our group found a meeting room and wrote all over the walls about our problems, customer (or “use case”), and vision. Our idea looked to help high school students explore different career pathways outside of school. After laying out the big picture, we broke apart into a “business” group that tried to build a case for our product, and a “design” group that worked on developing what this looked like more closely. There was a lot of coffee, tea, and M&Ms in this process.

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There were also speakers the first night about design thinking and the second day about educational entrepreneurship. More tea.

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After about seven hours of work on Saturday (plus the panels), we came back together on Sunday to make our pitches. This isn’t my group, but these guys did win “Best Business Model.”

Our group didn’t win anything, but it was more about the process (though obviously I’d be saying something different if we had gotten a prize, made by the 3D printer at the iLab). Even though I didn’t get around to grocery shopping or laundry this weekend, I’m glad I did this because:

  • I learned a ton about the realities of entrepreneurship. I like certainty waaay too much for that to be a career path for me, but I have a better understanding of the people and process behind some of the tools I use and the pitches I’ll hear in the future (and now I’ll look less longingly at ping-pong playing start-ups).
  • Specifically, I went in thinking this would be about designing the best possible idea. While that mattered, I underestimated the importance of market research. After building our own presentation and hearing the judges ask questions, I even found myself asking “But what’s the business model? How is this going to make money?” during the last few presentations. I’ve literally never said those words before. New mindsets!
  • This was a great practice in working through something with a team, a skill I didn’t develop as a classroom teacher.
  • I thought big, creative thoughts about education problems. Schools are bureaucracies, and I’m used to being bound by reality and practicality. It was refreshing to be pushed outside the box.
  • I really got to know people I hadn’t had the chance to interact with, both from HGSE and from other schools.

I’m looking forward to relaxing and socializing (and reading) this weekend,  but this was a fantastic way to emerge from the quotidian by going deep into something new, and the experience really showcased some of the compelling reasons for me for choosing HGSE, including the snacks and post-its.

Becca Schouvieller is in the Instructional Leadership strand for experienced teachers within the Learning & Teaching program. She taught social studies in Maine for six years and is excited about civic education, rural education, college access and preparation, working within existing schools to improve teaching quality, and finding the best breakfast sandwich in Cambridge.

An Abundance of Opportunities!

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When you come to Harvard, it seems as if you have a world of opportunities presented to you. Well, that’s because you actually do! In any given week, Harvard Graduate School of Education will have multiple activities taking place. These events take on different forms and can be lectures, panels, forums, debates, and even discussions. Askwith is an enriching part of HGSE that provides programming with informative educational issues. Some of the topics this year were:

One of the most enriching experiences I have had so far, in regards to bridging the gap between classwork and speakers, stemmed from Monica Higgins“Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Learning” class. We recently studied a case about Ferguson, Missouri. This case discussed the various ways the three surrounding school districts handled the killing of Michael Brown. The current superintendent of  Ferguson-Florissant School District, Joe Davis (HGSE Ed.D. ‘08) spoke to my class and then engaged in an open conversation with the HGSE community. During this conversation, I was inspired by how personable Dr. Davis is and how humbled he is as a leader. I think moments like these are such valuable learning experiences. Although it is impossible to attend every event offered, it is important to pencil a few of these discussions into your schedule. They create a learning experience beyond the classroom.

So how do you find out about all of these opportunities? The Office of Student Affairs sends out a list of the week’s events every Monday at noon. This is the best way to know about events taking place at HGSE. Posters and flyers of the events can be found around campus as well as in the lobby of Gutman Library. For events outside of HGSE, I usually find out through word of mouth, Facebook events, and flyers posted in Harvard Yard.

No matter how you find out about an event, it is always important to push yourself to go! As a Master’s student, you are only here for a year, so make the most of the opportunity! This is such a rich academic community, use it to your advantage!

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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. 

Resources Abound!

Graduate School is synonymous with one of those crazy fun (but also terrifying) roller coasters that knocks the wind out of you while you’re on it, but as you get off you immediately crave more—more knowledge, more time with your peers, and more (let’s be honest) free food. We’re at that mid-point time during the semester where papers seem to pile up, readings feel like they never end, and free time is more of a distant memory.

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In addition to the demands of school, many students’ stress level can be affected even more by family expectations, financial concerns, identity, mental health, and the general woes of adjustment. Consequently, it’s always important to ensure that we are caring for our most valuable asset, ourselves. Luckily, there are many ways to engage in self-care practices at Harvard that don’t require a huge time commitment and address the many facets of identity.

Below are some ideas and resources for engaging in self-care, while also rockin’ graduate school.

  1. Find an affinity group

    HGSE has plenty of ways to get involved and build support networks. Don’t do everything, but do something. I’m currently one of the Co-Chairs for the Native American student group, FIERCE (Future Indigenous Educators Resisting Colonial Education). Although that adds a little more to my plate, it’s an extraordinary way to decompress and do work that is meaningful to me and my own identity.

(See a list of recognized organizations here: http://osa.gse.harvard.edu/currently-recognized-organizations)

  1. Exercise

Four words– Barre at the MAC. But, if those four words don’t make you want to dust off your workout gear, Harvard has plenty of resources to stay active that you can take advantage of as an HGSE student.

Yoga: http://cw.uhs.harvard.edu/programs/yoga.html

Dance: http://ofa.fas.harvard.edu/dance-non-credit-classes

Harvard Recreation: http://recreation.gocrimson.com/recreation/membership/graduate

Basically, the possibilities are endless.

  1. Adult Coloring Books

If you’ve yet to explore this world, I highly recommend it.

  1. Meditation

Getting started: http://cw.uhs.harvard.edu/mindfulness/index.html

  1. Put down social media

Seriously, you do not need to watch yet another Facebook video of someone getting killed or read everyone and their dog’s political opinions. A little break from screen time in general can be good for the soul.

  1. Keep track of compliments

When someone gives you a compliment, write it in a journal or keep it in your notes on your phone—when you’re having a hard day, re-read them.

  1. Admit when you need help

Go to office hours, make that writing center or research librarian appointment, or go talk to someone about the non-academic things you are struggling with. There is no shame in admitting you don’t have it all figured out.

Academic help: http://bsc.harvard.edu/ or http://www.gse.harvard.edu/osa/access-and-disability-services

Help with that paper: https://www.gse.harvard.edu/library/services

When you need someone to talk to: https://huhs.harvard.edu/services/counseling-and-mental-health

At the end of the day, HGSE is a mind-blowing and wonderful experience–one that is worth the endless reading, midterm papers, and rapid growth. However, learning to change the world requires attention to your own needs and limitations as well.

Kaci McClure is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Language and Literacy program. Her primary passions are increasing literacy skills among high school students; addressing inequity in low-income, largely minority schools; and culturally responsive teaching. A transplant out of Louisiana who originally hails from Texas, Kaci has an affinity for sweet tea, spicy food, and the word “y’all.” She’s also an avid supporter of conscious rap and frybread, neither correlated to the other but both very powerful.