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Centering Student Stories: Emily Bond, L&L'21

The Intellectual Contribution Award recipient for Language and Literacy reflects on her time at HGSE and looks toward the future.
L&L cohort ilustrations in front of Longfellow

Emily Bond: "This picture was created by another student in the language and literacy program and shows bitmojis of (most of) our cohort in front of Longfellow Hall. It has been the desktop background on my computer all year."

Photo courtesy of Emily Bond

The Intellectual Contribution Award recognizes 12 Ed.M. students (one from each Ed.M. program) whose dedication to scholarship enhanced HGSE’s academic community and positively affected fellow students. Emily Bond will be honored with the Intellectual Contribution Award for Language and Literacy (L&L) at HGSE's Virtual Commencement on May 27.

Senior Lecturer Pamela Mason, faculty director of L&L, comments on Bond's selection: “Emily’s enthusiasm for learning about literacy is evident in her interactions with her peers and with the faculty by her thoughtful questions and her active participation in small group discussion. She is focused on being an effective literacy teacher for her students, having designed a cohesive literacy curriculum from scratch. Consequently, Emily has deeply investigated the elements of literacy curriculum for both national and global contexts. She has taken an inquiry stance in class, actively connecting the theories and practices of literacy teaching and applying them to typically developing, multilingual, and learners with identified special needs. Emily has been generous in sharing her insights in class discussions and in small group work, respecting multiple ways of knowing, being, and doing, contributing to everyone’s learning through her thoughtful questions about and synthesis of course material.”

We spoke to Bond about her time at HGSE, her future plans, and how the pandemic has changed the education landscape:

What does this photo mean to you?  

This picture was created by another student in the Language and Literacy Program and shows bitmojis of (most of) our cohort in front of Longfellow Hall. It has been the desktop background on my computer all year. One of the things I was most worried about with a virtual learning experience was that I would not have the chance to connect with my classmates on a personal level. However, I quickly realized how many of my peers also shared the desire to build connections beyond our virtual classrooms. While building relationships online takes a little extra effort and creativity, I have been so grateful to the commitment of the language and literacy cohort to build a collaborative and supportive learning community. We have had cohort-wide study halls, book clubs, and game nights. We’ve made pen-pals, hosted happy hours, and maintained a lively GroupMe chat. While this year has looked a little different than I’d initially envisioned, seeing this image every time I login to my computer has been a reminder that even while we aren’t together, we are still connected.

In this year of remote learning, what were some of the ways you were able to connect with your peers?

The student community was a huge part of the reason I was initially drawn to HGSE. Having classes with students from so many different countries, backgrounds, and experiences within the world of education has been such an integral part of my learning. I’ve loved the opportunity to collaborate with educators with backgrounds different than my own. It’s easy to feel isolated while Zooming into classes by myself. The many opportunities to connect virtually — while occasionally exhausting — have helped me feel connected to the greater HGSE community. Language Café, hosted by Dr. Catherine Snow for the Language and Literacy cohort, has been a particular bright spot in my weekly schedule this year. This consistent chance to gather and discuss the wonders and oddities of language in a low-stakes, high-interest setting has been an absolute delight.

Is there any professor or class that significantly shaped your experience at the Ed School?

It’s so difficult to name just one — every class offered new ideas and perspectives! The Language and Literacy series was perhaps my favorite set of classes; each module helped me deepen and broaden my understanding of language development and literacy acquisition. In fact, a final project from Dr. Rowe’s language and literacy module inspired an independent research project I did with classmates. It was my first foray into research and was a tremendous learning experience. Dr. Snow and Dr. Uccelli’s classes transformed my idea of reading comprehension and pushed me to consider the myriad aspects that influence how children (and adults!) understand what we read. Dr. Mason and Dr. Lesaux lead a class that inspired me to think about the interconnected nature of purposeful assessment and instructional practices. I know the content covered in that course will directly and positively impact my work as a literacy specialist next year. It’s hard for me not to list every class I took as a response to this question, but the language and literacy series was particularly powerful.

"I have always believed that a personal connection is essential for teachers, students, and families to work together successfully. This feels particularly true in the current context."

What are your post-HGSE plans?

I am delighted to be working as a literacy specialist next year in my home city of Seattle. In my application for HGSE, I wrote about my desire to understand how schools can center students’ stories and my desire to create learning communities where individuals — teachers and students alike — feel known, seen, and heard. I am delighted to take what I’ve learned from my classes and peers this year into a school context to do exactly that! I look forward to leveraging my role as a literacy specialist to contribute to a school community that empowers teachers and places students at the center of the decision-making process. Taking what I’ve learned from my classes and peers and applying it to help students grow as readers, writers, and people is a dream come true.

What is something that you learned this year that you will take with you throughout your career in education? 

I’m struck by the power of resilience when navigating unfamiliar circumstances. There was simply no way to know, when I applied to HGSE in the fall of 2019, what this year would look like. While it has certainly been a different experience than I initially imagined, I am impressed with how skillfully the professors and school community pivoted to create a robust and connected learning experience. Professors have gone out of their way to make classes accessible and welcoming. The student body collaborated to support one-another and cultivate connections that cross the world. This year reinforced for me the idea that we can and must be constantly reflecting on the fit between our choices and the reality of the environment. Even in difficult moments, we are capable of adapting and forging new ways of teaching and learning.

How has the pandemic shifted your views of education? 

This pandemic has reaffirmed for me that value of strong relationships and importance of community supports in education. I have always believed that a personal connection is essential for teachers, students, and families to work together successfully. This feels particularly true in the current context. Finding ways to create connection and build relationships is essential if teachers are going to successfully support students in their classes, whether that is virtually, in-person, or a hybrid model. Taking the time to know students well, to learn their interests and dreams as well as their academic strengths and challenges, is an essential component of developing strong and stable partnerships to support student success.