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A Practitioner Perspective: Katie Wiseman, L&L'22

The Intellectual Contribution Award recipient for Language and Literacy reflects on her time at HGSE and looks toward the future.
Katie Wiseman

Katie Wiseman

Photo: Jill Anderson

The Intellectual Contribution Award recognizes graduating Ed.M. students (one from each Ed.M. program) whose dedication to scholarship enhanced HGSE’s academic community and positively affected fellow students. Katie Wiseman will be honored with the Intellectual Contribution Award for Language and Literacy (L&L) Program during HGSE's Convocation exercises on May 25.

Senior Lecturer Pamela Mason, faculty director of L&L, comments on Wiseman's selection:“Katie Wiseman, a part-time, remote student in the Language and Literacy Program, has brought full-time focus and energy to her studies and co-curricular activities at HGSE. She taught her middle-schoolers by day and contributed thoughtful insights on her learning by night, maintaining a high level of engagement despite her long days. Katie contributed her practitioner perspective to our course discussions, implemented instructional concepts and strategies, and reflected on their impact with her class cohort during whole class and small group discussions. She has leaned into her learning edges and has encouraged others to do the same. Katie has leveraged her commitment to typically underserved learners, be they in the Mississippi Delta or in Detroit, teaching English language arts and building strong communities of learners. She continued this work through a fieldwork placement at a Cambridge upper school, growing as a practitioner in a new educational context. Katie has been a leader within the L&L cohort as well as the HGSE community at large and has been recognized as such by the faculty and her cohort.”

We spoke to Wiseman — who will be returning to the classroom post-graduation — about her time at HGSE and how the pandemic has changed the education landscape:

What brought you to the Ed School, and have your goals changed in your time here?

Teaching brought me to HGSE. I began my teaching career in the rural Mississippi Delta teaching 5th- and 6th-grade English language arts. While in Mississippi, I fell in love with teaching and became curious about literacy instruction; it was clear to me that reading was a fundamental skill that elevated some students while leaving others behind. After four years in Mississippi, I relocated to Detroit, Michigan, where I continued to teach upper elementary and middle school ELA. While teaching the same subject and age range in a different community, I doubled down on my curiosity surrounding reading instruction; I became passionate about addressing the unique needs of reluctant readers through literacy interventions. I realized that reading and writing skills can be taught oppressively or taught as acts of freedom, and that too many times the teaching I witnessed and facilitated was falling into the former category. I wanted to understand how reading and writing could be taught as a means of educational freedom, and I decided to come to HGSE to investigate and develop my literacy practices through this understanding. Working towards my master’s in Language and Literacy over the last two years, these goals have been repeatedly affirmed and developed by my peers; I’m leaving HGSE with both firm examples and broad dreams of what liberatory literacy education looks like. 

"The last two years have reminded me of the importance of being present. Many of the moments that stand out to me as highlights from my time at HGSE were moments when professors were taking extra time to just show up and be present for their students."

What were your experiences with online learning? 

Though I was wary going into it, I had a positive experience with online learning at HGSE. During the 2020–21 school year, when we were all attending HGSE virtually, I saw my professors and peers go above and beyond to intentionally create a warm community. From professors who sent out care packages (shoutout Dr. V!) to classmates who were willing to spend hours and hours studying together on Zoom, we were able to build genuine connections even though we were physically distant. 

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

Senior Lecturer Pamela Mason had a huge impact on my experience at the Ed School. While her course, Reading Instruction and Development, was one of my favorites (and one of my most difficult finals!), it’s all the time spent in office hours and outside-of-class spaces that really stand out to me. She always shows up to support her students and always asks the kind of just-right question that helps you put words to that thing you were thinking but didn’t know how to express. From May 2020 when I was first realizing how the pandemic would change my HGSE experience to just this week as I was thinking through what next year looks like, Dr. Mason has been a steady and reassuring presence during my time here. 

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

The last two years have reminded me of the importance of being present. Many of the moments that stand out to me as highlights from my time at HGSE — Catherine Snow’s Language Cafe, Joe McIntyre’s extra R programming sessions, Dr. V’s [Christina Villarreal] snickerdoodle baking night, Radcliffe Community Mondays — were moments when professors were taking extra time to just show up and be present for their students. Sometimes these moments offered academic support and new ways of thinking, and other times they offered a chance to laugh together and build connection. These small moments meant a lot to me, and I’m going to remember the significance of these moments as I return to the classroom this fall. 

Despite your busy schedule, you always make time for …

Getting distracted in Gutman! Nothing is better than saying “I’m going to head home now” and then still standing there an hour later as you run into friends.