The shelter-in-place order that went out in mid-March scattered many GSE students, disrupting their coursework, research, and sense of well-being. Though our students are on many paths—policy, learning technology, research and scholarship, and preparation for K-12 classrooms—they share a common commitment to quality, accessible education for all. These stories reflect both the breadth of our programs and the creativity of our students to meet the moment.
One of the good things that this situation [shelter at home] brought to me is that I had to reimagine my master’s project. I started to do hands-on workshops online on Zoom. For the last eight weeks I’ve facilitated more than 20 workshops, and I could see in children who came regularly that they started making their own projects at home and teaching me what they did. . . . They enjoy creating their own things and having the chance to share them and to be proud of what they are building. . . . I’m learning a lot on this project, especially on how to translate physical facilitation into digital facilitation, and being inspired by what the children make.
Mathieu Penot is a master’s student in learning, design, and technology at Stanford Graduate School of Education. See some of his work at Creativity by Mat, a series of short videos to inspire kids to make things at home.
Sending my students a quick text or email is just not the same as standing by the door greeting them with a firm handshake, looking them in the eyes, calling them by their names, and welcoming them into my classroom. It pains me to know many of my students are facing unprecedented challenges with the pandemic. As a low-income Latino student myself, I have seen first-hand how devastating the pandemic has been. My single mom has had her hours reduced at work, I am taking care of my younger siblings, and we are all cramped in a one-bedroom apartment as I try to continue my graduate coursework and supporting my students.
If anything, my distance learning experiences inform the expectations I have for my students. I touch base frequently, am as flexible as possible with optional enrichment, and work to create meaningful content, including a unit on the Latino Civil Rights Movement that enables them to see themselves reflected in what they are learning. We may not be able to be together in Room 244 but we will continue doing our best to stay connected and support each other through this.
Luis A. Gonzalez is a master’s student in Stanford’s teacher education training program. He teaches U.S. history at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, California.
As a social person, I admit that working from home and social distancing hasn't been easy on me or my field research. Still, I was lucky to be able to redesign one project—investigating how a growth mindset intervention can impact gender differences in challenge-seeking behavior—to be fully implemented online. I'm grateful for the support of my advisor, other professors, students, funders, and an implementing partner in developing this new project during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Concentrating on work is still hard at times, partly because of the anxiety and helplessness caused by the pandemic, and partly because I can no longer resort to conversations with people around me to process my thoughts, get feedback, or advice. However, I know I'm fortunate to be able to work from home, staying healthy and safe, while others have to risk themselves to care for the sick or earn a living.
Ana Trindade Ribeiro is a doctoral student focusing on the economics of education at Stanford Graduate School of Education. Her research focuses on inequality of opportunities.
My research looks at the design and meaningful integration of education technologies, focusing on emerging trends and new-media tools like virtual reality. My work takes a human-centered design approach to build technologies for the most underserved communities and classrooms. While the uncertainty for the future is very high, I am also very optimistic (and excited) for what lies ahead: the implications for my work in edtech/VR take on a whole new perspective in this current climate. Along with my work in learning technology, I also helped start a community of non-profit makerspaces and science labs in India, MakerGhat.
Aditya Vishwanath is a doctoral student in learning sciences and technology design at Stanford Graduate School of Education, where he is a Knight-Hennessey Scholar.
Over spring break, a group of us in POLS began meeting over Zoom, since we missed each other. As the long-term implications of COVID-19 began to crystalize, we considered how our former students, and all students, are impacted. From those initial conversations, a collective desire emerged to support school communities to meet students' social-emotional needs, which deeply influence their academic and life outcomes.
Plans for a research project emerged, and with the support of Dean Dan Schwartz, we are partnering with schools serving diverse learners and communities to identify individual needs and assist in transitioning back to in-person learning. We hope to identify common areas of concern amongst members of the school community with particular attention to social-emotional wellbeing. We are intentionally concentrating on what comes next, so we’re focused on listening to stakeholder needs while referencing lessons learned by school communities after major disruptive events, such as Hurricane Katrina.
Joshua Jordan is a master’s student in policy, organization, and leadership studies (POLS) at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. The project team includes Marlee Burns, Lauren Hogan, Eric Saito, Hillary Knudson, Meg Pantell, Clare McLaughlin, Elizabeth Tisch, Alex Kuehn, and Kelly Branning, with additional support from Jen Calder and Maira Martinez.
The Bay Area’s shelter-in-place order and Stanford’s transition to online classes for spring quarter has left me thinking a lot about how our communication has to be much more intentional now than ever before. We don’t get to run into colleagues and peers at the proverbial water cooler. We have to make an effort to reach out to them via email, text, phone call, Zoom, etc. I realize now that I took those little interactions for granted, and I miss those informal encounters. However, I consider myself incredibly lucky. I have two amazing advisors (Eric Bettinger and Tom Dee) who have checked on me and supported me as I continue my coursework and research. Our first-year cohort of PhD students has organized all kinds of virtual activities that allow us to remain in touch. The GSE has devoted immense resources to supporting its students and facilitating a smooth transition to online learning. I’m acutely aware that not everyone enjoys these same privileges. Above all else, these uncertain and challenging times have reminded me to be grateful—especially for the little things.
Madison Dell is a doctoral student focusing on the economics of education at Stanford Graduate School of Education.
My husband and I decided to stay in our studio in Escondido Village when the shelter-in-place was announced. We believed our time at Stanford was not finished yet. Even though we miss our family back in Peru, we count our blessings every day. We have breathtaking views of the sunset from our window, we go running and cycling almost every day, we enjoy sunny days in the garden, and we continue learning and sharing with wonderful people.
Being here has also allowed me to gather different perspectives about the situation of education systems. I am a strong advocate of inclusive education, and I think this situation has forced the entire world to acknowledge inequities and to find innovative ways to reach every child. I believe this is an opportunity to rethink the role of the school, to prioritize the value of teachers, and to transform the system based on students’ needs. At the end of the day, happiness is not found in the books but in the purposeful meaning of our lives. That is what students deserve—to find learning communities that help them shine their own unique way.
Daniela Gamboa is a master’s student studying international education policy analysis at Stanford Graduate School of Education.
This is not how I imagined my graduate school experience to be. When the shelter-in-place order occurred, I immediately made my way back down to my home town to support my parents. They're older and more at risk of contracting COVID-19 and having health complications. So I now have the added responsibility of running errands and being caretaker while also balancing school work and job searches. Internet access has been a bit spotty, since my hometown is in a rural part of the Central Valley. But my professors and teaching assistants have been kind and generous with understanding my current reality.
Even though it’s difficult to stay motivated with these challenges, I know that I want to go on to work directly with students, either through social organizations or academic services. My experience of being mentored and guided in my undergraduate and graduate studies led me to become a mentor at Stanford’s El Centro Chicano y Latino's Frosh Scholar Program. Working with my two freshman mentees has reinforced how important having community on campus is when transitioning into college. I hope to continue to work in creating strong inclusive and diverse communities for students on college campuses and provide resources for students to succeed.
Belen Gutierrez is a master’s student in the policy, organization, and leadership studies program at Stanford Graduate School of Education.
I had just found my “groove” as a teacher and was starting to have fun with teaching and not always worrying about how I was applying the different things I was learning this year! Suddenly, I’m trying to plan engaging lessons for online learning without knowing the learning environment my 33 students are in at home. I’m trying to stay connected, worrying as they tell me about their troubles and concerns and drastically changed sleep schedules. I think that’s been the hardest. How do I support students when I can’t physically do anything to help?
Overall, the one thing I’ve taken away from this pandemic is the absolute necessity of building a strong community in a classroom. I don’t think online learning would be going as well for me as a student or as a teacher if I hadn’t had the chance to build community before the schools closed. My students already know they can trust me, so they are more comfortable opening up, asking for help, or even admitting they missed class because they overslept. I don’t even know what this online learning would look like if there wasn’t a strong community foundation to support it.
Anna Perry is a master’s student in Stanford’s teacher education program. She teaches U.S. history at Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, California.
“I just had a long Zoom meeting with a mother who's had a really hard time connecting with teachers because of time and lack of internet access. She also only speaks Spanish, so I used my high school Spanish and Google translate to communicate. It made me extra appreciative of our teacher-parent role playing in seminar. I started by checking in with her and asking about things other than school work. At one point I said (in Spanish), ‘The most important thing is that you're all healthy and doing okay right now. If we are able to get some work done together, then that will be amazing but that is not the most important thing.’ I shared my screen with her and went over how to do addition and subtraction problems so that she can help her son. I also told her what time I could meet with her son over Zoom to do similar work together. At the end of the conversation she was so happy, we were both almost in tears. It was her first time being in contact with anybody; I sent her step-by-step pictures of how to join a Zoom meeting. So, as I write this I'm feeling a little more ready for parent interactions next year."
Claire Murphy is a master’s student in Stanford’s teacher education program. She taught second grade at East Palo Alto Charter School.