As I reflect back on a summer that has been filled with highs and lows and limitless learning opportunities, I remember the goals that I had set for myself before being accepted to the program. In my Breakthrough New York application essay, I had written the following: “As a Neuroscience and Behavior major and premedical student, I hope to lead by example and motivate our students to excel especially in STEM-related fields. I want to show our students that being excited about a potato battery, the gizzard of an earthworm, or the sublimation of dry ice is cool. As a teaching fellow, I hope to not only profoundly impact the lives of our students, but also grow as a leader, listener, and learner.” Through the support of my staff, students, and Teaching Fellows, I believe I accomplished many of these endeavors. May it be dressing up as a scientist or encouraging students to believe in themselves, I have used Breakthrough as a means to spread my undying passion for science amongst the entire student body. What I learned this summer as a teaching fellow also extends far beyond designing effective slideshows or mastering the ITTI model.
Through Breakthrough New York, I have had the opportunity to contribute my positive energy to and learned the importance of maintaining relationships from a community committed to the success of low-income high achieving students. As a Teaching Fellow, I have shown high competency in modeling leadership, teamwork, a sense of community, flexibility, and positive risk taking. From the Science 8 classroom to the cafeteria, I have exemplified the Breakthrough New York core value of being “all in” by participating in all of the cheers enthusiastically, teaching an additional elective than required, and developing a positive classroom culture in Science 8. By showing my class how physics relates to our everyday actions, I have observed students who initially struggled with the content area grow to develop a passion for science. My team teacher and I made an active effort to make our lessons engaging and relatable by including New York City related examples and exciting mediums of technology to portray concepts like acceleration and friction. Furthermore, by performing live demonstrations and introducing a two-day lab to study Newton’s 3 Laws, my team teacher and I have made significant strides in innovating on the floor of excellence. Furthermore, in these examples, I have demonstrated flexibility and my commitment to community leadership.
At Breakthrough this summer, I also discovered the importance of celebrating minor achievements. While it was important to ensure all of our students were demonstrating 80%+ mastery in all of their core academic classes, I realized that it is the small steps students take to improve their performance that help them ultimately achieve their goal. The actions students take to demonstrate upward growth should be honored in and outside of the classroom. One of my students, Unwana, had been struggling to stay on task and complete his homework in all of his academic classes. After an intense parent-teacher conference, I noticed Unwana make positive strides the next day specifically in Science. In his free time, he organized a group of 3 students and brainstormed a Physics related rap. Although Unwana did not show tremendous growth in his scores over those two days, he reflected a greater enthusiasm and interest for science. Touched and inspired by Unwana and his group, I then realized the importance of positive narration and praises as long term motivators of academic success.
In the future, I will continue to apply the professional code of conduct, organizational strategies, leadership skills, and growth mindset I have learned from the Breakthrough community to my campus, family, and workplace. Through this internship, I have understood how to effectively manage my time and work as a positive member on a team. Moreover, I look forward to pushing myself to lean into discomfort more often by trying extra-curricular activities and internships outside of the world of medicine.
It has been an honor to serving for Breakthrough New York this summer, so much so, that my experiences as a Teaching Fellow have inspired me to create a lifetime goal of serving the underserved youth of low-income communities.