After three continuous, rigorous weeks of training, teaching fellows were finally prepared to lead and teach effectively in the classroom. With over hundred hours of workshops and practice, my co-teacher and I felt confident and enthusiastic to welcome our students on the first day of Breakthrough. As students poured into the school at 7 AM on June 27th, teachers flooded the hallways and sidewalks cheering in celebration of the first day of the summer program. At this moment, I realized that Breakthrough New York is a nonprofit organization that not only promotes high academic achievement, but also creates a culture for spirit. After a quick introduction and series of motivational chants, students proceeded to their classes. Swamped with delight, anxiety, and anticipation, I rushed to my classroom, ready to turn the pages to a new chapter in my life.
And I survived. Over the past two weeks, my co-teacher (Elaine) and I have introduced our students to the Scientific Method, techniques to analyze data, and the theory of kinematics. From brainstorming demos to make drier topics like the scientific method or distance engaging to developing the skills to improvise my lesson plan on the spot, I have seen myself grow immensely as a teacher and learner. Elaine and I have pushed students to apply terms like velocity and displacement to real life examples.
As physics teachers, we aim to ensure that students not only demonstrate a strong mastery of the material but also enjoy the process of learning. So far, students have been most responsive to lessons that include hands-on experiments or feature examples that are relatable to the New York City scene (for example, calculating the velocity of the 6 train).
In addition, every week the grade team teachers gather together during an after school meeting series: Kid Talk. During Kid Talk, teaching fellows discuss in detail the challenges they have been having with certain students in their class. Collaboratively, teachers and Breakthrough New York staff members create an action plan for each struggling student; these action plans are detailed and contain a measurable, time-sensitive goal. While the focus of this meeting is kept on students of concern, if there is extra time, fellows also brainstorm ways to praise students who are exceeding expectations.
In the upcoming weeks, I look forward to introducing my students to Newtown’s Three Laws of Motion through innovative demonstrations and relatable examples. My goal for future lessons is to fundamentally push students to create their own experiments that correspond to the theories of kinematics. An area of growth for my team teacher and I is maintaining a good balance between hands-on activities and traditional lecture-based instruction. Outside of the classroom, I hope to foster stronger relationships with all of the Breakthrough New York students.
I will push my students who are struggling in science to believe in themselves and adopt the growth mindset; they must realize that failure is not a permanent condition and success is always possible if one works hard and stays ambitious. I want to inspire them to research more about the endless possibilities in education with a focus on STEM can lead them to. Furthermore, I am excited to share my passion and thirst for knowledge and the role science has played in molding me into the critical thinker and problem solver I am.