I am so sad that my time at Breakthrough New York has come to an end. These last few weeks have been incredibly fun and meaningful. My geometry students were thrilled to have completed the difficult proofs unit and start learning about transformations, while my digital music production students were exploring GarageBand and putting the finishing touches to their final songs. As the summer was coming to a close, I was given the responsibility of writing student evaluations to be sent home to parents. Although it was a tedious task, it made me reflect on my teaching and realize just how much I have learned from my students.
Over the course of the summer, I have faced many challenges and triumphs that have allowed me to grow as a teacher. One of the biggest obstacles I encountered as a Teaching Fellow was dealing with two students, in particular, who were constantly struggling to keep up with their classmates. Initially, Ella and I attempted to implement a co-teaching model where one of us taught the class, while the other sat with the two students to provide them with assistance throughout the lesson. When we didn’t see improvement, we asked our instructional coach to pull the students out of class and teach them a portion of the lesson so that they could get even more individualized attention. However, I found that the most effective way to help them was to work one-on-one with them during Family Time, and read through the guided notes together. Even though there were times when I felt like I was failing as a teacher, I discovered that there is no correct formula to teaching; I just have to learn from my mistakes and continue to experiment with new ideas.
One of the main reasons I have learned so much from the Breakthrough program is because I was constantly receiving support and feedback from my co-teacher and instructional coach. Ella and Marisol have been instrumental in my growth over the summer. At the end of each lesson, Ella and I discussed what went well and what could have gone better; she had great advice for ways I could improve my teaching. We were fortunate to have Marisol, an experienced teacher, observe our classes on a weekly basis and follow-up with growth conferences. She helped us enhance our teaching methods to best serve the students, gave us useful resources for geometry teachers, and was always there to answer any questions that arose. I am so thankful to have had such a great mentor.
As I look back over the summer, there are countless phenomenal memories that come to mind. Some of my favorite experiences that stand out are the special event days, which occurred each Friday. I loved learning about everyone’s differing backgrounds on Diversity Day, singing cheers with my team during Spirit Olympics, watching students perform skits and dances at Open Mic, and participating in the end of summer celebration ceremony. I will always cherish the strong bonds I made with my students and co-workers. My time at Breakthrough has been an invaluable learning experience, one that I will never forget. I cannot wait to continue my passion of working with children and helping to reduce educational inequality.