For the past three weeks, I have been training to be a Teaching Fellow at Breakthrough New York (BTNY), a non-profit organization that runs a rigorous academic intensive college access program for 90 high-potential, underserved middle school students. As a Teaching Fellow, I will co-teach geometry to 32 rising 9th graders, as well as digital music production to 16 middle school students. My other responsibilities include planning special events, like Open Mic, running an advisory group comprised of four 9th graders, and overseeing and supporting students during breakfast and lunch activities, as well as during Family Time (i.e., study hall). In preparation for the summer internship, I attended an intensive training program with 72 Teaching Fellows from the three BTNY sites: Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx.
During the first week of training, I met my co-teacher, Ella, my instructional coach, Marisol, and my site coordinator, Chilee. From the very start, I could tell how dedicated and motivated everyone was to be working at Breakthrough. In the mornings, all Teaching Fellows attended seminars on a specific teacher skill, such as behavior management or lesson planning, and in the afternoons, we broke into smaller site-team groups to practice the skill in interactive workshops led by our site coordinator. As a geometry teacher, I also partook in math department meetings, during which Marisol taught myself and the other Manhattan math Teaching Fellows subject-specific skills. I was overwhelmed throughout the entire first week of training because I was presented with a great deal of information regarding instructional strategies, Teaching Fellow expectations, and lesson plan deadlines. Ella and I were nervous when we found out that our week one lesson plans were due to our instructional coach only four days after day one of training. Fortunately, we quickly learned that we make a great team, as we divided up the work, while still helping each other out with creative ideas and constructive feedback.
The next two weeks of training followed the same structure with seminars, workshops, and meetings, but also consisted of more individual work time, which is when Ella and I created our week 2 and 3 lesson plans. Marisol gave us a comprehensive objective map to follow when designing lessons; the beginning topics include basic geometry terminology, special angle pairs, finding missing angle measures/segment lengths, and proofs. In addition, Ella and I learned various co-teaching models, and had the opportunity to practice teaching our lessons in front of the Manhattan Teaching Fellows, who gave us helpful praises and prompts. Besides for participating in lesson preparation, I also met with my Open Mic committee to plan the special event for the students, worked with my elective co-teacher to familiarize ourselves with digital music production, and learned the countless Breakthrough cheers and chants that make the program so unique, fun, and spirited.
All-in-all, the three-week training was overwhelming, informative, intensive, and necessary to the future success of the summer program. Prior to this experience, I felt unprepared and uncertain about my ability to teach a group of middle schoolers. However, I am now confident in myself and incredibly excited to meet and teach my students. I know that I have a community of Teaching Fellows, Instructional Coaches, and Breakthrough Staff to support me along the way.