Spend a Summer Teaching

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Spend that Summer Learning: Interning with Breakthrough Collaborative

By Ayesha Amin

If you have a passion for education, are dying to run your own classroom, and are looking for an incredible summer experience, you should definitely keep reading this post. You should also apply to become a Breakthrough Collaborative teaching fellow! Breakthrough is an organization that supports highly motivated, underserved middle and high school students throughout the country (and in Hong Kong) on their journey to college acceptance and graduation. Breakthrough does this by training college students to teach math, science, reading, writing, and social science classes to its students every summer. The model works, and I believe it’s the perfect internship for anyone interested in educational equity.

I was a Breakthrough teaching fellow in Pittsburgh last summer, and plan to teach at that site again this year. I know Breakthrough can make me a better teacher, and that, combined with my hope to see some of my students again, is why I am returning without a second thought. I taught tenth grade Writing through Literature and Teen Leadership, and it was by far the hardest I have ever worked. It was also the most fun I have ever had. The summer began with a two-week orientation session in which my co-workers and I learned how to lesson plan, delivered practice lessons, and received feedback from instructional coaches. When the students finally arrived, we jumped right into teaching them — from day one we had our own classrooms and were expected to get to work immediately. We turned in lesson plans ahead of time, were observed at least once a week, had feedback meetings with instructional coaches and directors, and tracked students’ mastery of objectives through in-class assignments and homework. Every one of these responsibilities taught me how to be an organized and prepared teacher, and the effort my co-workers and I, our students, and the directors put into the program made it all the more rewarding.

Though I would’ve been thrilled to have gotten all of that out of the summer alone, Breakthrough also brought me into a community. Though the students were there to learn, they were also there during the summer and deserved to have a good time. Every morning, the teaching fellows would greet busses with “Energizers,” or cheers, and do the same during breakfast, lunch, and at the end of the day. We’d also put on skits (often with the students) during daily assemblies; topics ranged from “This Day in History,” cleaning up after lunch, an explanation of how all the teachers were related, lip sync battles, and a three-part musical featuring new-and-improved versions of Frozen and Mulan songs. I had to learn how to Whip and Nae Nae, play in a basketball tournament in a cape, and quickly figure out what “on fleek” meant for the good of the kids — and I had an absolute blast doing it with my co-workers, who soon became my close friends. I have never missed a summer more than I miss my time with Breakthrough. I was able interact with and learn from the greatest students, work with peers who are as passionate about education as I am, and be mentored extremely experienced and effective educators. Breakthrough changed my life, and I encourage absolutely everyone interested in teaching to apply. The application typically opens in October, and can be found (along with information about the program and the cities sites are located in) here. Breakthrough also has partnerships with several graduate programs and post-graduate teacher residencies, which are listed here.

Now that you know how great Breakthrough is, all that’s left to do is count the days until the next application opens!

Ayesha Amin is a junior in the University of Michigan’s School of Education, and a Breakthrough Collaborative teaching fellow alumna. She hopes to teach History, English, and/or Psychology after graduation (which is apparently only a year away).