Monday, June 22, 2015

Stepping Into My Teacher Shoes

Post Written By: Abi Nixon
Year: Senior
Major(s): Middle Childhood-Early Adolescent Education
Minor(s): General Science

During the past two weeks, I have made over 100 clocks and spirals to hang on the school hallways. I have spent hours perfecting my first week lessons.  I have set-up my own beautiful science room, and I have grown immensely.

During the two weeks of Breakthrough training, teaching fellows learn foundational teaching skills and begin to develop a unique Breakthrough culture.  During the first week of training, we spent a significant amount of time going through Breakthrough Instructional Training (also known as BIT). This training helped create a common language and develop common skills among all teachers regardless of their major or minor.  From the shoes of an education major, this training echoed things that were covered throughout my training at UW-L such as task analysis, active participation, and lesson objective creation.  I also learned new things as well!  For example, my knowledge of how to teach using a distinctive "say, see, do" cycle and create strong structured and guided practice increased immensely.  It was also great to be able to plan a whole unit plan to lay out exactly what I was going to teach in my classes this summer.  One thing during training that was done exceptionally well was the diversity discussions.  Breakthrough Twin Cities reaches a diverse population of students and understanding differences is a high priority.  It was nice to continue the conversations I had during my UW-L Understanding Differences class (EFN 205) with new people who all brought new, unique experiences to the discussion.

This summer, I will be teaching 8th grade Chemistry!  However, that is just one of the many hats I will wear as a Breakthrough teaching fellow.  Some of my other roles include: student advisor, bus game coordinator, college teacher, tutorial teacher, and elective teacher!  During the day, the students go to three core classes (Math, Science, Writing, or Literature).  Before lunch, everyone comes to the large recital hall to participate in All School Meeting (ASM).  During ASM, teachers perform improv using the summer theme (This summers theme is "Time Travel"!) to teach students the College Codes.  The College Codes are character traits that Breakthrough has determined are essential for student success in college.  Some of these codes are persist, relish hard work together, strive to understand others, and curiosity.  ASM also highlights student talent, math problem of the day, science problem of the day, and word of the day.  After ASM, students head to lunch.  In the afternoon, students go to College.  College is like a homeroom except it also focuses on teaching the College Codes.  Tutorial is the next.  This is basically a study hall except students are able to get help from their teachers and complete their BooYah (Breakthrough's term for homework).  The students in my tutorial are all in my 8th grade chemistry class and the other three tutorial teachers teach those students' other core classes.  Finally, the day ends with YO-Time.  During this time, students have the option to play basketball, create hallway decorations, paint finger nails, play soccer, sing karaoke, and other various activities led by the teachers.

The highlight of my training was Back to Breakthrough Night where I finally got to meet my students! On Thursday night, Breakthrough students came to the school to meet their teachers, find their classrooms, open their lockers and begin making connections with other students. It was great to finally see the students for whom I have been preparing so hard!  I feel like I am in a place where I can meet students' unique needs and really help highly motivated, under-resourced students achieve their goal of going to college.  It is going to be a life-changing summer, and I am so excited to jump into it on Monday!

For more information about Breakthrough Twin Cities go to!