Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I've never taught before - is this program right for me?
  2. What makes the Day School site unique?
  3. What will be expected of me?
  4. Is this a paid opportunity?
  5. If I’m from outside San Francisco, does Breakthrough help me find and pay for housing?
  6. What is the weather like in San Francisco during the summer? What clothes should I bring?
  7. What are the program dates?
  8. What does the daily schedule look like?
  9. How do I apply?
  10. How competitive is the application process?
  11. Do I get to choose which class I teach?
  12. What grade level will I teach?
  13. Besides teaching two core classes and an elective, what are my other responsibilities?
  14. What happens during teacher training?
  15. What kind of coaching will I get?
  16. Who are the Breakthrough students?
  17. What happens after the summer?

1. I've never taught before - is this program right for me?

If you’re passionate about educational equity and have demonstrated academic excellence and effective leadership in the past, this program might be for you. Those selected for our teaching residency usually haven't taught before, though most have prior experience working with kids in some capacity. At Breakthrough we have Instructional Coaches on staff – experienced classroom teachers who offer training and support on all aspects of the work.

2. What makes the Day School site unique?

Our site is known for holding high expectations for Teaching Fellows and students alike, ongoing professional development through the summer, and support with career exploration. We believe in the power of the growth mindset for both students and teachers, and encourage our Teaching Fellows to embrace critical feedback, welcome opportunities to grow, and continually examine their own background, race, and identity as it relates to the work of teaching students of color. Our primary goals are student outcomes and a strong school culture, so we focus our energy on great teaching and building impactful relationships. We believe that all of our TFs can be effective in the classroom if they are willing to work hard, embrace constructive criticism, and push themselves through our regular cycle of feedback. 

3. What will be expected of me?

Breakthrough SF maintains a culture of excellence. We believe that all students can, and should, excel. While our number one priority is student outcomes and academic excellence, Teaching Fellows are expected to bring an unparalleled energy and enthusiasm to everything they do on site, including greeting students on the curb at 7:45 am, planning special events, advising a small group of students on organization and study skills, and teaching elective classes in the afternoon. You should apply only if you’re interested in working harder than you’ve ever worked in your life.

4. Is this a paid opportunity?

The residency is unpaid. However, all TFs receive a living stipend to help cover costs like food and transit. The total stipend amount ranges from $1,000 to $2,250, depending on financial need and previous Breakthrough teaching experience.

5. If I’m from outside San Francisco, does Breakthrough help me find and pay for housing?

Each summer, we provide housing at no charge for a limited number of Teaching Fellows from outside the Bay Area who have indicated on their application that they need housing - either with a local family or in a University of San Francisco dormitory. You will need to adhere to a number of Breakthrough policies and generally be exceptionally respectful of your summer home.

6. What is the weather like in San Francisco during the summer? What clothes should I bring?

Summers in the city are generally cold and foggy with temperatures in the 50s-60s - except on occasion, when it's sunny and hot. Please bring clothes for cold weather so you're prepared. You will probably need a jacket every day.

7. What are the program dates?

Summer 2017 dates are as follows:

  • June 14 - 24: Teacher Orientation
  • June 26 - August 4: Summer Program
  • August 7 - 9: Wrap-Up Week

8. What does the daily schedule look like?

Our daily schedule for summer 2017 is below.

  • 7:30-7:40 – Staff Huddle
  • 7:45-8:00 – Teaching Fellows Greet Students
  • 8:00-8:15 – Morning Meeting
  • 8:20-9:10 – Block 1
  • 9:15-10:10 – Block 2 and Snack
  • 10:15-11:05 – Block 3
  • 11:10 - 12:00 - Block 4
  • 12:05-1:15 – Lunch/Recess
  • 1:20-2:10 – Elective
  • 2:15-3:05 – Advisory and Study Hall
  • 3:10-3:25 – All School Meeting
  • 3:30-5:30 – Optional After-School Program for Students

Afternoons for TFs start at 3:45 pm. There is a faculty meeting every day from 3:45 - 4:15 pm. Two days per week, you'll come together with other TFs from 4:15 - 5:15 pm to reflect on your practice, learn about upcoming special events, or other activities as needed. Other days, you'll have that time slot available to meet with your committee or elective co-teacher, check in on your students in the after-school program, or work on lesson plans. Keep in mind that even after leaving campus, you’ll have a significant amount of work to do. Also, there are several evenings throughout the summer when important mandatory events are scheduled. See A Day in the Life for more information.

9. How do I apply? 

The application process for the summer 2017 teacher residency is now open! Deadlines are January 12, 2017 (Early Action) and February 23, 2017 (Regular Decision). The application and other details are available here. Questions can be forwarded to Josh Shald, Director of Curriculum and Instruction.

10. How competitive is the application process?

The application process is highly competitive. For summer 2016, we accepted a total of 32 Teaching Fellows from a pool of 440, for an acceptance rate of 7%.

11. Do I get to choose which class I teach?

If selected for the teaching residency, you’ll be assigned a specific subject. While Breakthrough staff make these decisions, you’re encouraged to rank your preferences on the application and may speak with us in greater depth about subject options if invited to interview with us. You’ll work closely with your Instructional Coach and other TFs before the students arrive to finalize your curriculum, and will receive support throughout the summer on lesson plan development and implementation. You won't be starting from scratch; all TFs will have daily objectives and sample lessons to use as a starting point, as well as resources from past Teaching Fellows. For elective classes, you’ll have more autonomy; recent classes have included Japanese, yoga, Capoeira, entrepreneurship, choir, knitting, computer literacy, and slam poetry.

12. What grade level will I teach?

At BTSF, we recruit students as fourth graders – earlier than at most Breakthrough sites. They attend our summer program for four consecutive years, as rising fifth – eighth graders. The additional time we have with our students enables us to further develop the academic and study skills that are essential for success in high school. You will be assigned to a specific grade level by Breakthrough staff. If you have particular interest in a certain grade level, you may share that interest with Breakthrough staff during your interview.

13. Besides teaching two core classes and an elective, what will my other responsibilities be?

Advising

You will be assigned to work closely with roughly four advisees, who meet with you daily to organize their work and make sure they are on track in all classes. You are expected to build relationships with your advisees and coach them through essential study skills, the middle school transition, and other issues they may be thinking about. You are also responsible for facilitating parent-teacher conferences for your advisees and compiling end-of-summer evaluations for each of them.

Committee and Event Work

Every Breakthrough Teaching Fellow serves on a committee and helps to plan a Friday event. Committees are designed to spread leadership responsibilities throughout the staff. Events include Family Day, Career Day, STEM Olympics, Outdoor Education, Spirit Week, Celebration, and more.

All School Meetings, Lunch, Recess, and Passing Periods

Your presence at Morning Meeting (daily), All School Meeting (daily), and lunch/recess (three days/week) is required because it is important to know your students as whole people, not just as students in your class. Being fully present during these periods also reduces the possibility of disciplinary problems and shows our students that we are fully dedicated to them.

Wrap-Up Week

At the end of the summer, Teaching Fellows are responsible for evaluating their students, their courses, the program, and themselves. Instead of grades, Breakthrough students receive detailed narrative evaluations of their work in each of their academic classes: TFs are responsible for writing these reports midway through the summer and during the final week of the program. TFs must also contribute lesson plans, write up committee/event recommendations, and write a reflective evaluation of the program.

14. What happens during teacher orientation?

Breakthrough’s ten-day orientation is an intensive introduction to teaching. Teaching Fellows are expected to participate actively from roughly 8am to 6pm each day, with a few later evenings. You’ll receive coaching on how to break down skills and content into manageable chunks, assess students’ understanding in a consistent, intentional way, provide students with the opportunity to practice skills until they have reach automaticity, and proactively manage your classroom by setting up specific routines and procedures. You will have plenty of time during the second half of orientation to practice all you’ve learned in "Teaching and Learning Collaboratives," in which you and the other TFs in your department practice delivering lessons and receive and provide feedback.

15. What kind of coaching will I get?

Breakthrough Teaching Fellows work closely with Instructional Coaches, professional teachers with a proven track record in Bay Area schools, to fine-tune lesson plans and ensure effectiveness. Instructional Coaches use a variety of tools and systems to push teachers to their full potential, including frequent classroom observations, video-taped lessons, department meetings, and ongoing collaboration between teachers. We commit to providing our Teaching Fellows with a set of highly transferable teaching skills that will make them effective educators in the future. As Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education, stated, “The single biggest influence on student growth is the quality of the teacher standing in front of the classroom. Not socioeconomic status, not family background, but the quality of the teacher in front of that class.”

16. Who are the Breakthrough students?

Breakthrough recruits highly motivated fourth graders with significant academic potential from under-resourced schools in San Francisco, and works with them for the ensuing eight years, including four years (fifth – eighth grade) of summer and school-year programming. We have an academically diverse group with a variety of skills and interests - most are earning A’s and B’s in school, but some may be earning B’s and C’s. We are not a remedial program and tend not to accept students who are reading below grade level or have pronounced discipline issues. The application process includes an intensive application, a day-long interview, and evaluation of teacher recommendations, family statements, grades, and standardized test scores.

17. What happens after the summer?

Breakthrough staff continue to support Teaching Fellows even after the residency ends. We hold an alumni reunion for students and TFs in San Francisco each January. We're available to talk through plans for post-college and write letters of recommendations.  As a Breakthrough teacher, you are also part of an incredible national network. You will have the opportunity to attend regional Leadership Summits with Breakthrough teachers from across the country, and you'll also have access to special opportunities with Breakthrough's Pipeline Partners, which include Match Teacher Residency, Teach For America, Boston Teacher Residency, and other well-known programs.