1. Will Breakthrough San Francisco be in-person or virtual in summer 2021?

Due to COVID restrictions, our 2021 summer program will be mainly virtual; Teaching Fellows are encouraged to participate from wherever they’re based around the country. However, we are currently planning some optional in-person opportunities for our students, and welcome help from Teaching Fellows located in the Bay Area.

2. 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.

3. What makes Breakthrough San Francisco unique?

Our site is known for holding high expectations for Teaching Fellows and students alike, exceptional professional development throughout 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. 

4. What will be expected of me?

Breakthrough SF maintains a culture of excellence. We believe that all students can, and should, excel. Our number one priority is student outcomes and academic excellence, so Teaching Fellows are expected to bring an unparalleled energy and enthusiasm to everything they do, including greeting students on the curb at 8:15 am, planning special events, leading a small group advisory, teaching elective classes, and receiving constant coaching and development. You should apply only if you’re interested in working harder than you’ve ever worked in your life.

5. Is this a paid opportunity?

The residency is unpaid. However, we are committed to making this experience accessible to all applicants. All Teaching Fellows receive a living stipend of $1,250 to help cover costs like food and transit. TFs receiving need-based financial aid from their college or university receive an additional $1,000, while returning TFs receive an additional $250 for each completed summer. We also provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner to our TFs on most weekdays at no cost, as well as housing at no cost for those who qualify (see below.) Additional funding for travel, commuting, food, etc is available based on need. (In summer 2021, since our program will be mainly virtual, we’re increasing our stipend amounts, given that TFs will need to find their own housing wherever they’re based and take care of their own meals. The base stipend will increase to $1,750, while the need-based aid enhancement will increase to $2,000.)

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

Each summer, we provide housing at no charge to 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. (Please note that housing is not available in summer 2021 due to COVID restrictions.)

7. What are the program dates?

Dates for summer 2021 are as follows:

  • June 9 – 22: Teacher Orientation
  • June 23 – July 23: Summer Program
  • July 26 – 28: Wrap-Up Week

8. What does the daily schedule look like?

Our typical daily schedule is below. (For summer 2021, since our program will be mainly virtual, we will shorten the day by several hours to limit screen time.)

  • 8:00 – 8:10 – Staff Huddle
  • 8:15 – 8:30 – Student Arrival
  • 8:30 – 8:45 – Morning Meeting
  • 8:50 – 9:40 – Block 1
  • 9:45 – 10:40 – Block 2 and Snack
  • 10:45 – 11:35 – Block 3
  • 11:40 – 12:30 – Block 4
  • 12:35 – 1:45 – Lunch/Recess
  • 1:50 – 2:40 – Elective
  • 2:45 – 3:05 – Advisory
  • 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 connect and reflect with your colleagues and prepare for upcoming special events. Other days, you’ll have that time 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 for summer 2021 Teaching Fellow positions is now closed. To learn more about the opportunity, and receive notifications when the application reopens for summer 2022, please click here.

10. How competitive is the application process?

The application process is highly competitive; we typically admit 10% of applicants or fewer.

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 juggling, knitting, sports, social justice, art, and hip hop dance.

12. What grade level will I teach?

Breakthrough San Francisco recruits 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 and beyond. You will be assigned to a specific grade level by Breakthrough staff. If you have particular interest in or experience with 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?


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/guardian-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 collaborates to plan a special event. Committees are designed to spread leadership responsibilities throughout the staff. Events include Community Day, Outdoor Education, Spirit Week/BT Social, and Celebration. There is also a special committee dedicated to Staff Culture.

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 student conflicts and shows our kids 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 two-week orientation is an intensive introduction to teaching. Teaching Fellows participate actively from roughly 8am to 6pm each day, with a few later evenings. In addition to developing relationships with your new colleagues, you’ll attend workshops and receive coaching on how to write a lesson plan, build a positive classroom culture, and engage students in fun and relevant ways. You will have plenty of time during the second half of orientation to practice all you’ve learned in your department – writing lesson plans, delivering lessons, and receiving and providing feedback.

15. What kind of coaching will I get?

Breakthrough Teaching Fellows work closely with Instructional Coaches, professional teachers with a proven track record, to write detailed lesson plans and ensure effective instruction. Instructional Coaches use a variety of tools and systems to push teachers to their full potential, including frequent classroom observations, recorded 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, professionals, and leaders in the future.

16. Who are the Breakthrough students?

Breakthrough recruits highly motivated fourth graders 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; however, all are committed to attending college. The application process includes an intensive application, a half day 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’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, and will 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. As an alum of our site, you’re also encouraged to apply for funding for a master’s in education or other teacher training program through the Dr. Jeffrey A. Grigg Memorial Teaching Fellow Scholarship.