FAQs

1. I’ve never taught before – is this program right for me?

If you’re passionate about educational equity, want to join a diverse and inclusive community, and are willing to work hard this summer, 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 as a babysitter, camp counselor, tutor, etc. 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 Breakthrough San Francisco unique?

Our site strives to hold high expectations for Teaching Fellows and students alike, offer strong professional development throughout the summer, and build a diverse, inclusive community. We believe in the power of 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 and identity as it relates to the work of teaching. We believe that all TFs can be effective in the classroom if they are willing to work hard, receive feedback, reflect on their practice, and put students first. 

3. What will be expected of me?

Excellence is one of our core values: we value all students and believe all of them can succeed. Teaching Fellows are expected to bring energy and enthusiasm to everything they do on behalf of their students, whether greeting kids on the curb at 8:15 am, planning special events, leading advisory, or receiving feedback from your Instructional Coach.

4. Is this a paid opportunity?

All Teaching Fellows receive a living stipend of $2,000. In addition, TFs receiving need-based financial aid from their college or university receive an additional $2,000, while returning TFs (anyone who’s taught at a Breakthrough site previously) receive an additional $500. We also provide housing at no cost to those who qualify (see below) and breakfast and lunch at no cost on most workdays. Funding for transit to and from San Francisco is available as well, with priority going to Teaching Fellows with the greatest financial need. We are committed to making this experience accessible to all applicants.

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 to Teaching Fellows from outside San Francisco 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 take excellent care of your summer home.

6. What are the program dates?

Dates for summer 2024 are as follows:

  • June 4 – 14: Teacher Orientation
  • June 17 – July 26: Summer Program
  • July 29 – 31: Wrap-Up Week

7. What does the daily schedule look like?

Our daily schedule from summer 2023 is below. We’re still finalizing our daily schedule for summer 2024, but anticipate that it will be similar.

  • 7:45 – 8:00 – Staff Huddle
  • 8:00 – 8:15 – Student Arrival
  • 8:15 – 8:30 – Morning Meeting
  • 8:35 – 9:05 – Advisory
  • 9:10 – 10:00 – Block 1
  • 10:05 – 10:55 – Block 2
  • 10:55 – 11:00 Snack Break
  • 11:05 – 11:55 – Block 3
  • 12:00 – 12:50 – Block 4
  • 12:55 – 1:55 – Lunch/Recess
  • 2:00 – 2:40 – Electives/Teacher Prep Time
  • 2:45 – 3:15 – Study Hall
  • 3:20-3:30 – 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 most days from 3:45 – 4:15 pm. Once a week, faculty meeting will extend until 4:45 pm, allowing time to prepare for upcoming special events. Other days, you’ll have that time to meet with your committee, 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 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.

8. How do I apply? 

The application for summer 2024 Teaching Fellow positions is now live! Deadlines are January 18, 2024 (Early Action) and February 29, 2024 (Regular Decision), though we encourage candidates to apply by the Early Action deadline if possible. Prior to applying, please thoroughly review the 2024 Site Directory and this section of our website. Questions can be directed to Sara Marcopulos-Riberal, Director of Curriculum and Instruction.

9. How competitive is the application process?

The application process is competitive – we typically admit less than half of applicants. However, if this seems like the right opportunity for you, we highly encourage you to apply.

10. 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. 

11. What grade level will I teach?

We recruit our 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, while building a strong community. You will be assigned to a specific grade level by Breakthrough staff. If you have particular interest in a certain grade level, feel free to share that with Breakthrough staff during your interview.

12. Besides teaching two academic classes, 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’ll also build community, play games, and have conversations about important issues related to identity and social justice. You are also responsible for facilitating parent/guardian-teacher conferences for each of 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 could include Community Day, Outdoor Education, Spirit Week/BT Social, Celebration, and more. 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 (several 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.

 

13. What happens during teacher orientation?

Breakthrough’s two-week orientation is an intensive introduction to teaching. Teaching Fellows participate actively from roughly 8 am to 4 pm 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.

14. 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.

15. Who are the Breakthrough students?

Breakthrough recruits motivated fourth graders from across 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 application, an interview, teacher recommendation, and report cards. Our main selection criteria are motivation and need.

16. 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.