68% of Breakthrough students qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch.
Name: Ashok Chandran
Program: Breakthrough Manchester
Subject Teaching: 7th grade Social Studies
School Attending/Year: Yale University, rising senior
Well, today marked the official one-week anniversary of my stay in Manchester. I am supposedly one week closer to being a good teacher. But at this point, I think all I can really say is that I have a whole new appreciation for what the process of education takes. While I've definitely been impressed by the statistics surrounding our training and the strategies Breakthrough employs, I've been most surprised by the sheer time commitment that teachers across the country need to make. Our training starts at 8 AM and usually lasts till 5:30 PM. After getting home around 6, it's a quick dinner and then a few hours of drafting and revising lesson plans (and the corresponding powerpoints and outlines). Then a few more hours of sifting through worksheets and articles to choose just the right ones to assign students. I haven't made it to bed before midnight this week.
Now, just to clarify, I don't want it to sound like I'm complaining - I can't possibly express how much I'm enjoying this entire experience. Interacting with my coworkers has already exposed me to so many new ideas and viewpoints, learning new techniques has really helped me understand how to plan a lesson, and workshops on managing the responsibilities of teaching have done a great job so far of letting me know what to expect. I've also started to understand the joy - or maybe it's just a swooping sense of relief - of getting a lesson plan approved. I haven't experienced many comparable feelings. Each plan starts to become yours; your ideas, your methods, your voice. Getting them ripped apart hurts, but it's worth it for that moment when you finally hear "You know, this sounds great. Good work."
It's hard to tell whether I'll be a good teacher or not. I'm scrambling to hold on to as many of the lessons as possible, but the sheer quantity of material is overwhelming. I'm pretty sure I'll be the first to forget to use VIPs or break a Say-See-Do cycle. What I can say for sure is that training week has taught me a lot - about teaching, about Breakthrough, and about myself. Students arrive in 4 days; let the summer begin!