Become A Teaching Fellow

Photo: Breakthrough Twin Cities


The Summer 2020 Teaching Fellow Application is available here.

To learn more about Breakthrough and the teaching fellow experience:

  • Review the Summer 2020 Site Directory which details our 24 programs across the country and one in Hong Kong.
  • Read more about the Teaching Fellow experience and application in our Summer 2020 Viewbook!
  • Our Campus Ambassadors are former teaching fellows. Check out the roster to see if there’s an Ambassador at your school and to get in touch with them!

Apply to teach

The Breakthrough teaching fellow experience is designed for undergraduates of all majors and for those who intend to pursue careers in education, as well as those who haven’t yet considered it.  The opportunity is unlike any other available to undergraduates and our alumni are transformed by the experience. Education coursework is not a prerequisite. We seek applicants with a deep interest in social justice and a passion for working with students. Our teaching fellows must be committed to personal growth and comfortable working in a fast-paced, collaborative environment. Because we celebrate the diversity of our community, we seek undergraduate applicants from diverse backgrounds and life experiences.   During the nine-week residency, Breakthrough teaching fellows receive over 100 hours of teaching and leadership training, and 75 hours of lead classroom experience. Teaching fellows have the opportunity to practice skills that prepare them for the classroom or other professional settings, including:

  • Learn lesson planning, classroom management, instructional strategies, feedback techniques, and other essential learning tools
  • Receive regular coaching from professional educators
  • Lead family conferences and participate in team meetings
  • Teach core academic classes (math, science, writing, literature) and elective classes (e.g., foreign language, dance, art)
  • Collaborate with colleagues in a challenging, fun, and supportive environment
  • Work with a diverse group of highly motivated students, staff, and teachers
  • Learn how to receive and deliver actionable feedback
  • Practice presentation skills
  • Hone time management and project planning

Learn more about the application process below

Photo: Breakthrough Kent Denver


Important dates for Summer 2020

Application opens on October 15, 2019

Early action deadline January 16, 2020

Regular decision deadline February 27, 2020

We are thrilled that you are applying to be a teaching fellow at Breakthrough. Please refer to the following instructions as you complete your application and participate in the selection process.

Before you start

Step 1: Choose a Recommender

Selecting a recommender early in the selection process allows you to give him or her as much notice as possible. Recommenders complete an online recommendation form. We are unable to accept formal letters of recommendation. You will be asked to provide your recommender’s name and email address on your application. Upon submission of your application, we will contact your recommender via email. For advice on selecting and communicating with a recommender, and specific information about the online recommendation form check out our Frequently Asked Questions page. Recommenders will have two weeks to complete the online form – recommendations do not need to be completed by the application deadlines.

On the application

Step 2: Complete your profile information

Provide contact information, as well as basic information about your skills and educational background.

Step 3: Upload your resume

Upload a current copy of your resume. It should include paid and unpaid extracurricular, work, volunteer, and leadership experiences. If you are currently an undergraduate student beyond your first year, you should focus on your collegiate experiences. If you are a college freshman, feel free to include experiences from late high school. See our resume advice on the Frequently Asked Questions page. We encourage applicants to keep their resumes to one page (and not more than two).

Step 4: Submit your transcript

Please submit an electronic version of your academic transcripts(s). This document should indicate your current status as a student, your major, all the courses you have taken as an undergraduate and the grades you received, and your current cumulative GPA. Please note that we do not require an official copy of your transcript and we do not accept paper copies; a screenshot of your online grade interface will suffice. You can paste multiple screen shots into a Word document and then save or print it as a PDF to upload multiple pages in one document.

Step 5: Write three short-answer responses

Your short-answer responses help the selection committee deepen their understanding of your experiences and perspective, as well as assess your communication skills. Content is important, but your presentation sends a strong message as well. In your writing, strive to be as specific and original as possible. The selection committee is most interested in getting to know you better.

Step 6: Select site and subject preferences

Select affiliates you are interested in and able to teach at. We recommend locations where you are able to provide your own housing and programs that completely align with your schedule. To maximize chances of receiving a position at Breakthrough, we recommend that you select three affiliates in order of preference, as well as indicating that you are willing to teach anywhere. Breakthrough has 25 programs in exciting cities across the country. Click here to review our affiliate locations and program details including schedules, housing, and stipend information. You will also indicate which core subject areas (math, science, writing, literature) you are interested in teaching. As with site preferences, flexibility is helpful. As directors build their faculties, they like to have candidates whom they can move between departments. On the other hand, you must be qualified to teach each subject you select. Keep in mind, these core classes are at the middle-school level. For each of these selections, we encourage you to be open-minded but honest about your willingness and ability to accept a position with all of the locations and subjects you indicate.

Step 7: Submit your application

Once you submit a completed application, your recommender will receive an email with recommendation form and instructions. You will not be able to make changes to the application once it has been submitted.

Selection Process and Materials

After you submit your application, your application materials will be considered by your preferred sites in order of preference. If you advance in the selection process, you will be asked to complete or submit additional selection materials. Below is information about these additional materials. Please keep in mind that materials and timelines may vary slightly from site to site.

Step 8: Submit a video

If you are selected to continue in the process, you will be asked to submit a sample teaching video. Guidelines, expectations, and a deadline will be provided to you via email.

Step 9: Interview

The final step of the selection process is an interview. Interview processes differ from site to site, however most interviews are conducted over the phone or video call. Directors will contact you directly via email and/or phone to schedule and complete interviews.

Step 10: Receive a decision

You will be updated about your application status throughout the process. If you apply to our early action deadline, you may be offered a position. If you are not offered a position by your first-choice program, you will be forwarded to the selection committee at your second-choice program. If you apply to the regular decision deadline, you may be accepted or denied by each of your selected sites, in order of your preference. Applicants are only offered a position by one site. If you turn down an offer to teach with one site, you are turning down the opportunity to teach with Breakthrough for the summer. If you are not offered a position by any of your three sites and you have indicated a willingness to teach anywhere, you may become part of the national wait list and may be offered a position at any site. If you are placed on the national waitlist, you will be notified. Please review the site directory to select your three program choices before beginning your application.


Photo: Breakthrough Twin Cities

Curious to know what a day as Breakthrough teaching fellow is like? Watch the video below, or read an example schedule here.


Photo: Breakthrough Twin Cities

Do you have questions about applying to Breakthrough as a teaching fellow? Answers to some of our most frequently asked questions are below.

Teaching at Breakthrough

Do I have to be an education major, have experience teaching, or know that I want to be a teacher?
No. The Breakthrough teaching residency is intentionally designed to accommodate teaching fellows from all majors and with all professional interests. Interest in pursuing a career in education is not required, nor is any education coursework. You do have to be passionate about working with our students, and excited to work collaboratively with your colleagues, and grow in an intense, fast-paced, supportive environment.
How do I select sites, and how will I be considered for each?

On the application, you will have the opportunity to rank up to three sites in order of your preference. While all Breakthrough sites share a mission and model, differences in program dates, housing availability, stipend amount, admissions rates, and other areas might influence your decision about which sites to select. Please explore the Site Directory to familiarize yourself with the specifics of each site before you make your selections. Please ensure that the sites you choose have program dates that align with your availability.

What differentiates Breakthrough sites from one another?
At each Breakthrough site you will find similar student and teaching fellow profiles, high expectations, and a commitment to providing the support our students and teaching fellows need to meet those expectations. Some details, such as program dates, stipend amounts, program size, exact grade levels served, and selectivity for teaching fellow applicants, differ between sites. To learn more about what makes each site unique, please visit our site directory.

Applicants must select at least one site on your application, and we encourage you to select three in order to maximize your chances of admission. We recommend you select locations where you are able to provide your own housing and whose schedule aligns with yours. You will be considered by sites in the order that you indicate on the application, and you cannot change your selections after you submit your application, so please choose carefully. Also, note that only one site will offer you a position. If you choose not to accept that offer, you will not be able to teach at any Breakthrough site this summer.

Are teaching fellows paid?

Teaching fellows receive a living stipend. Some sites are able to offer additional financial aid. The site directory includes each site’s living expense stipend range, as well as the potential availability of financial aid.

What are the dates of the summer program?

The deadline to apply early action for Summer 2019 is January 10, 2019. The deadline to apply regular decision is March 8, 2019.

Is housing provided at all sites?

Some sites are able to offer housing for a limited number of candidates. If at all possible, we recommend applying to programs where you are able to provide your own housing. Please explore the site directory for specific housing information for each site.

Application process

Who is eligible to apply to teach with Breakthrough?
Breakthrough recruits excellent college and high-school students to teach in our programs. If you are a high-school student, you are eligible to apply to your local Breakthrough site when you turn 15. If you are a college student, you are eligible throughout your entire undergraduate career, even if you are graduating the spring or winter before the summer session for which you are applying to teach. Unfortunately, graduate students are not eligible.
I’m not a U.S. citizen. Can I still apply?
Yes. You will need to have authorization to be an intern in the U.S. (or Hong Kong if you are applying to teach in Hong Kong) by the time the summer program begins. We encourage you to contact the office at your college or university that supports international students. Please alert placement directors about your authorization while you are going through the selection process as they are ultimately responsible and will need to operate within the terms of the law.
I’m studying abroad this spring. Can I still apply?
Yes. It’s common for many of our applicants to study abroad during the application process. As long as you have reliable access to internet and/or phone, our directors will be able to conduct your interview over the phone or via video.
What is early action?
The early action deadline allows for an earlier, faster review of your application by your first-choice site. If you apply early action, your application will be reviewed by your first-choice site two months before regular applications are reviewed. One of two things will happen at that time: 1) The first choice site will offer you a position 2) The first choice site will pass your application to your second choice site to be reviewed at a later date.

Early action does not guarantee early placement, though many of our teaching placements are filled during early action.

What are the deadlines for applying to teach at Breakthrough?

The deadline to apply early action for Summer 2019 will be January 10, 2019.  The deadline to apply regular decision will be March 8, 2019.

What does “willing to teach anywhere” mean, and how will it affect my application?
Willingness to teach anywhere increases your likelihood of being selected to teach at Breakthrough this summer. Every year applicants who aren’t offered positions at their top choice sites still get to teach because they said they were willing to teach anywhere. Applicants who choose this option find themselves at Breakthrough sites in cities they’ve never visited before, where they end up having life-changing experiences with people they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.

Selecting this option does not make you less likely to be matched with one of your preferred sites. It affects your application only if all of the sites you selected are unable to place you. At that point, your application would join the waiting list where directors across the country look for applicants to fill their remaining positions.

In short, if you have some flexibility, select this option. You aren’t committing yourself to all sites, just maximizing your opportunities.

Whom should I select to be my Recommender?
Select someone who knows you well and can speak to your academic skills, work experience, or work ethic and offer specific examples. Personal recommenders, such as friends or family members, are not ideal.

When approaching a potential recommender, be professional. Set up a time to meet or send a formal request via email. Share the link to our website to let him or her know exactly what you’re applying for. Be sure to update him or her about your accomplishments or skills which are relevant for this position, and share an updated resume if you have one. Once he or she agrees to complete your recommendation, let him or her know when you plan to submit your application and that he or she will have approximately two weeks from that date to complete the online recommendation form. It is a good idea to send an update email to your recommender as soon as you submit your application to ensure that our email got through and that he or she knows the due date. You will be notified when the recommendation is complete via email and on the status checker in the application portal.

We will contact the recommender directly via email, so be sure to ask him or her to add to his or her safe-senders list. We do not ask for a formal letter of reference or any other documents. Recommenders simply complete an online form. We ask recommenders to complete the recommendation form within two calendar weeks and you will receive an email notification when the recommendation is complete.

Please make sure the recommender has agreed before you submit your application, and be sure to confirm the appropriate email address. In extenuating circumstances, we can change your recommender, but it may slow down your review process.

What is the recommendation form?
The online recommendation form asks recommenders to complete a brief evaluation for each applicant on a number of core competencies that we have learned make excellent Breakthrough teaching fellows. Recommenders rank the applicant among his or her peers and give a brief explanation for each ranking.
What should I include on my resume?
Your resume gives the selection committee an idea of your previous experience, whether it is related to Breakthrough or not. We encourage applicants to be as thorough and concise as possible. Focus on experiences during your time in college (or late high school if you are a college freshman). We look for candidates who are resourceful problem-solvers, leaders, and collaborators in all areas.

As you list experiences on your resume, please be sure to include your role or title (e.g. Sales Associate); the organization, company, or school and its general location (e.g. Old Navy – Bethesda, MD); the duration of your position (e.g. September 2014–May 2015); the hours you worked per week (e.g. 25 hours/week); and a bulleted list of your responsibilities in that position. Include this information for work, volunteer, leadership, and extracurricular experiences.

Your resume should be comprehensive but not overly detailed. A general guideline is one to two pages for college students and young professionals. Most college career centers offer help with resume development.

Selection process

How competitive is this opportunity, and which are the most competitive sites?
Selection rates vary greatly by site. To maximize your chance of being selected, we encourage you to be thorough and thoughtful in your application. Take time to review and proofread your application before submission. Decisions are made on a rolling basis and while our review criteria is consistent throughout the process, as the cycle progresses, there are fewer teaching fellow positions available each week.
What is the selection process like?
The selection process may differ slightly from site to site, so always defer to specific directors’ instructions as you progress through the steps. After submitting the application, applicants may be asked to submit supplemental materials and to participate in interview or selection events. If, at any point, a site chooses not to offer you a position, your application is passed to the next site in your ranking.
How quickly will I receive a decision?

Early action applicants: Your application will be reviewed by one site at a time in the order of preference as indicated on your application. You will be notified of your decision at your first-choice site no later than February 1, 2019 at which time you will be offered a position or passed to your second-choice site. Your second-choice site will make a decision in mid-March. If your second-choice site is unable to offer you a position, you will be passed to your third-choice site. You will receive final notification in late March. Some applicants who are not offered a position by one of their ranked preferences AND indicated that they were willing to teach anywhere will be placed on the national waitlist. You will be notified if you are placed on the national waitlist. Offers can be extended to national waitlist applicants at any time and final notification will occur in early June. Regular decision applications: Your application will be reviewed by one site at a time in the order of preference as indicated on your application. You will be notified of your decision by your first-choice site in mid-March at which time you will be offered a position or passed to your second-choice site. Your second-choice site will make a decision in late March. If your second-choice site is unable to offer you a position, you will be passed to your third-choice site. You will receive final notification in early April. Some applicants who are not offered a position by one of their ranked preferences AND indicated that they were willing to teach anywhere will be placed on the national waitlist. You will be notified if you are placed on the national waitlist. Offers can be extended to national waitlist applicants at any time and final notification will occur in early June.

I have more questions that are not answered here. Whom should I contact?