Last spring, Breakthrough Collaborative launched our Human First Framework (HFF) to support the social-emotional and cultural development of our students, Teaching Fellows, and staff. During the first phase of our work, we developed a research brief based on the work of Dr. Camangian and Dr. Cariaga, and human-centered student scope and sequence to amplify our students’ inherent strengths and support their growth as leaders and changemakers. Beyond test takers or future graduates, our students are capable, fully autonomous people. We believe that SEL should not be about changing or managing them, but rather supporting them in holistic, empowering, and developmentally appropriate ways. This summer, our network of 24 affiliates will roll out and implement our new social-emotional learning curriculum that is aligned to the Human First Framework.

We are also excited to report that we have moved to the second phase of our work, expanding the framework to support our Teaching Fellows (TFs). Prioritizing students’ social-emotional growth must be done in conjunction with adult learning and critical reflection about their own social-emotional (SEL) and cultural competencies. To that end, we have developed a Teaching Fellow Scope and Sequence to guide Breakthrough staff and leaders as they support our Teaching Fellows’ growth, both as individuals and as educators. 

We are committed to supporting our college-aged Teaching Fellows’ growth as humans first in their journeys to become the next generation of educators and advocates. Supporting their development is key to our program’s success. Additionally, research points to the benefits of SEL for teacher well-being.

Teachers who have strong social-emotional skills stay in the classroom longer, have better relationships with their students, and are more effective and motivated. We want our Teaching Fellows to not only know how to write lesson plans and lead a classroom, but to also know how to take care of themselves, practice empathy, and examine their own socio-cultural identities and biases. Our hope is that our TFs will start their teaching journey with a human-centered foundation, discover their teaching identity and purpose, and think about education in a systematic and holistic way. 

To develop the best possible framework for our TFs, last fall we held focus groups with Teaching Fellow alumni to gain their perspectives and insights. We heard from 21 alumni representing 21 affiliates, about a third who are aspiring educators, and another third working as educators and education leaders. We learned about their hopes, aspirations, and challenges, and how Breakthrough has helped them along their journey. Overwhelmingly, they all want to make a positive impact in the world. Many of our alumni in college expressed a desire to enter the teaching profession, yet are unsure and anxious given the difficult environment currently.

This research and feedback from alumni and affiliate staff was critical in developing our Teaching Fellow scope and sequence. This tool will help program staff think about the social-emotional milestones, behaviors, and mindsets for TFs to develop over the summer. This tool will also guide the National Office to develop resources that are grounded in our alumni and affiliate staffs’ vision for a human-centered Teaching Fellowship. We hope that this Scope and Sequence acts as a foundation for Breakthrough as we continue to prioritize human-first SEL. 

This summer, we will measure the baseline data for Teaching Fellows’ social-emotional competencies. We will also continue our work with supporting our students’ social-emotional learning through implementing an aligned SEL curriculum across the Collaborative. Moving forward, we will align our Breakthrough Instructional Training (BIT) modules and other Breakthrough National resources to the Human First Framework. 

While Breakthrough cannot solve the systemic issues facing the education system alone, we hope that the actualization of the Human First Framework provides a foundation for our Teaching Fellows and our entire Breakthrough community to collectively champion and further educational equity.