Breakthrough Houston

Teaching Assistant (Preschool, Elementary, Middle, and Secondary School)

June - August 2021 • Houston, TX

What I liked

Everything! As an educator-in-training who is also an international student, this was my first hands-on experience in an American curriculum. Being a teacher with the summer program spoiled me as a teacher because it showed me what a healthy work environment is like and how teams should ideally work together. The stringent selection process meant that the teachers with who I worked genuinely wanted to be there and put their best foot forward which made working with them a pleasure. It also helped that our students were highly motivated and high achieving learners which made teaching them almost "easy". The teaching fellows were responsible for everything a certified teacher would have to do. They had to create or modify lesson plans according to the set curriculum, grade homework while also keeping track of student progress, and conduct 50-minute classes that combined teaching strategies with digital instructional strategies. I was a teaching assistant so I would help with classroom management, work individually with students when necessary, and contribute to lesson planning by giving feedback about what was working or not working. We were well-supported by our instructional coaches who were certified teachers with more than one year of experience and also received basic training for the responsibilities of being a teacher during orientation week. The teaching fellows also received a stipend from Breakthrough as well as AmeriCorps which added up to a significant amount! There were also various other team-building activities for just the fellows and lots of "hangout" time with the students to just get to know each other and have fun! A few of the students' favorite activities were Taylor Swift karaoke and the game of Concentration.

What I wish was different

I think the only thing I would change is to have a better understanding of how much work the teachers have to put in before accepting the role. We had our regular curriculum teaching in addition to lunch duty, committee meetings, elective planning, and activity facilitating. Granted, all of these were team-based which significantly lightened the load of managing everything, but it was a lot, even though it was absolutely and completely worth it.


You need to like being around kids (more specifically 7th, 8th, and 9th graders) and engaging with them. This experience is completely based on what you make of it and if you are not motivated to be involved- don't do it. Be prepared to be on your feet for almost an entire school day despite it passing by extremely quickly because of how busy the day is (and how much fun you have).
Be the first to mark this as helpful