By: Nathalie Soto

Breakthrough Houston Teaching Fellow, Connect Summer 2021

Before joining the Breakthrough Houston team, I had no prior teaching experience. I was anxious to start, but entered the summer with three goals in mind:

  1. Becoming open to sharing ideas and collaborating with others.
  2. To grow as a person through the use of corrective feedback.
  3. To be the teacher I never had.

As this summer rapidly comes to its end, I can confidently say that I have achieved these goals and so much more. 

Every day I am welcomed by a wonderful department of ELA Teaching Fellows that work with each other to create engaging lessons that our students will enjoy. Within our department meetings, I am constantly reminded that teaching is not a competition, rather it is a collaboration. As we continue through the summer, it is incredible to watch how our students are making connections with the text. Each activity has been fine-tuned by myself, my team, and our Instructional Coach to ensure our students achieve a deep understanding of the text, are engaged, and most importantly have fun. Although I love sharing ideas with my peers, my students are the ones I love hearing from the most. Our students have chosen to spend their summer with us, and the satisfaction of hearing how much they loved a chapter, or how fun class was, makes the effort worth it. 

Breakthrough Houston has also equipped us Teaching Fellows with an extraordinary team of Instructional Coaches that help us hone our skills. The anxiety I felt before my first week of teaching was quickly diminished by my Instructional Coach, Ashley McDonald, who provides clear feedback that has helped me grow as a student, Teaching Fellow, and individual. Although I started out a little timid, I quickly leaned into the discomfort and have transformed into a confident speaker with a powerful teacher voice. 

Perhaps my biggest accomplishment of the summer is becoming the teacher I never had. I never had teachers who looked like me, who cared to ask why I was late to school every day, no educators that encouraged me to go to college or seek a future past high school graduation. Now I get to come to work every morning and see young women with hair like mine. I get to come to work and greet my students while welcoming those who trickle in late. I get to inspire and push my students to achieve all that we here at Breakthrough Houston know they are capable of. This has been the most fun and transformative summer of my life, and I will be grateful to my wonderful team at Connect for the experience, relationships, and skills that have now become a part of me. 

Preparing effective, skilled teachers is a defining strategy in Breakthrough Houston’s approach to closing the opportunity gap. Support this and critically needed student programs by:

Houston students need our support more than ever before. We are grateful for your partnerships in bringing equitable education and life-changing opportunities to under-resourced Houston students.