By: Valerie Villegas
Breakthrough Houston Teaching Fellow, Connect Site 2023

Last week, my Instructional Coach shared a fascinating quote with our 9th grade English Language Arts department: he said, “teaching is performance art,” and then paused to watch us react. As the amateur philosopher and free thinker that I am, I immediately got to dissecting all of the complex and genuine truths to those five words. Teaching is performance art.

I heard about the Breakthrough Collaborative through a close friend at Brown University. Since he is an education major, he knew of various teaching opportunities across the country. I, on the other hand, as a media production major, and someone who wasn’t involved in the world of education, knew nothing about such opportunities. So when he mentioned that there was a really cool, immersive teaching program in my home city, I figured there was no harm in applying.

Weeks flew by, I was accepted as a Teaching Fellow, my spring semester ended, BTH orientation started and then…BOOM, I suddenly found myself teaching in a classroom filled with kids that I called my very own students. How did I get here? What am I doing? What even is teaching? I did not know and, despite the succeeding parts of this article, I still fully don’t.

Nonetheless, we are over four weeks in and I think I am finally starting to understand what it is I am really doing. And I refer not to finally having a grasp on my mere responsibilities. Instead,  I refer to finally understanding that in casually signing up to work as a teacher, I really had signed myself up to play the esteemed role of “Teacher.” 

The lesson plans are the scripts and my reviews of the lessons are the rehearsals. My classroom is the big stage, my slideshows and posters are set design, my students are audience members, but more importantly, they are my critics. Forget about the validation of an Academy Award or the 5-star ratings in local papers; my success as a Teaching Fellow will only be articulated when my students move on from this grand show to the one called Real Life. 

You see? Teaching is, indeed, performance art. And I can confidently add that with my experience so far, being a teacher is the role of a lifetime.

Valerie Villegas is a rising junior at Brown University concentrating in Modern Culture and Media, with additional interests in Education and Child Development. Outside of the classroom, she engages in Latin dance performances as well as organizes musical events for on-campus talent. At Breakthrough Houston, she teaches 9th grade Writing and co-teaches Filmmaking, Latin Dance and Crafty Arts.

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