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This Sociology Major Is Making an Impression as a Teaching Fellow at Breakthrough Greater Boston

Elizabeth Dada '20 (educational studies, sociology) is a teaching fellow at Breakthrough Greater Boston this summer, where she teaches math and interacts with Boston-area youths.

Elizabeth Dada '20, Breakthrough Greater Boston


Educational studies, sociology.

Internship title:

Teaching fellow. 

How I got this internship:

I got this internship by networking with Dickinson alumni, faculty, staff and/or parents.

What I do, day to day:

A typical day at Breakthrough Greater Boston begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 5:30 p.m. We begin by having our daily huddle, where we share announcements and the way in which we would like to greet our students for the day. We then head over to breakfast where we engage with students and lead energizing cheers and games to get them excited for the day. I teach ninth grade math to our rising high school students during the first and third periods. The students are taught five classes a day by different teaching fellows. During my off periods, I am creating lesson plans for the next week, grading work and checking for mastery of the content that was taught previously. I also attend daily department meetings with the math department and our instructional coach. During this meeting, I am receiving feedback on my lesson plans and classes and I am engaging in weekly growth conferences. After fourth period class, the students and Breakthrough staff head over to the auditorium for our daily community meetings. During these meetings, the teaching fellows perform skits about their departments, and the students are provided a platform to share their talents with the community. We also have interns perform skits about the word of the day and present spirit stick presentations to highlight students who embody one or more of our four spirit checks such as effective communication, persistence, community membership and creative problem-solving. I am also an advisor to two leadership academy students. I am in charge of checking in with them, building relationships and assisting them with their homework assignments. At the end of the day, Breakthrough students attend different clubs before dismissal. I run poetry club with two other teaching fellows, and in poetry club, we encourage our students to write some poetry, share, watch and analyze spoken word videos The students end their day at 3:30 p.m. At the end of the day, teaching fellows lead staff meetings, partake in weekly professional development workshops and meet in our project teams to plan our assigned special event days.

Other internships:

I have had other amazing internship experiences prior to my current internship. During the summer of 2017, I was a development intern for a non-profit organization called Year Up Greater Boston. As a development intern, I assisted with the planning of the big graduation event that Year Up hosted. I also did research on partner companies who donated to the organization and assisted the manager of institutional giving with grant writing for the organization. I hope to intern again in the future. Being an intern is a rewarding experience that has allowed me to apply many skills and information that I gain in the classroom to the real world.

Most valuable part of this experience:

The most valuable part of this internship experience would be the safe and supportive working environment, which has allowed me to grow as a person. Breakthrough staff emphasizes that it is ok to fail because that is the only way in which we can identify what we need to work on to be better next time. Giving that this is my first time teaching, I value the ability to have room for error and redirection. Not only do I get the opportunity to utilize many tools that I was exposed to in the classroom, but I am also granted a strong support system that ensures my success. Teaching is not at all an easy thing to do, and it is a skill that takes years to perfect; however, my instructional coaches and the Breakthrough staff do an amazing job in supporting their teaching fellows. The weekly classroom observation and feedback that I receive about my teaching and classroom management skills have greatly impacted my growth. The consistent feedback that I receive has allowed me to become a better educator throughout this summer, and I am proud to say that I have seen significant improvement in my teaching since the first day. I also enjoy interacting with our students and being a mentor and a role model to them.

Advice for students considering internships:

I would encourage my peers to feel comfortable in exploring various types of internships, even those that may be outside of their comfort zone. Internships are an amazing opportunity for people to figure out what field in which they can envision themselves in the future. It is a chance to identify which fields you do not enjoy before you permanently commit to it. More importantly, it allows one to network, and develop a sense of understanding about the path in which they would like to take after graduating from Dickinson.

How this internship has helped me:

This internship has better prepared me for life at Dickinson by providing me with the space to reflect on my areas of growth. As a result of my involvement in Breakthrough, I am better aware of my strengths and weaknesses and I would like to work on these weaknesses in order to become a more effective educator with the help of my professors and advisors. I plan on setting plausible goals for myself that will better prepare me for a career in education. This internship has also provided me with insight into the life of an educator, and the tools in which I can use to balance such responsibilities.

Post-Dickinson plans:

I have various plans after graduating from Dickinson. The knowledge I have acquired over time has fueled my passion for social change and is the main reason why I want to be an education policy lawyer. I believe that in order to be an effective policymaker, I need to have some experiences and understanding of classroom management. This is why I will be taking the first steps in my career goal by becoming an educator. I am interested in teaching high school from low-income, minority communities such I the one I grew up in. I would like to teach a subject in the humanities, in which I can incorporate a social justice component. In the long run, I would like to start my own education based non-profit organization focused on providing opportunities for women in the global south, specifically in the STEM field.

Learn more about internships at Dickinson.


Published August 10, 2018