What Does an AP Lead Teacher Do? Part 2

In my previous post, I talked about the campus based portion of my job.  There are three high schools in my district and 3each campus has someone who does the work that I do.  In addition, there are four content AP lead teachers–one for English, one for science, one for social studies and one for mathematics (That’s me!).  As the lead teacher for mathematics, I teach my own 4 classes each day (Other teachers have five classes) and then I am responsible for building the AP program in mathematics across the entire district.  In my district, AP mathematics includes Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Statistics and Computer Science.  I have taught AP Calculus for over twenty years, but don’t have any teaching experience with statistics or computer science.   Nonetheless, I do my best to connect those teachers to appropriate training and other resources.

In addition to working with the AP mathematics teachers, I am also responsible for building the vertical team of courses that lead to AP math classes.  We begin our preAP math program in 6th grade and we have five middle schools that feed into our three high schools.  When we started this project, we had six (too many!) vertical team meetings each year bringing together all preAP and AP math teachers from across the district for one hour (too short!) after school.  We then cut down to four 90-minute meetings.  Now that we have everything running somewhat smoothly, we have 2 three-hour meetings each school year.  Most of my communication with teachers at other campuses now takes place through emails though I will also visit each campus several times each year.  If you want more information on vertical teaming, check out the articles I wrote in the preAP mathematics corner of AP Central.

Another part of my job is to provide advice and resources to the other calculus teachers in my district.  I might write up worksheets for example or share lesson ideas that I have found to be particularly effective.  I can go to their campus and teach a class on a topic that might be new to the teacher or they can come and observe me teaching it.  Tomorrow afternoon, I plan to meet with all of the district calculus teachers for about an hour after school to discuss nuances of the grading of the 2009 AP exam.  (Check out http://linmc-thelimit.blogspot.com/2009/06/absolutely-extreme.html  for some great insight from Lin McMullin.)

I will also share with the calculus teachers dates for this year’s Saturday prep sessions.  These will take place in early March and mid-April and will allow all of the AP math students from across the district to attend session on topics that will prepare them for the AP exam.  I am in charge of planning these sessions and also teaching sessions and helping the other teachers prepare their sessions.

Another aspect of my job is connecting my teachers to available training opportunities and resources.  I encourage them to attend a local AP math teachers group that meets in the evening 4 times per year.  I help make arrangements so that they can attend College Board conferences.  I have also found experienced and successful AP teachers in my own or nearby districts that my newer AP teachers can go and observe.  When math teachers have questions, they email me and I try to find the answer if I don’t already know it.  I am constantly on the lookout for good future AP teachers.  I know I will have some retirements at the end of this year so have already picked out some successors and am working to bring them up to speed.

A small part of my job is data analysis.  When the AP instructional planning reports become available, I will examine those and help my teachers identify areas of strength (in which they can be prep session presenters!) and area of weakness (for which I will make suggestions for improvement.)  When SOAS data from our PSAT administration becomes available, I will analyze that to try to identify strengths and weaknesses in our curriculum and instruction.

In early to mid-May the preAP teachers in grades 6-11 will administer a free response style exam consisting of two questions to all of their students.  A group of teachers will then convene on a weekend and engage in a reading similar to that done for the AP exams.  This gives our students early experience with working a challenging problem that requires them to communicate their knowledge of mathematics clearly.  It also helps our teachers to better understand the philosophy and scoring of the AP exam.  In conjunction with our district math coordinator, I am responsible for planning and conducting that scoring session.

Finally, my least favorite part of my job is that I have to attend meetings.  I know it’s necessary, but I would much rather spend time with students.  Yesterday, I attended a meeting that brought together all of the lead teachers for both campus and content along with our subject area coordinators so we could set dates for prep sessions, mock exams, discuss budget, etc.  While I don’t enjoy meetings too well, I really enjoy working with others who are also passionate about building a strong AP program.  Occasionally, the AP lead teachers get together at a Mexican food restaurant just to brainstorm and let each other know what’s going on.  I suppose that’s a meeting too, but chips and salsa make it much more enjoyable!

Thanks to all of you who keep reading and especially to those who leave comments.  I am hoping that you might pose a question or two that I could respond to in my next post.  Now I am off to grade a pile of quizzes!


4 Responses to “What Does an AP Lead Teacher Do? Part 2”

  1. Keith McBurnett Says:


    And you do all of this while still teaching students. I enjoyed reading your blog. Thank you for everything you do for our students.


  2. Tracy Thompson Says:

    Dear Dixie,
    Thanks for these posts! I am in a similar position at my high school, but being brand new to the task, I’m happy that there is such a great resource available. We are just starting the tasks of looking at vertical alignment and confronting equity issues.

  3. Mort Orlov Says:

    Hi Dixie,

    Excellent posts and I intend to share them with my Content Directors and Leads!

    (Mass Math & Science Initiative)

  4. Virginia Welle Says:

    Hey, is there a way to subscribe to your blog (either via email updates or through Google Reader)? I’m working on growing our AP program at my high school and this strikes me as a great resource. Thanks!

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