Building the Next Generation of AP Teachers

Now is a good time to think about the future staffing of AP classes.  It’s at this time of year that many large high schools begin building the master schedules for next school year.  In next week’s post, I will discuss ways to promote enrollment in your AP class (keep sending me ideas!).  Before you fill the class with students though, you have to have a teacher who is well-prepared to lead the class.

I am sad that one of my most experienced AP Statistics teachers will be retiring at the end of this year; he’s done a great job.  Fortunately, he gave us sufficient notice that we were able to begin training his replacement last summer.  In Texas, all preAP and AP teachers must complete 30 hours of training in the nature and needs of gifted students.  Ms. M, the replacement teacher, attended that training last summer and will attend a week-long Advanced Placement Summer Institute this coming summer.  The cost of that training will be reimbursed by the state of Texas.  Next week, Ms. M will also be attending a two-day College Board conference that is taking place in San Antonio.  I also hope that she will be able to visit some successful AP Statistics teachers in our area and sit in on their classes for 1/2 a day.  I have encouraged her to sign up for the AP Statistics electronic discussion group and to begin gathering ideas and material in order to complete the AP audit.  The current teacher is obviously available to help her with that.  In the spring, we have two Saturday prep sessions to prepare students for the AP exam with sessions lead by experienced AP teachers.  Ms. M will be attending those to help with logistics and to sit in on sessions as a “student.”  In the next few weeks, Ms M will be very actively recruiting students for her AP class for next year and I believe the transition to a new teacher will go smoothly.

I am also preparing a new AP Calculus teacher.  I have been teaching AP Calculus for over twenty years and intend to teach for probably twelve more years.  However, our AP program has grown to the point that we need more than one teacher.  Also, you never want to have all of your eggs in one teacher’s basket.  If that teacher leaves the school for whatever reason, you don’t want to have to start all over from scratch.  Ms. P, the new calculus teacher, is actually one of my former students from a decade ago.  She has been teaching preAP Algebra 2 at our school.  When we shared a tutorial time last year, I loved the way she worked with struggling students and knew she would make a great addition to an inclusive AP program.  She already had the 30 hour of gifted training and so was able to attend an AP summer institute last summer.  We also sent her to a two-day College Board workshop last year and she will go again next week.  The greatest thing that we were able to do though is that one of her conference periods (we teach 5 of 7) is the same time as one of my Calculus AB sections.  She watches me teach during 3rd period and then replicates the lesson during 6th period.  She is doing a great job! She is young and enthusiastic and willing to work with students with a range of abilities.

I would say that anytime a school gets to the point where they have 3 sections of an AP course, they should start training an additional teacher so that, when they go to 4 sections, they can split the course load amongst the two teachers.  There are all sorts of great training opportunities and resources available.  If you are just starting an AP course in your school and so don’t have a current teacher to serve as a mentor, start with the electronic discussion groups that you can sign up for on AP Central.  Post a message asking if there is a teacher in your area that you can visit.  I will be having several visitors observe my classes next week.  In my experience, I have found AP teachers to be very generous with their advice and expertise.  If you are new to the AP classroom, search out a mentor and if you have been at this for a while, find some young kid (all the new teachers look like kids to me now) and take them under your wing.  It’s not enough to pull more students into AP classes if we don’t have teachers prepared to teach them.  Now is a good time to make plans for how you will staff your AP classes next year.

Thanks for reading and keep the comments coming.

Next week:  ideas for promoting your AP class.


One Response to “Building the Next Generation of AP Teachers”

  1. Terri Sebring Says:

    When we saw our enrollment increasing to the point where the future would require another teacher, my principal allowed the new teacher (a former student of mine) to co-teach an entire year with me. This is her second year with a class and she is growing. With the possibility of two BC classes and three AB next year then his decision was smart.

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