Creating AP Students

Now that Labor Day is past, most of us are back in our classrooms and beginning a new school year. I hope that all of us have students who are going to struggle in our classes this year. If you don’t have those students, then perhaps consider that the door to your AP classroom is not open wide enough. During these first weeks of school, I hope we can keep a particular eye on those students who have taken on the challenge of an AP class and provide them with the additional support to be successful.

Some students might need additional time to process the material.

Some might need specific instruction in study skills that other students have
already mastered.

Some might have holes in their foundation that need to be filled.

Our job is not just to teach those who come to us already successful and well prepared to learn. Our job is to take those who are willing and provide them with what they need to become successful over the course of the year. I will never forget the teacher who dismissed a group of kids by saying, “They are simply not AP students.”

I managed to reply (without shouting, testament to my tremendous anger control), “They’re not supposed to be AP students when they come in the door in September. That’s your job. You make them into AP students by the time they walk out the door in May.”

Think about your classroom policies and practices that help students to become AP students. I met a wonderful AP teacher in Pasadena, TX this summer who told me about her invitation-only tutorial sessions, targeting students who might not come in for extra help otherwise. When is the last time you extended a personal, hand-written invitation to a particular student rather than just posting available tutorial times on the whiteboard?

Think about classroom engagement. Do you try to get participation from every student in the room or just take the usual, vocal volunteers? How do you ensure that everyone is with you and understanding the lesson? As much as we are eager to question our students, we also need to question ourselves. Are we really doing what we can to help each student fully develop their academic potential?

It’s late and there are papers to grade. I want to wish everyone in my reading audience a wonderful year full of the hard and important work that will make a difference in the lives of these children. If you are reading this, you are someone who obviously does more than the minimal requirement. Those kids are lucky to have you as their teacher.

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