Advice for first-time AP teacher

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by ExtrinsicMotivation, Jan 4, 2018.

  1. Jan 4, 2018


    I'm not technically a teacher (though I'm certified to be one), but rather a long-term sub for a social studies teacher at a high school. This is my third total teaching experience (five months of student teaching, two months at another long-term job). I have been hired to teach an AP history course, and I've been at it for a while (since around Thanksgiving Break). Thing is, I'm feeling burnt out. Don't get me wrong, I love working with the kids and I am fascinated by the content and enjoy teaching it, but I feel as though I'm not doing a good job and it's starting to weigh on my self esteem. The kids seem to like me (not really a thing that determines teacher quality, I know, but at least I'm not hated), but I just have the feeling that I'm doing more harm than good. Students have told me that they understand content better when I teach it as opposed to the actual teacher, but my super self-critical mind sees that as them understanding content because I spoon-feed it to them as opposed to making them work for it. I do a lot of lecture and group discussion, but I just feel when we're discussing a topic I'm confusing them more than helping them. I study basically every night to prepare my lessons, and yet I still feel underprepared. I know it's not an excuse, but having to learn the content essentially overnight and teach it the next day is BRUTAL, especially college level material. Sometimes things move so fast in the AP class that I forget concepts mid-lecture and remember them far after students have left. I'd say my classroom management isn't awful (kids are in their seats, no disrespect, quiet when I need them work/listen) but again they're AP so that's the easy part. Any AP teachers have any tips for working with these incredibly gifted students and avoiding burnout? I want to do the best job I can since I eventually want to be hired at this school/district as a full-time teacher. But on days like this, I just don't feel qualified to teach the subject. I'm going to try to convince the principal to observe me soon, but I'm frightened that bringing her in will hurt my chances of working at said school, especially if I screw things up that day/class/lesson...

    Thoughts? Hopefully the post wasn't too depressing.
  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    May 13, 2005
    Likes Received:

    Jan 4, 2018

    First: Breathe, please.

    Are the students on task and grappling with the content? From your post, it sounds like they are. If that's the case, then I think you need this quote by Ira Glass:

    You clearly appreciate your students and you want to be as good as they deserve. Right now, you can't match your own expectations for competence. What you CAN do is to be realistic about how good you can be right now - and, since these sound like genuinely gifted kids, that means you can appropriately shift some of the burden for classroom content onto them, especially if there's access to appropriate research resources in the classroom. Then your job shifts more to mentoring, to leveraging your additional years of experience and perspective: you help them figure out how to ask questions, how to outthink the test (the part of test taking that is test savvy rather than conceptual knowledge), how to see the bigger picture generally (the part of this class that isn't just about the test).

    And you also need to take decent care of yourself, please. Eat properly, sleep properly, take some walks.

  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Jun 10, 2007
    Likes Received:

    Jan 6, 2018

    How long will you be in this position? If it's going to be for a while, you may want to see if you can attend an AP workshop. I've found them helpful, especially when we get into testing strategies and grading. Knowing exactly what the graders are looking for and hearing their tips can be very helpful.

    My feeling is that in AP there should be zero "spoon-feeding". Students at this stage should be able to dive deep, focusing on making connections and interpreting information.

    Are you doing DBQs?
    futuremathsprof likes this.
  5. Mr.history

    Mr.history Cohort

    May 19, 2012
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    Jan 10, 2018

    Which class are you teaching? I use to AP US history and can help you out if that is the one your doing.
  6. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

    Sep 7, 2010
    Likes Received:

    Jan 11, 2018

    I don't teach AP (yet), but if it makes you feel any better, I have two teacher friends who are 10+ year veterans who are both teaching AP for the first time this year and struggling with the vastness of the content to cover and the depth required compared to a "normal" class. I am surprised the school is even having you teach AP as a first-year teacher -- it's kind of like having someone tackle Mt. Everest for their first hiking trip :eek:

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