How difficult would teaching AP classes be for a first year teacher

Discussion in 'General Education' started by kgquick118, Jun 15, 2018.

  1. kgquick118

    kgquick118 Rookie

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    I'll be a first year teacher come August. I'm teaching a difficult subject and I've been out of course work for a while and I want to get my footing and try to figure out things my first year. My district wants me to teach AP also, but I'm not sure I'd be able to do that on top of everything else. I have a terrible habit of putting too much on my plate too fast. Is teaching AP very difficult? Should I probably wait until next year?
     
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  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    As a first year teacher, I'd recommend you do whatever your district tells you to do. Save the opinions for year four.
     
  4. pommom

    pommom Comrade

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    ^^^ yes, but in the same time, she doesn't want to go over board where she is going crazy with mental breakdowns taking on too much at once. As first year, I wouldnt.
     
  5. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    My mom taught AP and was a veteran before they added the program. She has mentioned many times that new teachers shouldn’t be saddled with AP, especially if the district is not going to train the teachers. She went to academies for many summers.

    If they are giving you a choice, I’d decline. If they are “offering” you a choice but it’s not really a choice and is a take it or leave it situation, then insist you get sent to trainings immediately.
     
  6. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    As a first year teacher, do what’s asked.

    If they need you to teach AP, respectfully ask if there are any trainings you can attend that’ll help prepare you. Be positive and upbeat when asking (versus insistent and demanding).
     
  7. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    On the brightside, starting off with AP may be better than starting off with a bunch of lower level classes where classroom management may be a bigger issue. As classroom management is the biggest downfall of many first year teachers, this could be a blessing in disguise.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
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  8. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    I never thought of this as an "issue". I guess it's a good thing my sister was able to student teach in a couple AP classes as well as regular classes?
    The things I've never had to think about doing ECE/elementary :p
     
  9. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Do AP teachers no longer have to have a special training to teach that level?

    As a student teacher, I had the AP class but could not ever solo with that class. As a first year teacher, I was not allowed to have the AP class unless I completed the training. The following year I did the training for AP and pre-AP teaching.
     
  10. kgquick118

    kgquick118 Rookie

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    They want to send me to a 4 day workshop to get the training, if teaching AP classes isn't that much more work, I woulnd't mind doing it, but I've never taught before and don't know what to expect. They asked me if I wanted to teach AP, it wasn't required of me. I said yeah at first because I just wanted to do whatever to make them happy as a new hire, now I'm having second thoughts.
     
  11. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    It is a lot more work, and I don't believe that a first year teacher, one who has been out of course work for a while, is a very good choice IF you hope to be teaching in this district long term. I'm science, and whenever a new person is suggested for AP around here, a very experienced teacher who has been teaching the course generally takes the experienced non-AP teacher under her wing for up to two years. In science AP courses, the teacher puts in as much extra work as the students, but what do I know about other content areas. If the district needs someone "just so they can show they offer AP in that course", they will probably cut you some slack and no one (except the students who fail to qualify on the AP exam) will give you grief. After watching my mentor teacher being mentored, and learning how much went into making her the logical candidate for transition when the experienced teacher retired, I figured AP teaching would only work for me with more experience and training. I, personally, don't think 4 days training will get you there. I would certainly want a solid sit down with the content chairperson, to find out exactly how they see this playing out. Best of luck.
     
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  12. kellzy

    kellzy Comrade

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    Depends on how well you know the subject matter. If it's something you're iffy on don't do it. If you are 100% confident that you know the AP subject inside and out go for it.
     
  13. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    I would temper that with having taken a lot of AP classes, so OP has a real understanding of what is expected. Most students who take AP courses are looking to walk out of the class with a high enough score that allows them to earn college credit. Parents have the same expectations for their children, since they are usually the ones footing those tuition bills. Just knowing the content may not be enough if OP is not well versed in taking, qualifying, or administering all of the extras that AP requires. Like I said earlier, if the district just wants to be able to say that they offer it, but they don't care about the proportion of the students earning high enough scores to earn college credit, so be it. Keep in mind, however, that the parents of these students may have a different view if scores are too low to earn college credit.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
  14. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I can directly relate to this. I had to teach AP Stats the first year I started teaching back at the beginning of the 2014-2015 academic school year. Though, I did start teaching with a Masters.

    Anyway, I was nervous because I had never taught an AP before, but it worked out in the end because I attended an AP workshop before I taught the class and routinely checked in with the math department chair for pointers and tips and tricks. In the end, I was bummed because only 60% of my two AP classes passed the AP exam (24 out of 40), but I used that first year as a stepping stone of what to do and, more importantly, what not to do.

    Definitely look around online for free resources and make an effort to encorporate technology, interactive activities, and practice AP-style questions from day one. Seriously. Do FORMATIVE AP practice MC and FRQ’s from the very first chapter. In my first year, I kind of waited until the second semester to start and that’s probably why 16 students didn’t pass (they all got 2’s...). My AP pass rate is now 98% because I modified my teaching and did the above things.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018
  15. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

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    You didn't share the AP subject you would teach, but from my experience AP is definitely different than regular or honors courses of the same subject. I taught Physics and Honors Physics for 8 years when my P asked about replacing Honors with AP Physics 1. The 4 day workshop was an invaluable experience helping with syllabus writing and teaching via argumentative inquiry techniques.
     
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  16. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    There’s no way on God’s green earth I would have been able to teach AP my first year. It would’ve been a disaster.
    First of all, you need to have strong knowledge of the subject. I’d say at least a masters or beyond. Really I think the only reason I teach it now is because I went back for my masters, attended workshops, and taught for many years. I really didn’t have a firm grasp of the language my first few years. I mean I could speak it, but the intricacies of the language I had not mastered. I really think a native speaker would be better, but there aren’t as many of them in my subject area around here. And only native speakers teach AP Spanish at my school. However, now that I’ve taught it, my students do well on the test because I know the test inside and out and the strategies necessary to do well. Even a native speaker could be ineffective if they aren’t familiar with the test.
    I can only speak for languages though not other subjects. But I think the idea is the same, teach a few years before doing AP would be my advice. You’re really doing your students a disservice if you’re not completely prepared to teach it content-knowledge wise and test familiarity-wise. Thankfully I was fully prepared my first time teaching it and my students averaged a 4.
    Im also looking into being an AP reader which would really help with the grading aspect of AP and what the readers are looking and grading for.
     
  17. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I think it would depend a lot on the district. We have very few kids in AP classes (literally sometimes just one) and there's not much pressure. I started teaching it my first year there. While there was a learning curve, I didn't think it was too bad. The previous teacher left me all of her things, and I mostly just followed her plans for that first year. It was English, which I feel like might be a little easier than some other subjects to teach at the AP level.
     
  18. tchr4vr

    tchr4vr Companion

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    I wouldn't. Not sure what subject, but there is a tons more prep and grading that is required. And it needs to be much more in depth than a standard class. Yes, there is multiple choice, but the majority of the AP test, at least in English and History is essay. Which means you need to know how to dissect the prompts, write them, and then guide students to get them where they need to be. While the 4 day workshops are wonderful, and they will give you tons of resources, there is so much you need to know to decide what you want to pick from those resources. The classroom management part is much easier, because in general, those students already have the intrinsic motivation, or at the very least, parents who have high expectations. However, if your program is like mine, I always have at least half a class that is not really "AP" material--they are great kids, but they are way below where they need to be. As the teacher, you need to figure out how to get them there really fast, while not holding back the ones that are already there. And, generally, there are some really super smart kids, and if they realize that you don't know what you're doing--they could make your life very difficult.

    I am starting my 20th year teaching, and I didn't start my first AP class until I was on year 8. Now, I'm all DE and AP, so I have almost my dream job. But, every year, I still figure out things that don't work and things I need to add. Even though I've been doing this forever, I go to trainings every few years, just to make sure I know all the ins and outs--and most of my kids don't even take the test.

    The kids are great, but there is so much adjustment needed to just be a first-year teacher--it could burn you out. If you have a Masters already in your subject, it might work, if it's only one class, and not too many students (I have 35 in each class, 2 classes of AP - which is too many), and the rest of your courseload is lighter, and you have a good mentor who can help you--it might be a nice way to learn how to really teach your subject, as opposed to managing your class (which is a lot of what first year is). I did student teaching in an AP class (along with Honors), which was to my harm, because I really had no idea how to manage a classroom when I had my own room.

    If they give you a choice, I would say 'Thank you for the vote of confidence, but I don't think that's the right fit for me now."
     
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  19. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    I agree that teaching one student is less daunting than teaching 15, but even that one student deserves a decent shot, with a strong teacher, of being successful. This kind of falls under my earlier comment that maybe the district just wants to "offer" the course without caring about the outcome. That doesn't seem to be fair to even just one student.
     
  20. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    My AP Spanish teacher was a native speaker who’d taught the course for years. We were a highly motivated bunch of kiddos in that class and we all passed with 4s and 5s. It was an amazing experience—especially for those who didn’t speak a word of Spanish prior to entering high school.

    The same group of students all took AP US Government together. Our teacher was brand new and extremely unsure of himself. He always seemed nervous. He made many errors that we had to correct him on. I earned a 3 on the test; however, I had to do a lot of work outside of class to ascertain that I passed. Many of my friends didn’t pass. As a group, we were displeased with our experience. Totally disappointing.

    AP English was a breeze. The teacher was retiring that year and had taught the course for a long time. She knew exactly what to do to ensure that we knew the material and we were able to regurgitate it onto the exam. Easy 5.
     
  21. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I totally agree with this. I think teaching AP math and AP science courses are a totally different ball game than teaching other AP classes. Personally speaking, i think it would be much easier to teach these classes for a first-year than other AP’s.
     
  22. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Not sure I agree that it would be easier for science, at least not for biology. The teacher put in tons of work, often there at 6 am, and still there at 6 pm. That was just one of the classes she taught, so it isn't usually "Oh, you are just teaching the 10 kids in AP bio." Maybe it would be different in physics or chemistry, but not biology..
     
  23. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I recognize that it can take hours setting up a biology lab if it’s the first time you’re doing it, but my AP Bio teacher in high school did not spend hours and hours preparing for his classes and his students all got 4’s and 5’s, though he was a veteran teacher. He said the most difficult aspect of his job was setting up labs in the beginning because he had to spend a long time familiarizing himself with the equipment or relearning how to use certain instruments or just getting the labs to work properly. However, he told me that teaching his classes were none too difficult (even as a first year) because he knew the subject matter through and through like nobody’s business. He also made all his lecture slides were prepared in advance of his getting hired and rarely relied on the school-provided textbooks. This was smart of him because he did not have to modify his lessons according to whichever textbook was used as students learned everything they needed from his detailed and concise lecture slides. Essentially, he just looked up the state standards and AP Bio material from the Collegebord website and included material from each throughout his lessons. This is what I did prior to my getting hired as a high school math teacher. I made lessons, assessments, and activities for every math class that could be taught (Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2/Trig, Precalculus, AP Calc AB/BC, Statitsics, AP Stats). I have tons of mathematical knowledge and so it is second nature to me. If you know your subject very well, then ideas should just flow.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018
  24. kgquick118

    kgquick118 Rookie

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    I could teach AP bio no problem since my degree is in biology, but the district hired me to teach chemistry since I have a minor in it. I have to refresh myself on chemistry and honestly I wasn't that strong in chemistry in college.
     
  25. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    That’s great that you were a biological sciences major, though. Just take a crash course on YouTube or something. That, or watch a lecture series from MIT or some other school. I’m sure you can find lessons online for free. After you do that, you can start writing notes and doing practice problems to refresh your memory.

    Secondly, that’s what happens when you are multifaceted where coursework is concerned. I know someone who is a veteran teacher and she got many different teaching licenses during the economic downturn to maintain her employability (Spanish, English, Fine Arts, History, and the list goes on and on). She regrets it now because she is asked to teach a different class pretty much every period and so she has many preps without a prep period, ironically. I told her to move from her school and only report the licenses that she wants to teach with, but she already has tenure and makes $80,000 so she isn’t willing to do that. You kind of remind me of her a bit.
     
  26. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    OP, did you take a lot of AP classes in HS? If so, you will have some concept of the rigor. If not, this truly will be a learning experience all around. I am one course shy of a major in chemistry, and I know I wouldn't want to teach the class, let alone teach an AP class in chemistry. Let me wish you the best of luck.
     
  27. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Of course they do. Perhaps pressure was the wrong word to use. I just meant that I never felt like their parents would be super upset if everyone didn't get a 5. I also never felt like my job depended on my AP scores, while I have seen that happen in other districts. If I had felt like that, I'd definitely not recommend doing it then. Instead, my district set me up with the retired teacher as well as sending me to the conference. The retired teacher was always willing to answer questions, look things over for me, etc... I felt like that helped way more than anything else could have.
     
  28. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Understood. Just curious, would you have felt as confident without the retired teacher's notes and help? OP sounds as if she will not have those kinds of resources. Being thrown into the deep end without a safety net just seems scary to me.

    I, too, know of districts that hang their hat on AP scores. There, it is produce results or you are out.
     

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