Slice of Life #6: AP English Literature

Slice of LifeI have had a busy summer! It seems to be winding down now that I have completed AP English Literature training. Maybe now that I’ve finished most of my summer PD, I will have a bit more time to blog.

Years ago and early in my career, one of my schools was considering sending me to AP Language training, but I moved on to a different school before that happened. I don’t think my previous principal would ever have considered it for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons I finally did it was that our chief AP Literature teacher was overloaded, and I thought it would help him out.

I had a great week at Fitchburg State University in nearby Fitchburg at the training. The other teachers in my group were a great group of educators. Most of them were public school teachers, so I learned a lot about public schools in Massachusetts. Interesting stuff. Frankly, none of what I heard made me want to go back to public schools, though my own children have received a good education from our local public school system. The system just seems designed to frustrate teachers nowadays. It makes me sad. I am a little on the fence about whether or not to continue pursuing my Massachusetts teaching certificate. In some ways, it seems like such a hassle. I am tempted to go for National Board Certification, even though I know the amount of work involved, principally because I wouldn’t have to worry about the different certification rules for different places. (Is that accurate, those of you who are NBCT?) I have wanted to do it anyway.

As to the AP training, my instructor is a brilliant AP teacher. We got a lot of great tools and no-nonsense advice. I liked her a lot. She really helped me clear up why TPCASTT was not working as well for me as I wanted it to (I was, naturally, doing it a little bit wrong—not totally wrong, but wrong enough that the kids were not doing more than scratching the surface). I was dreading the poetry part, I am not going to lie. I know that teaching AP involves teaching a lot of poetry, and frankly, I was feeling like I wasn’t very good at that, but the tools that my instructor gave me have made me feel a lot more confident. I am really excited about the course and getting going now. I was, I admit, feeling a bit intimidated and not at all sure about AP in general. I still think it should be a bit more open than it is at my school, but I learned a great deal about how it functions at other schools. I also learned a lot about the AP rubric and how to grade. I was fairly consistently two points below what the instructor said the College Board graded several of the essays. I guess if you are going to have a grading issue, then grading a little lower is better than being too high because the students will possibly do better on the exam. By the end, though, I was figuring it out pretty well, and the last round of papers we evaluated, I hit the mark each time. The last few days, I’ve been working on reading the books I want to teach and the course audit syllabus. I am feeling pretty confident about the way the course is shaping up.

In other news, I received my new work computer today, and I backed up my old work computer to an external hard drive and restored EVERYTHING without any help. Woo! I was pretty happy with myself. I am going to work a little bit more on my AP materials before I put the computer to bed tonight. The new install went great. It took a little while (but probably less than two hours). I was nervous when the status bar said the time remaining was over 100 hours at one point, but it turns out that the status bar was lying.

What are you up to this fine Tuesday?

4 thoughts on “Slice of Life #6: AP English Literature”

  1. We should do a Google Hangout and chat about our AP workshops. My instructor was anti TP-CAST and the other acronyms offered by the CB. The session I attended was for experienced teaches, but I wasn’t the only newbie in the group.

    About NBCT certification. Find out what MA offers, what your district offers, whether or not NBCT is tied to your state certificate and/or teaching in a public school for it to count toward a stipend. NBCT has changed quite a bit since I certified. ID no longer offers compensation for it, so when I recertified, I got nothing and paid over $1,200.00 for it. That said, I do think having the credential has provided some opportunities, but you’re already adept at getting those. I received an email from NBCT today about changes in the recertification. My initial reaction is not kind; they now want teachers to recertify every five years rather than every ten years, and while they have changed the requirements–lessened them–they, over a ten year period, are still charging close to $1,200. I don’t know if the initial certification will continue lasting ten years, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t. NBCT says the change is to align w/ state requirements and to make recertification more affordable, but I suspect economics is driving the change, and by that I mean that too few NBCTs are recertifying, so the organization isn’t banking as much as they had bargained for from teachers recertifying. Okay, you know where to find me if you want to talk.

    1. That is all really helpful. You are making me think about whether I want to sink time into NBCT. I don’t know that even if I were in the public schools that I would get a stipend for NBCT, and as I don’t really even have to have MA certification to teach in my school, I doubt it would mean anything for my pay if I did it. Georgia offered compensation for a while and then stopped. Every five years is a lot for all that work. I would be willing to bet you are right about the money driving that decision.

      We should do a Google Hangout. My instructor thought we should share all those tools with students as part of their reading/analysis “toolbox.” I am all for strategies, and those acronyms really do help students learn. I wonder why your instructor didn’t like them? I think our workshop was geared more for new AP teachers. At least that is how it was advertised.

  2. As a public school teacher, I would say that you’re right that the “hoops” that we jump through are a bit irritating. I have contemplated attempting a switch into private school teaching.

    On another note, I really enjoy your blog and wanted to take the time to thank you for writing it. I tried writing workshops as a result of your posts last year, and I loved how they worked in my classroom.

    1. I enjoy teaching in private schools and have done so for over 10 years. There are other drawbacks, but all in all, I don’t think I’d go back to public, and it’s mainly because of the testing culture I’ve seen permeate the public schools since I left. I don’t think I could handle that. Thank you for the kind words. I am so happy writing workshop is working well for you.

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