Last year, I began teaching AP Literature, an experience that’s been both rewarding and stressful. It’s a privilege to work with smart, highly motivated students, and I’ve loved rediscovering stories like Hamlet and Great Expectations through class discussion and student writing.
I’m more ambivalent about The Test: How much time should I spend on practice exams? What do students’ scores really mean, and how much should I care? If they score poorly, does that mean I’ve failed as a teacher?
Two notes I received last week from this year’s AP Literature students reminded me of what being a good (AP) teacher really means:
I’ve been harping on concision all year (“It’s fluff! Get rid of it!”), and The Color Purple was a summer reading novel that many students had not initially enjoyed, so to hear two students make positive connections to this work was energizing.
Teachers, please help me broaden the definitions of successful teaching and learning.