The first day of Pre-AP

I will be attending a Pre-AP vertical teaming conference this entire week. I was excited about discussing rigorous classrooms and genuine vertical articulation, but what I found was a lot of talk about giving access to AP classes in Junior and Senior year of high school for all students by giving kids skills to handle AP level work in the middle school. I loved our discussion yesterday about creating equity in our schools. Here are comments, questions, quotes, and group generated writings that I experienced yesterday.

Our group definition for Equity: Access to opportunity with unlimited guidance and support.

We need to eliminate the gatekeepers at our school. They treat learning as an elitist act. You need to socialize students to intelligence. Gatekeepers are teachers who prevent access to learning because they have a problem with a disposition or a type of intelligence.

You don’t have to be the smartest teacher in the world. You simply have to be resourceful.

In order to make sure that kids are prepared, there must be a discussion among teachers about what the expectations will be throughout the years.

Part of learning is failure.

Exposure alone to rigorous curriculum is going to prepare you later in life, as long as the support is there so that students don’t feel like a failure.

Be a talent scout for kids, especially the ones that don’t look like the typical AP-Student.

Strategies are a lifeline for students to be successful in the rigorous classroom.

We should echo students’ language in order to value their background, we should show how our language translates to theirs.

Learning is not a sprint; it is a marathon.

Rubric for Access and Equity

Teachers/Administration Students Parents
4 Actively promote rigorous classes for all students. Are enfranchised to make decisions about appropriately rigorous classes Advocates for an inclusive program and encourages student responsibility
3 Recognize need and working toward greater levels of access for all students Simply Enjoy the diversity Recognize value for all
2 Superficially recognize need, but no action taken (lip-service) Social Expectations Only concerned with own students
1 Gate-Keepers Grade-Grubbing or Apathetic Apathetic or uninformed

Alternate Rubric for Access and Equity

4 3 2 1
Students WANT to enroll in AP courses; there is a waiting list to get in. Teachers actively recruit students to enroll in AP classes An open enrollment policy exists but not many students are interested. Students must all qualify for enrollment in AP classes.
Population of AP classes is diverse Population is diverse Population of ap courses is only partially diverse. Population is elitest
80% of AP students take the AP exam 70% of students take the AP test 60% of students take the AP tests 50% or fewer take test
Resources and support and well established in the building and often used by students Resources are support are available and developing Minimal resources and support available to AP students Little to no support is available for AP students.
AP teachers are given time to collaborate and attend AP training Professional resources are available in building Professional Development resources are available but not well-known or used Teachers research and locate AP info on their own.

In elementary school some parents are helicopter parents, but in high school they turn into black hawk down parents.

What does it mean to be in a rigorous classroom? Does it mean that everyone can get an A or a B? How do we communicate this to students/parents?

In order for a rigorous curriculum to take hold and be sustainable, we must have coordinated support from administration, teachers, parents, and community.

Intelligence is not static. It can be honed and solidified with strategies.

Learning is learning no matter where you are or what you are doing, we only attach elitism when it comes to academics.

You cannot laugh at true learning.

There is no such thing as Pre-AP classes. All classes should provide strategies for students to succeed in a rigorous high school and college classroom.

We need students to have a repertoire of automatic strategies. Students should be able to decide for themselves which one is the most appropriate.

If we don’t use our professional development time wisely (taking it back to the classroom) then we are wasting taxpayer dollars and the time of everyone involved.

Do we need to embarrass our reluctant teachers into signing on to engage in collaboration and academically rigorous classes?

Can we get money to work on weekends toward vertical teams?

I know that as a proficient reader, I have developed my own shorthand and language for coding a text. Is it more helpful to have a set list of codes for reading, or is it better to let students make up their own and create a language similar to the way I did?

If you say: Annotate the text, how many kids would actually do it? What would they think that annotating the text means that they should do?

Never put someone down without showing them the way back up.