AP teachers are dealing with a high influx of students across the country taking college level courses in their junior and senior years. Some teachers complain that AP students are in “over their heads,” while others go for special training in collaborative and project-based learning skills in an effort to reach students with different learning styles. In the days of old, AP courses were geared for the verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical child. Today, bright students learn differently. Whether their abilities will all show up in AP classes remains to be seen. Whether students are taking AP classes or not, there are a few basics they need to be college-ready:
1) Understand the value of effort in success. Many students who test well and are considered “bright” don’t learn to challenge themselves and struggle in the post-school environment—career and life. Those bright students and average students who really apply themselves do better over the arc of their careers than those who don’t.
2) Embrace challenge. Many “bright” students get addicted to the 4.0. It is far better to take difficult teachers who challenge you than those teachers who “give” A’s. Students who learn to challenge themselves look for opportunity, create interesting experiences and provide high value in the world of work.
3) Risk: Grow beyond your comfort zone. We all learn by growing and doing things that make us feel uncomfortable, but few students get the value of life experience in addition to book learning. Do the things that you resist with people whom you are not necessarily drawn to—you will grow and at the same time prepare yourself for the working world. Students around the world are doing this in spades.
4) Ask: What else? If we spent half of our energy in this country on solving some of the world’s greatest problems and thinking about what, over the course of two or four years in college can really make you unique, more students would be world-ready than simply college ready.
It is time for all of us to get the 20,000 foot perspective on college-readiness. It is not about getting ready for college, it is about getting ready for college, career and life. Those abilities and skills are inextricably linked. If we continue to prepare for academics alone, we are preparing students for the world of the past. If we focus on project-based learning, connections which students can make in school and out, and people who can actually stretch and broaden their world, they will be ready for the interconnected, global world they are about to enter. AP classes or not, we owe them that readiness.
St. Petersburg Times
by Ron Matus
Twenty-six high school teachers stood with straws in mouths and spoons at the ready. Bowls of M&Ms rainbowed before them.
Pretend the M&Ms are fish, the instructor said, and pretend the straws are fishing poles.
The teachers sucked up the M&Ms with the straws. They scrapped for them with the spoons. As the candy disappeared, a lesson about regulation and natural resources took its place.
This is what Advanced Placement teachers do when they step away from the front lines of an education revolution.
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