At the beginning of teacher training this year, I was told that I would be teaching two AP classes to the same period of students. I'm supposed to get these kids ready for both AP tests. This came as a shock to me because I've never taught one of the subjects - ever - at all, and I've never taught the other in AP form. In addition, I've never been to an AP training for this particular content area.
So my initial thought was, "This is the coolest thing ever!" That was a lie. What I really thought was, "Who the hell made that decision?!" Or maybe it was, "I'd like to go shoot myself right now." If you've ever taught an AP course, you know the ridiculous amount of planning and preparation that has to go into it, ESPECIALLY if you don't know the content all that well.
So I went and asked my department head if this was true. And he said, "Yep." And I looked at him. And then I said, "Uhhhh, I'm just letting you know that I don't know what the hell I'm doing with those classes." So he said, "Make sure you read the college board stuff online and we'll send you to a few trainings in October. You'll be fine." I later found out that in order to go to these trainings in October, I'm going to have to give up two of my weekends and go to Baltimore for one of them. But I'm totally cool with that. That was also a lie.
So I walk into my AP class the first day and discover that there are a grand total of six girls in there. I complete my first sentence of the school year with them, which was, "This AP class is one of the most rigorous AP classes around," at which point I was really only left with one student. The rest had apparently been put in the class without their knowledge and promptly dropped by the end of the day. The next day, another girl added the class. With the exception of one other girl who added and then quickly dropped the class, I've had two girls in that class since day two.
Teaching two students is awkwardly intimate, especially when one of them is absent. (Of course, when they're both absent, it's pretty sweet.) But I'm not a big fan of two. I'm the type of teacher who has made a career finding ways to entertain kids with my sarcasm and unusual comments/activities. This usually works in a regular class because there are always a few kids who get you, and they bring the rest of the class with them. But in a class of two, there's a good chance neither one of them "get you." And neither of them really do. I don't really relate with these girls at all. They're both very much high school girls, bordering almost along the lines of a few of the characters in the movie, Mean Girls.
"So shorty was checkin' the caboose out, and I was like, 'Oh please! You gotta put some more time in before you get to tappin' that.'"
"Oh mah gah girl, is you serious?!"
"Uhhhhhh, could we turn to page 47 and get out the DBQs we were working on yesterday?"
"Aight, aight. Girl, we ain't done on that though"
So, needless to say, we're not quite on the same page when it comes to similar interests.
Additionally, when you have to discipline one of your senior AP students for being tardy or not doing their work on time or lying in order to skip class (as my two angels did in the first week), the atmosphere in the classroom becomes tense and awkward. This is a seriously annoying phenomenon when you have to teach for an hour and a half. I kind of feel like I'm their dad in a weird way. After we have that awkward "You need to be more mature" talk, you have to continue dealing with them. When I have that with one of my students in my much larger world history classes, each of us gets to go back to not being in each other's presence immediately following the confrontation. Not so with two kids. It makes it even more awkward, by the way, when the girls are best friends. God knows what they say about me when they leave.
I don't know how I ended up teaching this class, or why, but I do think that somebody, somewhere, seriously messed this thing up. The District of Columbia is spending more than $8,000 paying me to prepare each of these girls ($16,000 total) for the AP exams. That's more than $4,000 per exam! Couldn't I be put to better use?
I don't know. I guess that either way it will be a weird, year-long, learning experience.