As I sit here, my 108 AP World History students are taking The Exam. After 34 weeks, 40 chapters, multiple essays, hours and hours of prep, nine after school and spring break review sessions, practice exams, dozens of readings, and too many lectures, it all comes down to a three and a half hour exam.
In some ways, I feel like an old-time expectant father, pacing in the hallway. I have done all I can, I sat with those who showed up for their morning classes, joked around with them, trying to lighten the mood. I answered last minute frantic questions all the way up to the time they entered the rooms to take the exam. Most worked hard for this and they deserve to do well. Now I sit in the library, then my office, waiting.
For me, here’s the scary part: what if I didn’t emphasize the right topics? 10,000 years of history. There is no way I can hit every relevant topic, explore every comparison. It all comes down to 70 multiple choice questions and three essays. Most of what we discussed will not be on the test. We, technically, are not judged by pass rates, but we all want high ones.
Doesn’t matter at this point. They are already almost done with the multiple choice section.
This has been an amazing teaching year. 10,000 years in 34 weeks is impressive. I have never been so intellectually stimulated, between having a majority of the students genuinely interested in the content and learning much of the earlier history (my historical emphasis has been on last three hundred years, anything before that is totally Euro-centric).
Now it wasn’t always so rosy. 10,000 years in 34 weeks is a tremendous burden. Another teacher described it to me as a forced march. We could never stop and explore a topic in any real depth – I did very few projects, barely used the Internet (other then my Moodle portal), and was always being buried by paper.
Next year will be even better. Another teacher is taking one of the three sections (down from four) and we will closely collaborate on lesson development – strengthening the curriculum.
Better take a few weeks off first.