Another Successful Year

Text of the post I left in the AP Biology Teacher Community last night. I extend the sentiment to all of the colleagues that I work with in all of the courses that I teach

I notice that the “Good Luck Tomorrow!” posts are beginning. While I certainly echo the sentiment, I thought I might take a slightly different tack with this post. One of the privileges of being the Moderator is that my soapbox tends to be just a bit higher, and my megaphone just a bit louder. It’s not the type of thing that one wants to use to the point of exhaustion, but I figure here’s as good a moment as ever to give it a whirl.

At this point, for this year, it’s all done. From the perspective of the three-hour exam that all of our students will be taking shortly, there really is nothing else we can do even if we want to (and I have to imagine there are many of us who want to, myself included). There is nothing else we can say, or lesson we can deploy to help further cement the concepts and skills of this course in the minds of the young people that we have had the privilege of working with during this past school year prior to tomorrow’s exam. Speaking for myself, being able to teach this course to my students every year is a singular joy of my working life. I am unashamed in holding to the contention that Biology is the most wonderful thing to be able to teach in specific, and that the ability to think and work scientifically is the most important habit of mind that I could be training my students to utilize. It is the noblest calling I can think of for myself.

Professionally, working with such a talented community of educators as this one is equally rewarding. Looking back on all of the amazing work that folks have done with their students this year, I cannot help but be somewhat awed by the continuing tradition of excellence that is on display in our little corner of the teaching world. I won’t deign to call out specific colleagues in this post (if for no other reason than the fact that this post would become unpleasantly long), but I will note that it is incredible to me that given all of the difficulties that seem to accompany the project of educating students in this world, there are so many remarkably talented teachers who tackle the challenge with zestful grace. I know that I take tremendous nourishment from every one of you who have written in this past year (and all the years prior) to talk about the interesting things that you are doing with your students, and that my own practice is immeasurably enriched for it.

This is an interesting time for AP Biology. Here, at the end of the second “post-shift” year, I think that we are really seeing the fruits of the change in focus in this course and how we approach its teaching. I am encouraged by what I see, and read, and I am excited when I think about the future, and where we are headed as a Community.

I hope that you all will take a moment here at the end to reflect back on the past year. I hope you will think about the successes you have had, and the things that you might consider changing for the future. But mostly, whatever your students might think about their personal 3 hours, and however you might consider the “final result” within the context of your larger project of teaching kids science, I hope that you will all take a bow for a job well done. It seems to me that every one of you have earned it.

As colleagues, you have my deep thanks. I could not ask for a better group to be a part of.