How 5 Types of Teachers Prepare for AP® Courses Over the Summer

A textbook and a cup of coffee lay atop a lakeside dock on a summer morning.

As the testing season ends and the last day of school approaches, it’s common for AP® teachers to look ahead toward the summer months and even the following school year. Contrary to the common misconception, teachers don’t get a three-month break from work each year. Instead, teachers are required to take (uncompensated) professional development sessions, pack up their classrooms, and wrap up student documentation and cumulative data folders.

In the few weeks that teachers do have a legitimate break, many require a complete physical and emotional reset in order to feel prepared for the new school year. Still, others teach summer school, work seasonal jobs, or like to get a leg up on the new school year by preparing for it as much as possible. Let’s take a look at how some teachers prepare for their upcoming classes. There are many “types” of teachers who plan for their AP courses over the summer in different ways, and to be honest, most teachers are probably a combination of two or more of them… What type of summer prep teacher are you?

The New AP Teacher

The moment the “new AP teacher” finds out they have been assigned to teach an AP course, they eagerly begin planning out actionable steps to prepare for their new role. During the summer months, the new AP teacher will most likely attend an AP Summer Institute (APSI), find experienced teachers in their subject area for advice and resources, get to know their course content and curriculum, and complete an AP Course Audit. The whole process can be somewhat daunting, yet also exciting–and if all goes well, the new AP teacher will be ready to take on their advanced course subject by the first day of school.

A smiling hedgehog wearing glasses with wide eyes stands in front of a chalkboard.

What’s in the new AP teacher’s summer prep tool kit?

The New AP Teacher Summer Prep Tool Kit
AP Summer Institute (APSI) Mentor Teacher Resources Course Curriculum AP Course Audit
An APSI is a week-long intensive training program offered by the College Board® to help new AP teachers gain the knowledge, skills, and resources necessary to effectively teach AP courses. New AP teachers should seek advice and resources from experienced AP teachers in their subject area to benefit from their expertise, gain insight into effective teaching strategies, and access valuable resources and materials. To make sure they are in line with the standards, expectations, and learning outcomes of the AP program, new AP teachers should familiarize themselves with the curriculum their school mandates for their AP course or seek guidance from veteran AP teachers about a chosen curriculum. To make sure their course aligns with the College Board’s AP standards and requirements, and in order to be permitted to use the “AP” designation, new AP teachers must complete an AP course audit.

The “In the Know” AP Teacher

Two cats wearing science goggles and lab coats work with bubbling chemicals in a science lab.

Like most educators, the “in the know” AP teacher understands how important it is to keep up with the latest changes to their course standards and AP exams. They are particularly adept at this. In fact, they appear to know about every bit of College Board news before anyone else does. These teachers are the people other AP educators go to when they want to find out the latest information without sorting through AP Central and multiple online teacher groups. Not only does the “in the know” teacher check these informational sources regularly, but they also attend optional summer AP courses and professional development workshops for the latest teaching strategies and listen to teacher podcasts to hear what’s being talked about in wider AP teaching circles. The “in the know” AP teacher is the one to know, you know?

What’s in the “in the know” teacher’s summer prep tool Kit?

The “In the Know” Teacher Summer Prep Tool Kit
AP Central AP Professional Development Workshops Teacher Podcasts Online Teacher Groups
To stay informed about changes to the AP program, exam dates, policies, and resources, AP teachers should frequently check AP Central for updates. By doing so, they can make sure that their students are receiving accurate and up-to-date information and that the program’s integrity is being upheld. For AP teachers to improve their teaching abilities, discover fresh teaching approaches, and collaborate with other educators, attending professional development workshops is a great idea. These training sessions can offer helpful resources and support to even the most experienced AP educators. Listening to teacher podcasts can help AP instructors stay up-to-date on current teaching trends and topics in education, providing insights, perspectives, and emotional support from other educators that can inform and improve their teaching practice. Online teacher groups can provide AP teachers with a valuable forum to connect with other educators, share ideas and resources, and stay up-to-date on current teaching trends and topics in education. This can foster a sense of community and support that can positively impact their teaching practice.
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The Data Analyst AP Teacher

There are driven AP teachers, and then there are data-driven AP teachers. Of course, all successful teachers are encouraged to use data to drive instruction, but the exceptional “data analyst” teacher does this even during their few weeks of summer break. In fact, summer is their favorite time of year to sort through student data, benchmark assessments, and previous College Board data reports to make a fresh game plan for the upcoming school year. These analytical instructors have their principal’s number saved under their phone’s favorite contacts; it makes it easier to text them (and their “in the know” teammate) to find out if they have missed any news from the College Board about released AP test scores. When their principal patiently suggests they take a break and do something fun over the summer, the analyst decides to follow their advice. So, just “for fun,” they sign up to take summer AP courses or lead an AP Boot Camp for students where they get to teach AP skills, strategies, and course expectations.

A wise owl in a scarf and glasses looks knowingly into the distance.

What’s in the data analyst teacher’s summer prep tool kit?

The Data Analyst Teacher Summer Prep Tool Kit
Student Data Reports College Board AP Reports AP Boot Camps Their Principal’s Phone Number
AP teachers can use student data reports to analyze student performance and identify areas for improvement, allowing them to adjust their instruction, modify their teaching strategies, and provide targeted support to help students succeed and achieve their full potential in the AP program. AP teachers can utilize the College Board’s released AP exam data reports to analyze student performance, identify strengths and weaknesses, and adjust their instruction accordingly, ensuring that they are providing effective and rigorous instruction that prepares students for success on the AP exam. AP teachers can help pre-AP and first-time AP students prepare for the skills and expectations required to succeed in AP courses by leading a session for an AP summer boot camp. These summer sessions provide targeted instruction, practice, and support to ensure that students are well-equipped for AP. “When I said to save my phone number for emergencies, Ms. Larsen, I didn’t mean you should call me every day in July to ask if there is any news about released test scores. That’s not what I would call an emergency.”

The Pinterest-Perfect Planner AP Teacher

A koala stands in front of a blackboard while sorting through a prior lesson with a pencil.

The “Pinterest-perfect planner” teacher has the experience of a veteran AP educator and the heart of a first-year teacher. They believe even rigorous course subjects should be fun and engaging at all times, and that even AP classrooms deserve colorful paper borders and bulletin board backgrounds of fake shiplap. More than anything, this teacher looks at all of their prior lessons and sees how they can be improved through more engaging activities and well-planned lesson design. Every bell-ringer and exit ticket is accounted for, and the planner teacher’s dream is to have an entire semester’s-worth of lessons planned (and printed on a color-coded template) before the first day of school. Unlike their data analyst co-worker, they enjoy making time for shopping and reading over the summer… Even if it’s shopping for teaching supplies and scoping out books for potential unit lessons.

What’s in the Pinterest-Perfect planner teacher’s summer prep tool kit?

The Lesson Planner Teacher Summer Prep Tool Kit
Multiple Trips to a Teacher Store Local Bookstores Pinterest Teacher-Tok/ TeacherTube
For AP teachers who love organization, planning, and aesthetics, teacher supply stores are great for purchasing planners, manipulatives, resources, and classroom decor. The summer months are an excellent time for AP teachers to find quality reading materials for AP Lit and Lang classes, as well as great references for science, history, and social science courses. AP teachers can find inspiration and innovative ideas for AP preparation on Pinterest, through a vast collection of resources, strategies, and creative activities shared by other educators and experts in the field. AP teachers can access a wealth of teaching tips, preparation ideas, and inspiration through Teacher-Tok and TeacherTube by viewing videos posted by educators sharing their experiences, expertise, and insights on various topics and subjects.

The Rest & Relaxation AP Teacher

The “rest & relaxation” AP teacher is the first to text their teammates about meeting up for a poolside lunch over the summer break but never seems to get their teammates’ texts about upcoming summer AP courses or professional development workshops. The R&R teacher loves teaching AP but understands that in order to be a great instructor in the fall, they need to take a restful break in the summer. This AP teacher values the time they have with their friends and family, vacations, and the time they get to spend with their bed. The only productive tasks they complete are cramming in every needed appointment with a doctor, dentist, and hair stylist into the few blissful weeks of summer break they get. When the first day of their contract arrives at the end of the break, they may be carrying a large iced coffee and wearing a sweatshirt, but they are relaxed and ready to go.

A pug relaxes comfortably at his desk in a hoodie in front of his laptop.

What’s in the rest & relaxation expert teacher’s summer prep tool kit?

The Rest & Relaxation Teacher Summer Prep Tool Kit
Their Bed Swimming Pool Doctor’s Office Large Iced Coffee
Prioritizing sufficient sleep is essential for AP teachers. Sleep optimizes cognitive function, mood, and overall health. It also improves teacher job performance, since chronic sleep deprivation can lead to reduced attention span, memory, and creativity. A lack of sleep can increase the risk of teacher burnout 1, so it is certainly important. “Sometimes [I] see a narrative that the good teachers” are the ones who spend their summers in professional development or in committees planning out lessons. It’s easy, as teachers, to get sucked into martyr syndrome… But martyrs aren’t any good to kids. Students need teachers who are energetic and patient. However, this requires rest.” ~John Spencer2 It can be extremely difficult for teachers to take time off during the school year. Finding a substitute can be near-impossible, and even if a sub is available, preparing lesson plans for someone to fill in for even just one day takes a lot of time and energy. For this reason, many teachers wait to schedule doctor’s check-ups, dentist appointments, and other health maintenance appointments until their summer break. According to a recent study, journalists and teachers were found to drink the most cups of coffee per day compared to the other professions observed.3 Educators clearly love their java!

Key Takeaways

Advanced placement teachers have a variety of ways to prepare for their AP courses over the summer months. Whether they are new to teaching AP or are experienced veterans, these educators decide the best way for them to ensure that they are ready for the fall semester. And of course, the summer months are also a time for teachers to recharge and reset. This way, they can be ready to provide the best quality education for their students in the upcoming school year.

Learn more about how we support AP educators who strive to make a difference in the lives of their students with our Learning Tools for AP Courses.

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  1. The impact of sleep deprivation in teachers. Amerisleep. (2023, April 20). Retrieved April 21, 2023, from,helps%20teachers%20get%20enough%20rest
  2. Making rest a priority in the summer. John Spencer. (2020, October 13). Retrieved April 21, 2023, from 
  3. Teachers and journalists are most addicted to caffeine. (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2023, from 

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