AP® Teacher Training and Professional Development
Teachers can be placed into a number of categorical "boxes." They are mentors, advocates, innovators, and role models. Perhaps the most apt description of a teacher, however, is "lifelong learner." Teachers never stop learning throughout the entirety of their careers. On average, they spend 20–30 hours a year on professional development workshops and training sessions.1 AP® teachers are no different, as it is important for them to stay current on the best ways to teach their courses. AP professional development and teacher training opportunities are the very backbone of quality instruction in the AP classroom.
Understanding AP Professional Development
Through AP professional development workshops and training, AP instructors have the ability to learn from experts in their field. These programs give teachers the tools they need to challenge their students with engaging lessons at the college level and make sure they are ready for their AP exams. Just like eating vegetables or getting in at least 150 minutes of exercise each week, professional development is something educators don't always look forward to but understand will give them stronger instructional skills and tools for the classroom. And, just like with vegetables, some professional development sessions "taste" better than others, providing AP teachers with actionable ways to help their students succeed.
The proof of this is in the data. According to the College Board® 2021 AP Program Results:2
Whether or not their school district mandates it, teachers who attend professional development programs enhance their teaching abilities and gain more knowledge about the content standards for their AP courses. Because of this, they are better equipped to help their students succeed. They also learn new teaching strategies that can help them connect with their students and improve what they do.
In an edWeb survey from 20223, most teachers said they took part in professional learning programs because they like to learn about new ideas and instructional practices. Many others participated in professional training for other reasons, like state certification or district requirements.
edWeb 2022 Teacher Professional Learning Survey3
AP teacher training and professional development can help teachers stay up-to-date with the latest developments in their subject area and connect with other educators who share their interests and passions.
Types of AP Professional Development Opportunities
The number of opportunities and types of AP teacher training has exploded in the past few years. Workshops, webinars, online courses, and summer institutes are all available for AP teachers who want to learn new ideas and practices for their AP courses. Each of these has its own benefits, giving teachers the flexibility to choose which type of training works best for them.
Professional Development Workshops
AP professional development workshops are training sessions for teachers where experts in the field teach them new ways to teach and talk about things that are specific to AP. They are usually interactive, including hands-on group activities to create a better understanding of the topic. The overarching goal of these workshops, which can be offered through a teacher's school district or by a third party, is to ensure that teachers can give their students challenging, college-level lessons and prepare them to do well on AP exams.
In AP professional development workshops, teachers may learn more about their content area in general and how to teach it better. They may also learn about the latest changes in their fields, such as changes to the AP exam and Curriculum Framework. Participants may also work together to design teaching materials, look at student work samples, and evaluate lesson plans that they can use afterward in their own classrooms.
The College Board's largest professional development event for AP educators, offering sessions on topics such as course design, instructional strategies, and assessment.
AP Coordinator Back-to-School Workshop:
OnDemand video training session for school administrators who manage the AP program, covering topics such as exam ordering, administration, score reporting, and program implementation.
A professional development program for teachers who are implementing the AP Capstone Program, which includes the AP Seminar and AP Research courses.
AP webinars are online training sessions for AP educators. They are popular in part because, being held online, they are easily accessible. Like workshops, AP webinars are usually led by education experts, and teachers can join from anywhere in the country. Educators can sign up for these webinars online through their school district or a reputable education website run by a third party. The webinar is set up in a way that makes it easy for teachers to join from anywhere on their own computers.
Like in-person workshops, these online sessions also cover a wide range of topics that are relevant to teaching AP courses, such as changes to the AP exam and updates to the Curriculum Framework. Additionally, these webinars serve as a platform for teachers to share their thoughts and ask questions while engaging with other instructors from across the country.
During a webinar, experts usually provide an engaging presentation and a visual slideshow. Just like in-person events, they may also lead interactive discussions (albeit in breakout rooms), icebreaker activities, and group exercises to help people remember important ideas and concepts. Afterward, teachers walk away with a better understanding of the topic and actionable steps to help them lead a successful AP course.
UWorld College Readiness Webinars:
UWorld offers a variety of college readiness webinars that cover topics on college exam preparation, exam and course changes, and teaching strategies for AP educators.
This webinar series covers topics related to using the AP Classroom platform, including how to assign and score practice exams, create assignments, and access student progress reports.
AP Tips from Teachers Webinars:
A series of webinars that cover a range of topics related to AP instruction and assessment, including best practices for teaching AP courses, strategies for increasing student engagement, and updates to the AP program.
Online professional development courses can help AP teachers improve their teaching skills in an asynchronous learning environment. This training style is popular because it is flexible for AP educators with busy schedules.
Several online courses for professional development are available to teachers all over the country. For example, the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI)4 offers online courses for teachers in AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics, and AP Calculus AB/BC. These self-paced training opportunities give teachers a lot of freedom and convenience because they can finish the course at their own speed. Like other forms of AP training, online courses cover a wide range of AP-related topics. Typically, they are made up of a series of modules that include video lectures, interactive exercises, and online discussions with other teachers. Teachers can also use support materials from these courses to help their students learn, such as teaching guides and instructional materials.
AP Summer Institute
AP Summer Institutes5 are intensive professional development opportunities for both new and experienced AP teachers. APSIs feature a number of workshops run by knowledgeable AP educators and cover a wide range of subjects. As the name suggests, these workshops take place across the country or online during the summer months. The College Board offers over 150 AP Summer Institutes in the United States, Canada, and other countries.
In addition to the professional development opportunities, AP Summer Institutes also provide teachers with the chance to network with other AP educators. Teachers who go to an institute can build a network of colleagues who are there to help them, which they can use throughout their careers. By attending an APSI, teachers learn more about how to help their students do well on the AP test and reach their full potential.
Key Components of AP Professional Development and Teacher Training
There are many topics that might be covered in an AP professional development session, and what is covered depends on the type and purpose of the teacher training. Some common topics for these sessions include:
- Lesson planning and the alignment of instruction with AP standards
- Differentiated instruction and meeting the needs of diverse learners
- Educational technology in the AP classroom
- Assessment and evaluation strategies for AP courses
- Classroom management and discipline techniques for AP classes
How to Search for AP Professional Development Opportunities
The above suggestions for AP professional development and training opportunities are not exhaustive. Here are some tips on how to search for additional AP professional development opportunities:
Search for professional learning opportunities through your school district:
Contact your school district's AP coordinator or curriculum director to ask about AP training and professional development opportunities.
Sign up for webinars through mailing lists:
Sign up for mailing lists for AP-specific educational resource companies, like UWorld, which may offer regular webinars and other professional development opportunities for AP educators.
Network with other AP teachers and educators:
Networking with other AP teachers and educators can be a great way to learn about professional development opportunities and stay connected to the AP community. You can join online communities or social media groups focused on AP education, attend local meetings of professional organizations, or simply reach out to other teachers in your district or region.
Staying Up-to-Date with the Latest Trends in the AP Program
The AP program is always changing, with new versions of the curriculum framework, new updates to the exam, and new best practices for designing and giving lessons. By keeping up with these changes, AP teachers can make sure they give their students the most up-to-date information and help them get ready for the AP exam.
There are many ways AP educators can stay current with the latest trends in AP. As discussed in the sections above, one way is to go to AP Summer Institutes or other opportunities for professional development for AP courses. Another way to stay informed is to regularly check for informational updates related to AP, such as those that can be found on AP teacher communities, online professional development courses, and the AP Exam schedule. Teachers can also join AP-related social media groups to stay current on the latest news and trends in the program.
The most effective teachers never stop being students. As an AP teacher, it’s important to keep growing and learning how to hone your craft as an educator for your students. AP teacher training and professional development opportunities are the best way to do just that.
Discover how UWorld prioritizes effective learning and educational development with our Learning Tools for AP Courses.