The Fourth of July Is Almost Here!

Ah, the Fourth of July. Most Americans will get together with family and friends, fire up the grill, enjoy some tasty drinks, and have a grand old time. I like the fourth. It’s a time to celebrate our freedoms by exercising them. It’s a time to celebrate the ideals that formed the foundation of the United States, the people who wrote down those ideals, and the ways those ideals have changed over time.

And some of us will also watch the Women’s World Cup game between Germany and England. Not decidedly American, but still entertaining.

If you’re like me, though, you can’t stop thinking about this AP Euro redesign. And if you haven’t read my previous blog posts, trust me when I say this is quickly becoming an obsession for me. I’m excited about the possibilities, but I’m terrified that I won’t be ready on August 17th, the first day of school.

To make matters worse, we are all waiting for AP scores to be released on Monday. Yes, this is the moment of reckoning. And for me, it will lead to hours (if not days) of poring over the scores, agonizing about students who performed worse that I thought they would, celebrating great achievements, and occasionally scratching my head wondering how in the world a student scored so much higher than I ever would have predicted.

So here are some pieces of advice that might help in the next few days.

  1. It’s the 4th of July weekend. Set everything aside and enjoy being American (if you are American; if you’re not, then this isn’t a holiday for you, so just keep on with what you’re doing).
  2. Take a moment to reflect on what you have done to help past students become better American citizens. Focus on the ones who got it, who cared, who tried, who made you smile.
  3. Realize that education is the cornerstone of an effective democracy, and you are an integral part in that process. You are helping to shape the future for all of us. Your hard work and dedication is making the next generation of lawmakers, lobbyists, activists, and voters see the world and our country in a larger perspective.
  4. And when the scores come out, don’t take them too personally. There’s only so much we can do in the classroom, and the exam reflects a moment in time. As a colleague once told me, you taught the same class to the students who got 5s as you did to the students who got 1s. You offered the same opportunities and advice, and you gave them plenty of opportunities for tutoring. What they did with all of that is on them, not on you.
  5. Of course, I take all the scores personally and will incessantly talk about each student’s performance with my wife until she gets completely bored and just walks away. And who can blame her?

So take a break from worrying about the fall, enjoy the weekend, and know that you’re doing great work that your students (at least some of them) will remember for the rest of their lives. You are the unsung, and often maligned, heroes of America.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone. You’ve earned it. And so has America!