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Almond Takes on AP Literature

Posted 05/11/2016 by Caroline Cech

Jeffrey Almond prepares his sophomores to take AP Lit in several years. photo by Anja Oss

English teacher takes a big step in his career by teaching an AP Literature class for the first time.

Jeffrey Almond is one of the AP Literature and American Literature and Composition teachers at TJ. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in literature from the University of Colorado Boulder in 1988, and his Secondary Teaching Certificate from University of Colorado Denver in 2004. This skyrocketed his career as an English teacher, shaping young minds within the walls of TJ. After 11 years at TJ, Almond is covering new territory: this is his first year teaching an AP Literature class.

Almond taught AP Language in the past, and last year felt that he wanted to return to the AP curriculum. “I was interested in teaching another AP class, but I was also interested in teaching AP Literature because I feel like teaching literature has not been as much the forefront and it seems like we deal a lot with shorter pieces and not so much literary analysis,” Almond explained. Though there are many English classes offered at TJ, each are different and unique in their own way; Almond enjoys longer pieces of writing and more in-depth analysis, which is the focus of AP Lit.

Almond has always loved teaching and working with children. “I used to work in adolescent psychiatry with kids who were in the hospital for extended periods of time. Because they were there all the time, they had to have school and they had a teacher who was there part time. It made me like working with youth and thinking that this could be pretty rewarding,” Almond said. Having a teacher who genuinely enjoys the subject and students is very important. With his enthusiasm for this age group and teaching longer and more difficult literature, Almond is preparing his students for college.

Teaching an AP class is much different than teaching a regular or honors class. Almond explained that there is a lot of weight resting on both the student and the teacher: “There’s the pressure of the AP test, and I think students expect you to guide and teach them to be able to do the test well, and if they’re not able to do the test well, there’s that disappointment that the students think you let them down, and you think you’ve let them down.” Passing the AP Lit exam could mean the difference between taking English in college or not, which is a big deal for students who want to further pursue their education past high school. AP teachers have to not only teach the required material for their subject, but also make sure students are prepared for the AP test.

Almond used to teach AP Language and Composition, which is a primarily junior class offered at TJ. “When I taught AP Language, there were a lot more students. Teaching AP Literature with less students who are seniors are generally enthusiastic about it, and so it’s helped me improve a different kind of teaching ability, having more in-depth, closer intimate discussions about things. I’ve never taught seniors, and it’s let me understand people who are are academically more mature,” Almond said. While many juniors take AP Language, not a lot of students take AP Literature, which makes the class advanced and able to be taught in a different way than regular English classes.

Teaching an AP class can be quite difficult and intimidating, especially when it is a teacher’s first year teaching seniors. “It’s good for people to admit their limitations. Don’t pretend to know every single thing. Teaching an AP class allows you to discover things with the students,” Almond explained. Teaching seniors for the first time is a learning experience for Almond and for every teacher at one point. Staying optimistic and keeping his eye on the goal of passing the AP test at the end of the year is what has motivated Almond the most.

Almond is off to a good start with teaching AP Lit. With a new age group, new teaching style, and new curriculum, he is sure to help his students excel on their AP test.