3 Things I'm Thankful for This Thanksgiving

3 Things I'm Thankful for This Thanksgiving

I enjoy reading the Facebook posts from my friends each November where they get online each day and post something about which they are thankful. I think it’s important to stop and give thanks, and we often times get too caught up in our fast-paced lives to do that. Thankfully, we have a holiday that reminds us to do just that. Speaking of which, here are three things that I am thankful for during this holiday season...

Read More

Give the TEAM/SWOT Mashup a Try!

Give the TEAM/SWOT Mashup a Try!

The other day, I opened up the TEAM rubric and thought about some of the performance indicators I know I need to improve upon.  I found myself wanting to do a deep dive and really unpack the rubric.  Even though I knew I was strong in many areas, there was still plenty of room for me to leverage those strengths into new opportunities.  I know I have my weaknesses, and I found it helpful to go beyond that assessment and consider the potential threats to keeping those weaknesses.

Read More

When Neutrality Isn't Neutral

When Neutrality Isn't Neutral

Instead of running away from controversial issues in the classroom, I now embrace them. School provides a unique environment in which I can press my students to rise above the political banter and provide evidence for their assertions. Through class discussion, they also have the opportunity to practice the lost art of listening. Believe me, this is a struggle for so many of them; they are often times so eager to get their own point across that they don’t listen to what others are saying. I remember a time when politicians disagreed with, but still listened to, each other and settled upon compromises. Today’s politicians are merely a reflection of their electorates, which need to learn how to genuinely listen to each other.

Read More

Earbuds in the Classroom: Blessing or Burden?

Earbuds in the Classroom: Blessing or Burden?

If music does significantly help students (and that is a big if), what is the solution?  Why doesn’t Pandora or Spotify create a school-specific platform for high school students?  How hard could it be to come up with a solution and partner with schools to offer a fun resource that has limited customization to distract students?

Read More

Stop Adding Value and Save the Teaching Profession

Stop Adding Value and Save the Teaching Profession

My Level 1 rating is insulting and infuriating, and I’m not alone in feeling that way. I know other teachers who have expressed to me their exasperation with their low ratings--to the point of wanting to leave the profession. Clearly, something needs to be done. TDOE’s issues with TNReady is part of the problem, and I hope that they will remedy those soon. The other part of this problem is how teacher’s evaluation scores are determined. It’s beyond time for this state to stop using the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS).

Read More

4 Ways to Make Quarter 2 a Success

4 Ways to Make Quarter 2 a Success

I have two more quarters left (due to the state test coming at the beginning of the fourth quarter) to help my students grow as much as possible. Normally, I don’t make very big shifts to how my classroom operates until the end of the semester. I like to sit back and truly evaluate what’s working and what’s not, and one nine weeks is barely enough time to make this determination. However, I also feel a sense of urgency to do as much as I can to help my students with what time I have left with them. Based on my own reflections and my students’ comments during the first quarter, here are the four shifts I plan to make entering the second quarter of the school year:

Read More

Civic Apathy

Civic Apathy

This past Homecoming Day at my school, I set up a table like I had the previous year trying to get the upcoming high school graduates registered to vote. Whether their political views agree with mine or not, I feel strongly that everyone should have the ability to vote in elections if they so choose. The right to vote is so incredibly powerful that subgroups of American society fought for decades for that right to be extended to them.

Read More

Experiential Learning in Costa Rica

Experiential Learning in Costa Rica

I’m excited to announce that I am planning another EF Tours trip, from June 19th through June 25th of 2018, to a much less depressing location--Costa Rica! Any high school students and their adult family members are welcome to attend. On this action-filled trip, we will participate in an ecological workshop, go zip lining over and through the tropical rainforest, experience a thermal springs, enjoy a snorkeling activity, participate in a local exchange, visit Rincon de la Vieja National Park, enjoy a boat tour of Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, visit La Fortuna Waterfall, and take a tour of a coffee plantation. As awesome as all of this sounds, the best part is that students who attend this trip will have the opportunity to experience being immersed in another culture. No amount of learning from within the boundaries of the United States can replace personally interacting with people in their homeland. There is a limited amount of space available on this trip. Anyone who is interested in going with me to Costa Rica should e-mail me at SteinEFTours@gmail.com before all of the slots are gone, and I will get you more information!

Read More

5 Ways To Find The Balance In Your Life

5 Ways To Find The Balance In Your Life

Teachers inevitably face certain challenges throughout each school year.  Every educator is unique, so what plagues one teacher in August may not affect another until the following April.  Sure enough, though, like Freddy Kreuger stalking you in your dreams, it is inescapable.  I'm talking about burnout, lack of sleep, and the demands of being a full-time everything.  

Read More

Celebrating Our Hard Work

Celebrating Our Hard Work

Despite the fact that Tennessee teachers can’t unionize, the Tennessee Education Association (TEA) has spent the past 151 years staunchly fighting for better working conditions. They have consistently stood up to school boards and school districts when policies are passed that hurt teachers.

One such example of this came a little over a month ago when TEA stood up to the State Board of Education when they attempted to enact a measure that would allow them easier access to punish teachers and revoke their teaching licenses. By law, the retention and dismissal of teachers is a decision made by the local school board and director of schools. The State Board of Education wants to substantially muddy the waters by putting that power into their hands as well. Steve McCloud, TEA assistant executive director for legal services recently said, “A teacher’s license is their most valuable possession, allowing them a livelihood doing what they love to do. Having ambiguous, confusing, and contradictory rules on how a license can be suspended or revoked would be unacceptable for any profession. We certainly won’t allow it for the teaching profession.”

Read More