Hold Harmless Indeed

Hold Harmless Indeed

Today is Thursday, October 25th and, as of today, I am 29% of the way into the school year. This afternoon, I received my overall teacher evaluation score from last school year (called the “level of effectiveness,” or L.O.E. for short). I have some major issues with how all of this is playing out…

Last year’s TNReady scores were not supposed to hurt my L.O.E. this year. I’ll be completely transparent and use my own scores as an example of how this might not necessarily be true…

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Why We're Relaunching

Why We're Relaunching

Mike and I are excited to announce the relaunch of unpackedu.  You should already see some of the aesthetic changes as we have redesigned the website to make our content easier to access, easier to search, and more reflective of our vision.  Some of the other changes will roll out over the course of this summer, but we wanted to thank everyone who has taken the time to visit this website over the past 18 months. 

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Being the Good

Being the Good

“Hi! My name is Mike Stein, and I’m running for county commissioner. If I could have just a few minutes of your time, I’d like to tell you more about how I plan to improve our county.” I said this phrase dozens of times while walking around my neighborhood knocking on complete strangers’ doors asking for their vote. I never imagined that I would run for county commissioner, or any public office for that matter.

I ran for public office in a community in which I’m not a native and against someone twenty years my elder who had lived here his whole life. On top of that, he had been elected to the county commission and to the school board some time ago when he was closer to my age. Even more daunting is the fact that I had never run a political campaign before and I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t even know that I had to set up a separate bank account for my campaign (though it makes complete sense).

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My 3 New Year's Resolutions

My 3 New Year's Resolutions

Last year in my New Year’s post, I reflected on some areas in which I needed to improve as a teacher. Just to review, I mentioned I “need to do a better job of providing my students with clear learning targets so they have an increased understanding of where they’re going before they get there. This should result in my students’ reflections being more authentic which, in turn, should increase their retention of the material.”

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5 Wishes for Teachers and Students in 2018

5 Wishes for Teachers and Students in 2018

2017 is almost in the books, and it has been a whirlwind in the state of Tennessee.  Students are continuing to show growth, so much so that the eyes of the country are fixed on the Volunteer State.  In districts from Memphis to Maryville, phrases such as “bridge to postsecondary”, “personalized learning”, and “all means all” are contributing to vertically aligned learning communities committed to providing a relevant and demanding education for all students.

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Going Gradeless: My Semester 1 Reflection

Going Gradeless: My Semester 1 Reflection

Now that the first semester is over, I am pleased with the results. More students have turned in revised work than at any time in my teaching career, which means that they are learning from their mistakes and getting better.  Looking ahead to next semester, I feel more confident that I have ingrained my expectations well enough to increase my students’ autonomy. Most of them plan on going to a community college or a university, and they need another shot at having more freedom. I personally need to continue to work at getting more efficient with providing feedback. By the end of Q3, I will have covered almost all of the English 3 standards, which will leave me about a month to go back and concentrate on areas where my students need the most help before they have to take TNReady, the state’s achievement test.

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Don't Tread on Me

Don't Tread on Me

The bleak reality is that there’s little we can do right now to defend public education against the federal government. I kept thinking of a yellow flag with a snake coiled in the middle and the words “Don’t Tread on Me” printed in all caps at the top. How ironic that many of the same people who proudly boast that motto are the very ones who voted for President Trump, who then appointed DeVos to her post. As a public school teacher and as a parent of two girls in public schools, I am sick and tired of being tread on. I’m exasperated, and “fighting the good fight” takes time and energy that I often don’t have after a mentally and physically exhausting day at work.

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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...

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