Tyler Hallstedt’s eighth graders have so much fun in his class, they don’t even realize they’re learning. Hallstedt teaches social studies at Tennessee’s Mt. Juliet Middle School, always providing context and backstory for the content to make lessons relevant. He challenges students with probing questions and encourages debate, incorporating friendly competition via Kahoot! games as he covers and assesses standards. Hallstedt engages every student with deft use of technology and hands-on activities. Students write letters and journals from the point-of-view of indentured servants, colonists and pioneers on the Oregon Trail; write Constitutional amendments and advocate for their passage; and create their own colonies with school, community laws and varying demographics. In 2020, Hallstedt timed his constitutional law unit to coincide with the Presidential inauguration, always looking to connect history with students’ lives. He pushes them to consider how they relate to each other not just as classmates, but as people and Americans. Hallstedt maintains a careful balance, letting students speak their minds while gently reminding them that they have more to learn. These methods deliver—Hallstedt’s students consistently excel on district-administered benchmark assessments.
Hallstedt leads the school’s eighth grade social studies team and professional learning community. He led a districtwide effort to collect high-quality social studies instructional materials, an effort that introduced innovative instructional strategies to both new and veteran teachers. Hallstedt is a team player who steps in when he sees a problem in need of a solution. When an interim teacher joined the social studies team midyear, Hallstedt mentored the new arrival to make sure the teacher succeeded and student learning continued uninterrupted. He has led professional development on how to prepare for observations and coaching conversations linked to TEAM-TN, the state’s teacher evaluation system. During remote and hybrid learning, Hallstedt shared his technology prowess with colleagues to make sure students participating at home had the same opportunities to learn as those in the classroom.
Students can be themselves in Hallstedt’s classroom, not always easy for self-conscious tweens and teens. He cares deeply for their overall well-being, using the Remind communications app to connect with students and their families. Outside the classroom, Hallstedt created and runs the school’s tennis program, coaching the team and organizing a club for students who want to play without competing.
Hallstedt earned a bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies in 2013 from Middle Tennessee State University.
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