For the better part of a year, we’ve been quietly working. Now that hundreds of educators trust us to deliver content right to their classrooms, we think you should all get to know us a little better!
Q: Who’s the person behind The Unraveled Teacher?
A: I’m Alessandra, and while I do the bulk of the management, I work very closely with my husband, Kirk, in terms of content creation. Together we build and classroom test our lessons and then I take care of the back end of things.
Q: What’s your background in education?
A: Between the two of us, there’s a bachelors and a masters of history and a bachelors in philosophy. Our combined teaching experience spans about 18 years and ranges from grades 6 to 12 and has covered middle and high school English, English as second language, world history, US history, European history, Human Geography, AP Seminar, journalism, and high school philosophy. We’ve also taught in three different countries!
Q: What’s your favorite subject to teach?
A: It’s philosophy 100%. High schoolers love talking about the ideas and problems covered in the class, and there’s nothing better than some genuine excitement for the content from teens! Check out this post to see how we approach this subject matter. After philosophy, I’d say I love teaching financial literacy. I’ve always found a way to work it into my high school English classes. It’s such an important topic that is hyper relevant to every student that walks into a school.
Q:What do you guys do outside of education?
A: Kirk is an ice hockey player and reads a lot. I’m a runner and ultramarathons are kind of my deal. I don’t really run unless I can go an absurd distance that makes most sane people cringe. We are both avid travelers and are eager for our toddlers to get just a little older and for international travel to become a little easier after recent events.
Q: What made you decide to start creating and selling lessons for other teachers?
A: The answer to this question is long. This was never the original plan, but our lives took a huge turn when COVID hit. We were actually living and teaching in China when the outbreak began. For Chinese New Year break in January of 2020, we were on vacation in Okinawa (a beautiful place by the way) and that’s when the rumblings of a coronavirus were circulating but no real action had been taken yet. The day before we were supposed the fly back to Shanghai, we heard that Shanghai Disney had closed and that Wuhan had been locked down. Transportation out of Shanghai was closing down and the route we needed to take from the Shanghai airport to our home in Kunshan was not open. We ended up flying to Korea where we have family and friends and we attempted to wait out the outbreak so we could return home. Of course that did not work out and after about two months of floating in limbo in Korea, we decided to give up and return the the States. I was pregnant with our second, so I needed a more permanent place to stay than the floor of someone else’s home in a country I was largely unfamiliar with.
Coming back to the States was a bit of shock to be honest. We ran into the issue of Stateside lockdowns which basically meant I couldn’t work because there was no way I was getting two little kids into daycare. The cost of living is obviously much higher and we had to start from scratch. We had no car, no house, no health insurance, and heck, I didn’t even have maternity pants which I desperately needed! This is when I had to take a hard look at how to leverage my teaching experience to keep us afloat. I set up our storefront on Teachers Pay Teachers and started translating our lessons into user friendly material for other teachers. It’s literally what saved us!
What started as a desperate attempt to rebuild our lives in the midst of world chaos turned into something really wonderful. We were able to fill a need (it can really tough to translate dense philosophical texts into digestible lessons for high schoolers, but my husband is really talented with this) and provide time-saving resources to teachers that needed them. Teaching is something we are passionate about so turning that into a job that helps other teachers is just a great feeling.
Q: What are your current projects?
A: We are wrapping up an ethics unit for high school philosophy classes and then moving onto a political philosophy unit. While Kirk hammers out the content for those, I’m working on materials for AP Euro and adding to my financial literacy line.
Q: Do you offer any free teaching resources?
A: Yes! I’m a believer that individual teachers shouldn’t have to come out of pocket to get what they need for their classrooms. Take a look below for some of my favorite free offerings. As far as our paid products go, I’m really happy to note that my sales data indicates that more schools are purchasing lessons for their teachers. I don’t sell on any platforms other that Teachers Pay Teachers for this reason. TpT offers school and district subscriptions that allows teachers to get what they need without buying with their personal money. While these purchases are not free, at least the correct entity is making the purchase!
This graphic organizer helps students grasp the geography of early civilizations in the Americas. It’s completely free and is available as a printable download or as a digital Easel by TpT assignment.
A scavenger hunt is a great way to introduce your poetry unit or celebrate National Poetry Month in April. It’s fun for students and helps them familiarize themselves with important poems and poets without getting into the tough stuff. Get your free print and digital copies here.
This favorite freebie is just for teachers. It includes lots of budgeting sheets and planners that are specific to teachers. Teachers have unique financial situations and we have to make sure we are covered in the summers so we can relax and recharge properly! Get your free budget sheets here!