Reflections and Resources from Tarheelstate Teacher: July 2015
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Stop Comparing Yourself to the Highlights Reel

Have you spent a good portion of your summer break making to-do lists of all that you want to change or do better next year? skimming teacher blogs and coming across more to add to your list? reading books that will help improve your and your students' classroom experiences? wish-listing new products on Teachers Pay Teachers? searching pinterest for new ideas? At the start of each new year, my head is spinning with new ideas and changes I want to make. 

As I think about what we teachers put ourselves through during the school year, on the weekends, and on our extended breaks, "Don't compare your behind the scenes with someone else's highlight reel" keeps echoing in my mind {quotation by Steven Furtick}. Perhaps it is because I just showed you my highlight reel ;) In this over-saturated world of pinterest, instagram, facebook, blogs, twitter, and now Periscope, we have to remind ourselves that WE ARE GOOD ENOUGH. You and I have both had amazing teacher moments. We have had AMAZING classroom experiences. We have changed children for one day, one month, one year, and forever. We have made non-readers into readers. We have made sure {those kids} have a snack each day. We have taken risks and tried new things to benefit our students. We have given when we thought we could give no more, and all~in~all, we have kicked ass even on our bad days. 

I'm going to ask you to take a break with me today and stop the "re-inventing the wheel" insanity, not forever, but for just a moment. I think it's time that one of our "End Year's" habits becomes reflecting on what went well in the previous year. It's time to ensure that we focus on the positives and help ourselves plan to take what worked with us into the following year. {If you are already the kind of teacher that naturally does this, I ENVY you. This just isn't how my brain works.}
It feels like summer is slipping through my hands. In three short weeks, I will head back for teacher workdays. I HAVE NOT {specifically} thought a whole lot about the 2015-2016 school year and I will tell you, I'm talking myself down from feeling stressed out. I will be OKAY. I will be AWESOME. Matter-of-fact this will be ONE OF MY BEST YEAR's EVER!

How do we help ourselves feel more CONFIDENT, COMPETENT, AND CAPABLE? How do we stop comparing ourselves to someone else's "blog feed?" It's time to shut out the noise {remember, it's just for a moment, not forever}...
shut  
      out 
          the noise...
and...
trust 
      yourself.

I began learning this lesson around January of this year. Working in my classroom on a post-holiday workday, I had a to-do list that was a mile-long. I had not yet even made concrete decisions about what specific topics I was going to focus on in reading or social studies. {Remember, I'm the whole 4th grade team at my new school!} I was musing over my Civil Rights book clubs and trying to decide if I wanted that time period to be our focus. A voice of reason said to me "What have you done in the past that worked really well?" I immediately thought of my Civil Rights Timeline activity and how successful it was the first time I used it. Rather than scrapping my past lessons and spending my energy and time completely reinventing the wheel, I was able to recall something else I had done with historical fiction that was AMAZING; to launch my Holocaust book clubs in 5th grade, I created an image gallery and had students observe the images silently and respond to each photo in their reading notebooks. It was one of those magical teacher moments. It was powerful as the images stuck with us throughout our read alouds, classroom discussions, and book club  meetings. Why not do a Civil Rights image gallery to launch this historical fiction unit? 

In this moment of clarity, I pulled out something old and used it basically as it was {the timeline activity}, revamped a previous teaching strategy {the image gallery and response activity}, and felt completely renewed and passionate about teaching "yet another 4th grade Civil Rights unit." Not to mention, my plans for the next week or so in reading and social studies were set. When does that ever happen?!?! Rarely in my experience, especially when you have conditioned yourself to constantly start from scratch {but no more}.

After brainstorming my highlights at the end of the school year and paring the list down to a "Top 10," I reflected on "What I Did" and "Why I Loved It" in preparation for my end of year blog series. These classroom activities and routines are now documented on my blog, but more importantly, they are solidified in my memory as things that worked really well in my classroom. Many of my "Top 10" Highlights will be repeated again this year. Some of them will be revamped, and some of them will be used in spirit as I consider what I loved about the activity and how I can replicate it in other areas of my classroom experience and curriculum. 

I'm going to encourage you to grab a pencil and sheet of paper as you brainstorm a few answers to these questions. I urge you to do this for yourself. When did you feel most alive as a teacher this year {or ever}? What were you doing? What were your students learning? During which projects did you see a high level of student engagement and motivation? What new things did you try this year that had you saying "I can't wait to do this again"? Considering your work this year, what are you most proud of? These questions and the others that I have included in the "End of Year Reflection, Beginning of Year Planning Tool" will help you focus on your own highlight reel as you plan for next year. 
Because I grew as a teacher through this reflective process and valued this experience so much, I wanted to create a tool that would allow other teachers to go through a similar process. You will find reflection questions, highlights brainstorming templates, graphic organizers for elaborating on your highlights, and templates to help you plan for replicating your positive experiences next year. I have also included more details about how to use the templates.
 
Are you ready to take time to focus on the positives as you plan for next year? Grab your freebie and comment below with one "ah-ha" moment!



The "End of Year Reflection/Beginning of Year Planning Tool" was an idea that began to grow as I wrapped up my "2014-2015 Top 10 Highlights" posts. I found the process of brainstorming the best parts of my school year, paring the list down to a "Top 10" and considering "What I Did" and "Why I Loved It" to be the best thing I could do as one year ends and another one is soon to begin. Grab this reflection freebie and plan to trust yourself this year! 


2014-2015 Math Highlights: Hands-On Math

My 2014-2015 Highlights list would not be complete without sharing our highlights from math this past year. It involves a lot of great hands-on math ideas, so I hope you enjoy!

If you're on the lookout for great hands-on math activities for your upper elementary students, you're going to love the ideas at this blog post. Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, & 6th grade classroom or homeschool students are going to love the geometry, measurement, place value, area & perimeter, & games found here! You'll even get ideas for math concept sorts. Click through for all the details on how this can improve your math, STEAM, or project-based learning lessons. {third, fourth, fifth, sixth grader}

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Read my full disclosure here.

If you're on the lookout for great hands-on math activities for your upper elementary students, you're going to love the ideas at this blog post. Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, & 6th grade classroom or homeschool students are going to love the geometry, measurement, place value, area & perimeter, & games found here! You'll even get ideas for math concept sorts. Click through for all the details on how this can improve your math, STEAM, or project-based learning lessons. {third, fourth, fifth, sixth grader}


Recall how my new school has a STEAM and project-based learning focus. I wanted to incorporate engineering, project-based learning, and hands-on math activities as much as I could and especially when it made sense.

I tried so many new things in math this year; it was like a "how can I make this hands-on or more engaging" question was always being posed in the back of my mind, especially when it came to math. I could hardly teach a unit without figuring out how to make at least part of it hands-on, engaging, creative, and relevant.

Most of the activities I'm sharing here just seemed to "up the ante" on student engagement for the WHOLE class, which as you know is often a huge accomplishment in math class. Students' excitement towards new ways of learning was cumulatively the best part of my year.

Here's a snapshot of our year of hands-on math in pictures:


If you're on the lookout for great hands-on math activities for your upper elementary students, you're going to love the ideas at this blog post. Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, & 6th grade classroom or homeschool students are going to love the geometry, measurement, place value, area & perimeter, & games found here! You'll even get ideas for math concept sorts. Click through for all the details on how this can improve your math, STEAM, or project-based learning lessons. {third, fourth, fifth, sixth grader}
At the beginning of our place value unit, we made Place Value houses. I was able to incorporate collaboration, engineering, and problem solving. Students had specific value requirements (4 hundreds, 8 tens, 3 ones, etc) that they had to meet when building their houses.

Later, I would ask them to subtract numbers which meant they had to take away some of the blocks and figure out how to re-engineer their houses. I also set up some questions to require students to have to regroup and break their tens into ones or hundreds into tens.

I was super impressed with their designs and I think I sent them the message that our math class was going to be different!

You can grab your own set of base ten blocks here, in case your school doesn't have any (or enough) on hand.
If you're on the lookout for great hands-on math activities for your upper elementary students, you're going to love the ideas at this blog post. Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, & 6th grade classroom or homeschool students are going to love the geometry, measurement, place value, area & perimeter, & games found here! You'll even get ideas for math concept sorts. Click through for all the details on how this can improve your math, STEAM, or project-based learning lessons. {third, fourth, fifth, sixth grader}
During our Area and Perimeter unit, I used many of the activities from the Teacher Studio's Area and Perimeter Activity pack. In one of the activities, students used paper tiles to design a figure with a given area requirement.

Then, they colored the design on grid paper. I decided that we needed to take this activity to the next level by having students trace their irregular figure onto transparencies. See, irregular figures are complicated for students. I wanted them to go from concrete (making it themselves, knowing the area, finding the perimeter) to the representational phase of an irregular figure that did not contain squares meant to scaffold them in finding the area/perimeter. Is it possible to have figures with the same area and different perimeters? You betcha! and this activity surely proved that.

If you're on the lookout for great hands-on math activities for your upper elementary students, you're going to love the ideas at this blog post. Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, & 6th grade classroom or homeschool students are going to love the geometry, measurement, place value, area & perimeter, & games found here! You'll even get ideas for math concept sorts. Click through for all the details on how this can improve your math, STEAM, or project-based learning lessons. {third, fourth, fifth, sixth grader}
Geometry Art: it just makes sense! And my kiddos made some beautiful, cool, neato designs! After creating their design, students traced them on to paper. It was a really interesting challenge to figure out how to go from their design to a drawn copy.

I did my best to require them to make straight lines and to be as "perfectionist" as possible. Many students spent some time redoing their drawing, either at my request or because they personally want to try to make a neater copy.

I planned to have students identify different kinds of angles in their photos {you can photo copy their drawing if you want them to write on it for different purposes}, but as the activity went on, it was unnecessary. This year, I'll be thinking about how I can take this activity from a fun geometry art lesson to something that embeds more concepts. {Let me know if you have ideas for how I can do that in the comments}.

Grab your own pattern blocks from Amazon here.

If you're on the lookout for great hands-on math activities for your upper elementary students, you're going to love the ideas at this blog post. Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, & 6th grade classroom or homeschool students are going to love the geometry, measurement, place value, area & perimeter, & games found here! You'll even get ideas for math concept sorts. Click through for all the details on how this can improve your math, STEAM, or project-based learning lessons. {third, fourth, fifth, sixth grader}

Remember that train of thought that seemed to constantly be in the back of my mind this year? {"How can I make this hands-on or more engaging?"} Well, I s-t-r-ug-g-l-e with making measurement hands-on. I know that sounds silly because it is probably one of the most hands-on math concepts, but I don't just want my 4th graders running around measuring things. I want to go a little deeper and have a purpose.

Well, maybe I hit the mark this year. Before I started my week-long unit on length, a thought hit me: "Is fruit by the foot really a foot long?!?!?!" {I thought about using bubble tape too, but just went with Fruit by the Foot. Bubble Tape might actually be better when it comes to marking the tape so I may try that next year.}

I thought my students would be really engaged in figuring out if it was really a foot. Turns out, I don't eat enough Fruit by the Foot because the pieces are actually about 3 feet long. So, we cut our tape into two 1 foot pieces and had a third piece that was close to 1 ft leftover. We measured the third piece to see the range of lengths we had in the class. Now I'm thinking it would have been perfect to add a line plot graph to this lesson! We "blew up" an inch by marking a 6 inch piece of our Fruit Tape. We marked 1/2's, 1/4's, 1/8's, and 1/16's. It was also perfect review for equivalent fractions as we learned that marks on the ruler have different names.

Can you believe Amazon even carries Fruit by the Foot? Seriously, what don't they have?!

If you're on the lookout for great hands-on math activities for your upper elementary students, you're going to love the ideas at this blog post. Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, & 6th grade classroom or homeschool students are going to love the geometry, measurement, place value, area & perimeter, & games found here! You'll even get ideas for math concept sorts. Click through for all the details on how this can improve your math, STEAM, or project-based learning lessons. {third, fourth, fifth, sixth grader}

Here's the student worksheet I planned before I found out that Fruit by the Foot was NOT a foot long. The "Zooming in on an Inch" part still worked really well. You can see this student's equivalent in the picture.  

If you're on the lookout for great hands-on math activities for your upper elementary students, you're going to love the ideas at this blog post. Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, & 6th grade classroom or homeschool students are going to love the geometry, measurement, place value, area & perimeter, & games found here! You'll even get ideas for math concept sorts. Click through for all the details on how this can improve your math, STEAM, or project-based learning lessons. {third, fourth, fifth, sixth grader}

Perhaps it's harder making measurement hands on because I save that unit for right before testing. We are running out of time and I just need to hit the objectives. Close to testing and needing to spice things up? Absolutely. Game boards? Enough said! 

Well, after length we moved on to capacity. I taught the concepts (highly connecting gallons, quarts, pints, and cups with fraction concepts), we did a little practice, and then I thought, what if they practice more tomorrow by making a capacity-based game board in small groups? 

Well, this turned out to be AMAZING for two reasons: it was {surprisingly} SUPER engaging AND the kiddos created equivalence problems themselves. Can you say NO WORKSHEETS NECESSARY?!?! 

As I worked with groups of students, I focused on helping them understand how to make fractional equivalent problems like 12 cups = what fraction of a gallon? My students went above and beyond as they designed their game board and questions. They wrote up rules for their games and included answer keys. Students had 1/2 of our math time for a few days to complete their game boards, then we spent chunks of time before testing allowing them to switch games and play. {Please check out the gameboard that's named "Race to the Bottom." I just had to chuckle at that one!}

If you're on the lookout for great hands-on math activities for your upper elementary students, you're going to love the ideas at this blog post. Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, & 6th grade classroom or homeschool students are going to love the geometry, measurement, place value, area & perimeter, & games found here! You'll even get ideas for math concept sorts. Click through for all the details on how this can improve your math, STEAM, or project-based learning lessons. {third, fourth, fifth, sixth grader}

My math highlights list would not be complete without sharing the math concept sorts from Meg at the Teacher Studio that I started using this year. I'm not sure how I came across them, but I began using them to launch every unit and fell~in~love.

Concept sorts are great for a number of reasons: eliciting prior knowledge and questions, pre-assessing students' vocabulary in relation to math concepts (and the accuracy of that vocabulary knowledge), and my favorite part was when students began reviewing knowledge and teaching one another. Since they had to agree on where to place the cards as they sorted them, dialogue was critical.

I pulled out the concept sorts before, during, and after learning new concepts. Students often began with the sorts in small groups to encourage discussion. In follow up lessons, students had a copy of the sorting cards all on one sheet (not cut apart) and they recorded a sort in their math journals. (The cards are labeled with letters so it makes it really easy to discuss different ones).

With many of the sorts, I took screenshots of a lot of the cards and put them into a smartboard file so that students and I could discuss them and sort them together. Of course, I included the cards that were tricky and hotly debated when students worked in small groups. This gave me the chance to reinforce concepts and clear up any misconceptions.
If you're on the lookout for great hands-on math activities for your upper elementary students, you're going to love the ideas at this blog post. Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, & 6th grade classroom or homeschool students are going to love the geometry, measurement, place value, area & perimeter, & games found here! You'll even get ideas for math concept sorts. Click through for all the details on how this can improve your math, STEAM, or project-based learning lessons. {third, fourth, fifth, sixth grader}

If you missed a single highlight from my 2014-2015 Top 10 Highlights, find them all here. I've included a few freebies along the way so you definitely want to check everything out!

If you're on the lookout for great hands-on math activities for your upper elementary students, you're going to love the ideas at this blog post. Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, & 6th grade classroom or homeschool students are going to love the geometry, measurement, place value, area & perimeter, & games found here! You'll even get ideas for math concept sorts. Click through for all the details on how this can improve your math, STEAM, or project-based learning lessons. {third, fourth, fifth, sixth grader}

What did you do this year in math that felt really engaging? Did you try a new hands-on math idea that I need to include next year? Please shout it out in the comments below.


Pics from TPT Vegas

Taking pictures with "strangers" is SO not me. I didn't want to scare anyone, but then I thought, these rockstar teacherpreneurs deserve to feel like rockstars and I want my darn picture with them.{Believe me} within 30 minutes of being in Vegas, I was star-struck! My biggest regret is not being gutsy enough to get a picture with Paul or Amy and by the time I was ready to just run up and snap a picture of them, it was time to go! If you go next year, be brave! Take many pictures! You will want them! {Don't forget to read my Vegas ah hah! moments from the teachers pay teachers conference, too!}

So who did I meet in Vegas?

Angela Watson from the Cornerstone For Teachers. I've been following Angela for a while, but I've really been paying attention in the last few months. She has so many articles on her blog that resonate with teachers. One of the first articles that grabbed my attention was "Why I Quit My Teaching Job Mid-Year." The honesty is something ALL teachers need to hear. I hope to write a similar post myself to share my experiences working at the same school for 9 years and then deciding to walk away last year. Angela has a way with wisdom and the ability to say things in such a concise what that they stick with you. Check out her book "Unshakeable: 20 Ways to Enjoy Teaching Every Day...No Matter What." It's a perfect gift for a first year teacher, but also filled with amazing advice that will help seasoned teachers cope with all the challenges we face. I pretty much stalked Angela's sessions, the Motivational Panel and Expand Your TpT Expertise and Impact. In the second session, I literally could not write fast enough. I thought about staying for the second round of that session just to try to soak it in again.
Michelle from the 3am Teacher...what more can I say? I was starting to think that I wouldn't find Michelle, but before a session, I stopped at the business card table and she popped up there! I'm so excited that she's going to be designing my blog and now we've had the chance to meet in person. I LOVED that the hubs could see this whole new blog design thing is legit. Oh, and isn't she so darn cute in person?!?!
Meg from the Teacher Studio was like #1 on my list of teacherpreneurs to meet because I fell in love with her teaching resources this past school year. I feel like I have blog stalked her and enjoy seeing what she's up to in her classroom. I feel like I get her. I think like her. She does a lot of inquiry-based teaching in math. I found her concept sorts for math this year and used them to launch~every~single~unit. I can't see how I could ever teach math without them again! I would've never recognized her but I turned around at the Vegas Blogger Meetup and saw her gigantic logo button and flipped out! "Oh my gosh! I am a major fan!"
I ran into the Evil Math Wizard when I was grabbing lunch! I noticed her logo badge {note to self, logo badges are extremely important for recognition}. I LOVE the Evil Math Wizard's teaching materials. And her store name always makes me think "I'm evil enough to make you LOOOOOVE math. Wahahahha."
At one of our networking opportunities for uppergrades, I grabbed a picture with Jivey from Ideas by Jivey. I think I scared her a little :) but she was such a sweetie! I'm excited to start implementing her Mentor Sentences next year in writing!
I ran into Jen Jones from Hello Literacy and had to snag a picture. I adore her for two main reasons: 1) a love of all things literacy and 2) she lives in the "Tarheelstate" too.
I've followed Laura Candler all of my teaching career. I still remember the file cabinets of free resources that I would peruse through during my planning time. I had to say hello when I saw her at the uppergrades networking opportunity. She's also another teacher in the tarheelstate {notice a trend?!?!}. You can find her blog at Corkboard Connections.
I met Clark from 21st Century Math Projects. Now, he creates resources for high school, but I have been following him since he first began his store because his math focus is on real-relevant, 21st Century materials. In his words "Real World Authenticity, Mathematical Rigor and 21st Century Swagg" are key to strong math projects and lessons. He works hard to make connections between what kids care about in the real-world and how that relates to using math. I can imagine so many students learning more and being "into" math because of the ideas he shares. He's a true role model of mine because I want my math materials and lessons to do more than simply teach the skill.
And the last two pictures, THE Deanna Jump and THE Rachel Lynette at Minds In Bloom. I was star-struck. I was too shy to go up to Deanna at the Vegas Blogger Meetup but after a day in Vegas and seeing so many people I admire, I couldn't stop myself from begging for a pic. Rachel asked what my store was and I said "It doesn't matter who I am. It's YOU!!!" She was so darling. I loved hearing her tell her story during the keynote! These women are truly believable with unbelievable stories!

Can you tell I had a great time? My husband told me last night that he finally figured out his favorite part of being in Vegas. He loved seeing me in my element. He loved seeing me get so excited about people I recognized {and that he knew nothing about} and he loved being there to help take pictures for me. Can you say #keeper? I love that man and I thought it was so nice of him to LOVE this part of being in Vegas!



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#tptvegas15 Take Aways

I've finally recovered from #tptvegas! It was so amazing! Life changing is the best way to describe tptvegas but there are so many other words to say! So much to share! We literally learned from one another, collaborated, and socialized for 3 days straight {maybe longer for those who were able to stay longer!} With that said, I'm going to stay focused in this post on the personal reflections and take-aways I experienced @tptvegas2015. Tomorrow I will share some of the pictures I took with some of my teacherpreneur idols

Mr. Tarheelstate and I arrived on Wednesday around 11 am. It was our only day with some down-time to spend with one another, but we made it to the Vegas Blogger Meet up hosted by some talented bloggers Wednesday evening. They gave away $55,000 worth of prizes and swag from GoNoOdle and Scentos. Over 1000 teacher-bloggers showed up, and it was THIS ah~mazing! The hubby went with me and I think he was blown away that I wasn't a lone teacher-blogger-nerd! He said "I had no idea there were this many of you." Well, these are {just} the ones who showed up in Vegas. #mindblown #teacherpower
I am SO.in.LOVE. with my teacher business now because of this conference. I loved it pre-conference experiences, but now I AM IN LOVE with it. Teacher-drained-burn-out funk GONE! Here's my list of take-aways from my time in Vegas. Feel free to comment to share what you think!

Teacherspayteachers is a gift that I should be utilizing to it's fullest potential. The time I put into my teacher resources business and blog will allow many of my dreams to come true {more vacations, becoming a stay at home mom for a few years, paying off my mortgage well before 30 years, paying cash for a new car, all the other dreams that will open up as income increases}. Now, don't think for one minute that I am currently making enough money on TPT to make each of those come true, but tpt earnings have served me very well in the past three years as I furnished my new home, paid off my Camry, paid for emergencies like a broken air conditioner without it hurting my wallet too much, bought resources and materials for my classroom, and paid for endless other little "needs" that I earmarked my earnings for. Most recently, I've paid for a few {expensive} business needs like a new blog design, a lifetime font license, and my teachers pay teachers earnings will pay for my entire trip to the TPT conference in Vegas last week, which was expensive coming from the East coast and with the hubs along (two mouths to feed!). In the future, teacherspayteachers will also allow me to use my generous instincts more often to help others and pay it forward. 

Realizing that tpt is a gift that I should be utilizing to it's fullest potential is the most important aha! I took about a year off from doing much with my teaching business or blog because I was a burned out teacher. Putting my heart into a teaching resource or a blog post would have been a farce while in the depths of being so done, so I stayed away from most things tpt and blogging related and I still had good earnings. For the past two years, my earnings have actually been nearly the same--a substantial addition to my monthly teacher salary, but not really growing. Was I appreciating the gift that is tpt? Well, I needed the money to keep coming because I have become accustomed to the extra income, but I wasn't appreciating it by continuing to grow my business. I wasn't appreciating it by ensuring that I continue to offer NEW high quality resources.

PASSIVE INCOME IS POWERFUL. I make cha-ching in my sleep. I made cha-ching in Vegas last week while I was enjoying the city or sitting in trainings. I make cha-ching while I'm in my classroom doing my day job. I repeat, PASSIVE INCOME IS POWERFUL. I already believed this before #tptvegas15, but it is a huge aha that I want to impart to other teachers who are not yet building a teacher store. You WANT passive income. I learned not to compare myself to others and to not feel like I am always behind. Get working NOW and focus on the goal, the vision, the dreams and create passive income for yourself and your family.

Attending the teacherspayteachers conference was the best decision that I could have made for myself, my family, and my teaching career {not to mention my teacher-business}. It wasn't easy for me to do. We were in the process of buying a house and spending over $1200 on the hotel and flights for "some teacher conference" might have seemed a little crazy, but I knew that if we took the trip, he nor I would ever regret it. After meeting so many dedicated teachers, educational professionals, and teacherpreneurs, I have an unstoppable drive to continue teaching AND grow my teacher resources business and I have unstoppable motivation for blogging and sharing my knowledge. Not to mention, now I have another planner, a "to do" list that I take very seriously, and deadlines that are REAL. If you are a buyer of my products, lookout for revisions of some of my best sellers, including answer keys that have been highly requested! {Think Human Body Systems and Words their Way Word Searches!}


Teacherspayteachers is a business that makes teaching a LUCRATIVE career. I have no shame in saying this. Many teachers who have not received salary increases are able to balance their low salaries with their tpt earnings. Rather than getting a part-time job that is unrelated to teaching, teachers can work from home (while cooking dinner, doing laundry, spending time with their children) and can build a personal, home-based business completely around their schedule. Want to work in the morning? Do it! Want to work at 12 at night when everyone else is asleep? Do it! Have 3 week breaks because you are at a year-round school? Spend your time and energy developing high-quality teaching resources. You probably already do this for your own classroom anyway. Just make your materials professional, standards-based, and by thinking about how another teacher might want to use or adapt the resources, and BAM! You have a resource designed for your own classroom AND a product for teacherspayteachers that will {surely} help another group of students.   

Teacherspayteachers IS NOT a competition. It's not that there is a slice of THE pie for everyone to take a percentage of; there are multiple pies for buyers to choose from and that makes all of our "pies" better. "A rising tide lifts all boats" is a holy statement when it comes to teacherspayteachers. The environment is ultra-collaborative and supportive. People are willing to giveaway business advice for FREE. We don't worry too much about the copycats because no one can really think exactly how we think and do exactly what we do. Keep moving and people who think like you think will follow you, respect you, and want to know more about what you do in your classroom and what wisdom you have gathered over the years. 


Butt + chair = PROGRESS. While we are not competing with one another, we either ARE or ARE NOT making progress on our own goals and our own business. Putting the butt in the chair is how I will make progress...the.only.way.I.will.make.progress. I can make to-do lists, brainstorm a million ideas, think about awesome things to blog about all.day.long, but if I do not put my butt in a chair, shut the office door, and get in the zone, I will just have an overwhelming list of ideas and no progress. 
Teacherspayteachers is a way to "Be the Change." We are changing lives. Teachers in classrooms using our materials and reading our blogs are changing lives. Teacher bloggers and sellers write helpful tips, host giveways of free teaching materials, create resources (give away a ton for free) and do so much on the world-wide-web that CHANGES teachers' lives and impacts students in classrooms in which we have never stepped foot. When a teacher purchases one of my resources, has more time for their family, finds just what they need in order to actually focus on TEACHING their students, it's a big deal. Teachers who have amazing abilities to change lives in their own classrooms with their amazing ideas SHOULD NOT be holding back. Share that knowledge with others! Can you imagine being a first or second year teacher these days? {Or if you are one??} Beginning teachers have a wealth of ideas, tips, and resources to access right at their fingertips {Hello, Google.} I started teaching in 2005 and I had folders of worksheets that I copied from my cooperating teacher, a few "go-to" books for ideas, but NOTHING in comparison to what is available through teachers pay teachers and on blogs today. I believe we are CHANGING education faster than any government or state initiative or any textbook publisher could ever dream of. 

Collaboration is KEY and fun! See "Teacherspayteachers is not a Competition." As we "come together," we will go further. Educators need to collaborate. We need to have open doors to share our ideas and struggles. I loved our conference theme. It is so encompassing of what teacherspayteachers truly is. My biggest goal for heading to tptvegas (besides having fun and a mini-vacation) was finding like-minded teachers to collaborate with. I really wanted to search out my 4th and 5th grade peeps, but I met so many other teachers that I can ask questions and share ideas with. I feel like the entire point (besides sharing business tips and advice) was to collaborate. Bring us all together in one place and surely we will synergize! I am so looking forward to collaborating with the many teachers I made connections with in Vegas. That, my friends, was priceless! 

I thought there was a possibility that the hubs would say "Well, I went with you this year. You can go alone next year." Before the sun had even set on Wednesday, he was already talking about next year. Next year is a MUST and I am so looking forward to doing it again!!! {Perhaps adding a little more sleep to the equation :) 
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Be blessed ya'll! And love it all, all that you can! 



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