Tuesday, August 25, 2015

ramblings of a teacher on leave

Let's rewind a bit.

Last November, I had another baby. #2. After having him, I started to think about how quickly time had passed with Cheeks (baby #1) and how I'd been feeling like a bad mom after coming home from a day of teaching. I'd give all my 2nd graders the best of me and my own children the scraps (read: exhaustipated--too tired to give a poop). I knew in my heart my own kids deserved better. I knew I would regret it if I didn't do something about it. So, I started fantasizing thinking about what it would be like to not be a teacher next year (as in, right now). From about November to February, I had pretty much made the decision to stay home with my kids the following year. Now, hear me out. This was a pretty easy decision, but incredibly strange for me. Since I was about 8 years old, I've known a few things about my little type-A personality. I've known I wanted to be a teacher (check), get married (check), have a house in my hometown (check), and have 2 kids (check). Pretty basic, suburban American cliche dream right there. So, for me to suddenly realize that I wanted to be a stay at home mom (or really, work at home mom in this case), was very weird for me. Change? I can change my mind? Me? Noooo. I don't do that. Even my friends (also teachers) were a little caught off guard. I remember one teacher friend, let's call her Bibs, on account of the fact that she should wear them, asking me if I was actually serious about taking time off. Even Bibs didn't think I would actually do it, and I don't blame her. After turning in my leave of absence request in February, I kept it a secret. I told very few people. I was so scared to tell my coteacher. We were both hired at the same time 8 years ago and had developed that special bond that only happens when you're lucky (#sisterteachers is what I like to think).  So, when I went to her room to tell her one day during prep, I said, "I don't know how else to say this, but I won't be teaching next year." Phew. Why was that so hard? Her reply? "Me neither! I'm pregnant!" OMG. Relief, then tears. Lots of happy tears. I patiently waited for the leave to be approved by my district (we can take leave up to 2 years and still have the security of being placed in a job somewhere). Then it came and I was so. Dang. Excited. I even made Cheeks stop eating a muffin to pose with the letter so I could capture the memory.
Then, from about February to May, I started to think, "Maybe I'll stay home until both kids are in school." And then, without warning, this summer. "I wonder if I'll ever teach again?" So, my friends. I don't have an answer to my own question (shocking, I know).

What I do know is this. Teaching is hard. Harder than anyone knows. And the funny thing about it all? It's not the actual "teaching" that is hard. It's the other stuff. Constant changes (which I know are necessary sometimes, but c'mon...I just organized that program into a binder system last year...), those parents, those coworkers, those admin.  If you're a teacher, you know what I mean. We love seeing the kids "get it" and feeling like we had some sort of responsibility in that learning.  That's the passion in it all.  I also secretly (not anymore I guess) love that look I get from strangers when they ask what I do. No, not the one that thinks we're crazy and all they can think about is our summer's off (they're jealousy is completely obvious and if they only knew, if they only knew...). No, I mean the look that makes me feel like I'm a good person. The head-cock, "Oh I don't know how you do it! You are a saint!" look.  You know that one.  It's a silent society-pat-on-the-back to make up for all of the negative comments we get the other times from the nay-sayer teacher-haters. And if I took a leave of absence, would that make me a quitter? Would I be judged by my coworkers for leaving? Or worse, would they not take me back as "one of the gang" in a few years?  When friends that aren't teachers talk about their jobs, I often fantasized about having a cubicle job that I could just leave at the end of the day. Or a shift job. Is that crazy?  It sounds sad when I type it now. I think our spouses are about the only people that have a little bit of a clue. Even as a student teacher you think you know, but it's definitely not the same.  Not even close, really.

So, instead of returning to the classroom for my 8th year of teaching last week, I went camping. Yep, camping. I rented a cabin at this beautiful spot here in Juneau called Eagle Beach. As soon as I turned in my leave of absence request in February, I knew I would need a distraction for the days that I would normally be prepping my classroom and the first day of school, so I booked a cabin (you have to reserve months in advance or the spots get taken). While we were out there last week, I realized a few things. I LOVE my children more than I can even stand. It's pretty gross. Like, I cried like a baby poured my heart out to my husband while they were sleeping all cute in the sleeping bags and we were chatting on the cabin porch. I wanted to know why something so powerful and that felt so, well strong for lack of a better word, wasn't tangible. Thankfully, he didn't laugh at me, but instead agreed and started telling me about some studies suggesting something to do with love and all the unknowns about brains (and that's about where my brain turned off..."sciency stuff" past 8 p.m. isn't my thing haha).  It's so hard to explain and such an amazing experience to be a parent.  So, while we were out there to take my mind off of teaching, it became clear that I am on the right path for me.  I think that the common thread I have now with my old self is that I love kids. Whether they're mine or not. And right now, my head is full of wondering what is to come next and my heart is just plain full. I mean, how could it not be?
(and yes, I used the "log" I found in the cabin to doodle instead of log an actual entry--#cantstopwontstop). 

Monday, August 24, 2015

finding commercial use clipart

I often see new Teachers Pay Teachers sellers wondering how to get some great commercial use clipart. The great thing is, you need to look no further than TpT! The clipart sellers on TpT often have hassle-free Terms of Use and don't often have a commercial use limit (some sellers on Etsy limit use to a certain amount of resources sold--so be sure to check first!).  And if you're lucky, you find teacher clipartists (clipartists that have been or still are classroom teachers) that know what you're looking for and create things with your needs in mind! 
First, you'll need to think of the various key words that the clipart you are searching for might be named. For instance, if you're looking for clipart of "planets," you might want to search for "space" or "outerspace" clipart. Typing in "clipart" usually helps with searching as well.

Now, I guarantee that all 1,538 of those aren't clipart. So, you'll need to use the "Top Resource Types" feature to narrow it down a bit. Click on "Clip Art."
Now that you've changed the resource type, you should have fewer "hits." We went from over 1500 to about 300 by doing that. And even these 293 products will have some non-clipart items based on their descriptions that might have related products or if someone accidentally checked "clipart" as their resource type.
Now, your results are default sorted by "Relevance" to what you searched for.  
Let's talk about that price thing for a second before you sort by it (I saw you eyeballin' that option because that's how I roll too!). Lots of artists offer free clipart on TpT!!! However, I will say that if you're looking for your product to stand out a bit, you shouldn't limit yourself by price.  Clipart is definitely an investment. You can claim is at a deductible for your TpT business. Yep, that's right. Plus, if it's something you really like, you can use it on more than one product.  Find a style that fits your needs and invest in some clipart you can get a lot of mileage out of (bundles that include color and black/white versions for instance).  Most sellers tend to stick with just a few artists so that they can sort of build their "brand" with a certain look and use that style of clipart in multiple products, which comes in handy when you have been doing it for awhile.  You certainly don't have to follow this method to be successful, but it's something to think about when making your first few purchases.  

You can even buy larger bundles of clipart and save when there is a sitewide sale (typically in August, November, February and May you can save 28% off during a sale). 
If you are new to TpT and are concerned about spending a lot of money before you're making a lot, you can always sort your results by "Price, Rating or Bestseller" However, this is what sometimes happens. You can end up seeing some great clipart by mistake, but not exactly what you're looking for. 
Now, onto the not-so-fun part. Terms of Use (or TOU as some clipartists call them). These are the guidelines you accept when you use clipart. Some stores have them as individual downloads in their store so you can look at them BEFORE purchasing, like I do:
If it's not in the clipartist's store, it may be on their blog or in a freebie you download. You need to make the effort to find it. I highly recommend you actually find it and then READ IT before purchasing. That's in ALL CAPS because I know many established sellers don't make a point to read the TOU of the clipart they buy (and some are my dear friends that tell me--hi friends!), and if you use it and break the TOU, it might be a big headache you don't want to deal with later.  Trust me. You wouldn't want to buy clipart only to discover that it can't be used to create something you specifically bought it for (for instance, my clipart cannot be used for creating your store logo/banner/blog design). It's awkward for both a seller and a clipartist to deal with (we often see our TOU not being followed and have to send a Q/A or email--just like a seller would if they found their resource being shared in a Facebook group or something similar). Also, if you don't understand the wording or are unsure about something, just ask the seller! Please don't vent about something you bought in the TpT forum or in a Facebook group. Go straight to the source like the respectable professional you are. Leave a Question in their Q and A section of their store or email them privately! You will feel at ease knowing you did and you might even get the answer you hoped for. 
 If you're using clipart to make a free resource that is on your blog or in your store, that is still considered commercial-use. I come across a few sellers that think they don't need to include a credit logo because they made their product a freebie. Not true for most clipartists that require credit. Again, read the TOU to find out. If you make sure to put your own ©copyright on it, chances are you need to credit the clipart as well.  

Once you do find an artist who's style is something you like and who's TOU you can agree to, you can "Follow" them by clicking the little star under their name in their store. Once you do that, you'll be able to see when they upload new products (along with anyone else you follow) by receiving an email from TpT (not an email when each seller uploads a product...that would be a little excessive!).  
And anytime you come back to the homepage, you'll also see new products anyone you follow has just uploaded.
*Ahem, shameless self-promotion (it is my own blog, right?)--I recently made this catalog with clickable links that you might like to check out:
So, I think that's it! It's pretty basic stuff, but I hope that if you are new you were able to gain something from this tutorial! You might also find these helpful:
 If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to leave a comment below!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

yeah...but is it secure?

From time to time I see people discussing how to secure files they create for Teachers Pay Teachers. Everyone that makes resources for TpT has a different way of doing things, but here is a tutorial about how I secure my own files. First, I'm gonna tell you a couple of things. I am not an expert. I don't work for tech support. I'm a teacher, a real actual person and a mom behind this computer screen. So, if something on your computer doesn't look like the post below, please be kind and don't come at me like a spider monkey (all jacked up on Mountain Dew).  You might leave a comment asking a question, but again, I'm not tech support. So, to sum up...be nice and if you don't find what you're looking for, try my best friend, Mr. Google. He's amazeballs and 99% of the time, he answers my questions. What a guy. 
secure pdf
First and foremost, if you don't already create in Powerpoint, and this is your first time reading that you should, TRUST ME. You won't regret moving away from your ol' familiar Word. You can duplicate slides that have the same formatting (copying and pasting in Word doesn't always keep things neat and tidy). It's just easy. I promise. 

So, after you create your document (and pat yourself on the back for finishing that beast! hurray!), you need to save it as a PDF. Here's how I do it. 

First, go to File-->Print. 
 When your print window comes up, check out the lower left corner where it says PDF. Click the dropdown menu.
 Then click "Save as PDF."
 Save it! I prefer to save things to my desktop so I can find them easily. Remember where you saved it!
 Click "Use .pdf"
Now, you can open your PDF you just created. If you are creating for Teachers Pay Teachers and you don't have Adobe Pro, YOU NEED TO BUY IT. Simply saving as a PDF does not secure the clipart you downloaded, or even the text you wrote. Securing the clipart protects it from being stolen (yes, it happens) and if you don't want others taking what you paid for and you respect the time/money/energy of any clipartist, you must do your part in protecting it.  As a clipartist and a teacher, I often am amazed when I open a file I download on TpT that isn't secure. If it has my own clipart, I usually go back to the store and notify the seller (yes, I know this is probably annoying and nitpicky, but so is stolen clipart...so....fighting the battle together and crossing my fingers you don't think of me as a you-know-what). So, this is where Adobe Pro comes in. I used to use Mac Preview to add a password to my files, but then I couldn't add links on my credit page, which is a must when you want return buyers...enter Adobe Pro. Seriously, it's an investment, a tax deductible (yes, here in the US you need to pay taxes on the money you make, no matter the amount), and you won't regret it once you do. Look for a deal around Cyber Tuesday...I bought mine on Best Buy for around $100.

So, now that you've taken my advice or someone else's and you've purchased Adobe Pro and are ready to read how to use it, open up your file.
On the left side, you'll see a little icon with pages (thumbnails). Click it and you'll see your pages appear on the left side.
 Scroll to the bottom of your document.
 Open up the window that has your EXISTING credit page(s) PDF. You don't need to open the files. I like to arrange my windows so I can see both easily. My credit pages are visible on the right. I have them saved as PDFs in both Landscape and Portrait sizes to use whenever I am working with that dimension.  Drag the file icon to the bottom of the Page Thumbnail window until it "pops" into your document.
 Yay! It's in there!
 Now, you're ready to add the ever important security to your document. On the right side, you'll see the option "Tools" with "Protection" and a dropdown menu. Click "More Protection" and then "Security Properties."
 Now you should see this window. Make sure you're on the "Security" tab. Click "Password Security" and "Ok."
 This window will pop up. Click the checkbox "Restrict editing...." and in the "Printing Allowed" options, select "High Resolution" or your buyers won't be able to print your files the way you intend them to.  Make sure the "Enable copying of text, images and other content" is NOT CLICKED. Type a password in the password box (you should probably type something you will remember or something you use already for your TpT business). Click OK.
 You'll need to retype the password.
 Don't let this next window fool you. It says that these things are all "Allowed" only because you haven't SAVED yet. Just click OK.
 Now, "File" and "Save."
 At the very top where your file name is, you should see the word (SECURED). If you don't see that, it's not secured and you probably haven't saved it yet. If you do, congratulations!
So, that's pretty much it. I hope this tutorial was somewhat helpful for you. 
If there's something else you'd like to see in a tutorial, please feel free to comment below!
Here are more tutorials you might find helpful:

linking your credit page

So, you made a document and you're ready for it to be uploaded to Teachers Pay Teachers. But wait! There's more! No, this isn't an informercial. It's just another tech tip :) If you've ever downloaded anything on TpT, you may have noticed something most resources have in common. Credit pages. If you're creating your own resources, read on!
A credit (some people refer to it as a Terms of Use page as well) page(s) serves 2 purposes really. It thanks your buyers and gives them info on you and what you will or won't allow them to do with your resource (for instance, upload to their class website or share in the copyroom with their friends), as well as credits the clipartist/font designers for their hard work in making your resource look as fabulous as it does. Some people use 1 page for info on them and their Terms, and another for the graphic designer credits, while others put it all on 1 page. It really doesn't matter, as long as it's appealing and has the info you want your buyers to see. Here is how I set mine up.

The first step is to create your page. If you haven't already started using Powerpoint, DO IT NOW. Most sellers include a thank you, some terms of use and ways you can follow them on social media and email address. As you can see, I created a landscape and portrait version. That way, I can easily use them for the orientation I am working with.
Here are a couple of fabulous examples of credit pages from some sellers who were nice enough to share what theirs look like (thank you ladies!). Lots of people create a template with all clipartists they use so they aren't forgetting to credit their work, regardless if it's in the product or not. This is a pretty fool proof way to avoid that problem and most clipartists are perfectly fine with it (including myself).
So, now that you've created your document, you need to save it as a PDF. Go to "File---->Print." Yeah, I know you're not printing...do it anyway.
 Now in the print menu, lower left corner, "PDF---->Save as PDF"
Name it. Remember where you're saving it. I prefer to save everything to my desktop so I can find it there later. I have a pretty clean desktop though, so use what works for you.
Click "Use PDF"
Now, you have a PDF of your credit page! Here's the tricky part. If you don't have ADOBE Pro, I'm not sure how you're going to follow the rest of this tutorial. But....if you do, READ on!
Open up your PDF. On the right side, you'll see the TOOLS tab. Click it.
Now click "Content Editing" and "Add or Edit Link."
Now your mouse will change into a screenshot sort of option. You'll need to mark the area where you want your buyers to be able to click on to go to the link. Here I've selected the area around the image of my store profile.
A new window will pop up. Make your settings like this:
Now add the link that you want people to be able to go to (for instance, your own TpT store or the clipart/font store you are crediting--check their Terms of Use to see if it's required--most aren't, but it's a nice thing to do anyway!).
You might want to create links for all of your social media places or related products, especially if it's a free product that is part of a bigger product.
File---> Save.  

After you've created your product PDF, you can just "pop" this page into it! Open the "Page Thumbnails" viewer on the left side. DRAG your file to the bottom and you're set! It already includes the links so you don't have to add them EVER AGAIN! Hooray!!! 
I hope this tutorial post helps and you are now able to create your own clickable credit page! 
You might also find these helpful:

Is there something else you'd like to see in a tutorial? Leave a comment below!