January 2015 | Teaching in the Tongass

Thursday, January 29, 2015

exactly one year ago

Throwback Thursday time! I'm not in the classroom (still on maternity leave), so I'm reminiscing about how fun this time of year is!

This post originally published 1/30/14:

It's been a loooong time since I linked up for a Five for Friday...so let's get right to it!

1.  In honor of the big commercials game most of us will be watching on Sunday, we made these Football Friend Craftivities!  The kids were so funny about making a prediction about who they thought would win! I waited until after they told me who their prediction was before I put up the colors. I had to laugh when I heard a little peep after they voted, "Can I change mine? I feel sorry for the Seahawks..." Of course you can! Too cute!
 You can pick up your own Football Craftivity by clicking below!

And my blogging friend Molly has a free graphing activity that goes perfectly with this! Click here to grab it and leave her some love while you're there!

2. We had MAP Testing this week. For the most part, I find MAP testing pretty valuable. This year, we've used these laptop carts and students just sit at their regular desks to take their test. In the past, we've gone to the computer lab, which puts our whole school's Intervention schedule out of whack for a while and just sort of a pain in the butt. Having the ability to pick up a laptop and move it to a corner desk because a student is off-task and bugging their neighbor is SWEEEET. I vote laptops from now on :)

3. My sweet new coworker got this lovely note on her desk and I had to snap a pic. The picture on the left is the student yelling at the teacher that she owes him $100 (he wrote cents though!) for making him mad. Wouldn't that be nice if that's how life worked?! She's such a sweetheart and even though I laughed when I saw it, my heart goes out to her (and all of us) that deal with this on a regular basis. I know I'm preachin to the choir here, but THESE ARE THE KIDS THAT NEED US THE MOST!


4.  We just finished our Addition and Subtraction chapters (my district uses Math in Focus). A game that students love to play to practice double digit subtraction with regrouping is Race to Zero (or Race to 100 for addition).  They forget some of the directions (as well as some expectations I added), so I made an anchor chart.
 And storage idea isn't my idea, but it is so useful! I added the number line (with velcro on the undersides of each end to stick to carpet--read more about my Math management here), dice and game markers to make the transition to game playing easier.

And I keep this poster handy just in case :) You can read more about my Math Workshop here

http://tongassteacher.blogspot.com/2013/10/math-workshop-part-4.html

5. And I finally snapped a pic of this audio center. This headphone splitter is AWESOME. 5 headphones listening to the same audio story...easy peasy.

6. and I'm breaking the five rule because this is just 1 more I had to share...we had a mini lesson on "titles" during Writing Workshop and this is the cutest title for a story about a birthday!
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Saturday, January 17, 2015

a super honest post

So, I've just hit my first official TpT Milestone. Woohooooo! I am humbly amazed.  I started officially selling on TpT in March of 2013, so it's been almost 2 years of this wild ride.  If you aren't a seller or are just starting out, please, for the love of God, do not hate me for it! As most sellers do, I've worked my butt off and I can say without hesitation that I've earned that income and I refuse to feel guilty about it. I am so incredibly grateful for all of my customers. I am so thankful for every encouraging word from the beginning of this journey.  I still get excited about every single purchase from the very first item sold.  I will never forget that feeling.  I even took a screenshot of it when it happened! In fact, I take screenshots of pretty much every happy moment I have (I keep them in a file on my computer called "TpT memories"...#nerd).  Here are a few of my favorite memories from the last couple of years:
I know people reading this can feel many things, but I sincerely wish the strange jealousy and snarky half-true comments (another seller/blogger put it best here) didn't come with this part-time job. As a teaching community, and as women in particular, I know we can feel bad about ourselves, but that doesn't mean we can't be happy for others. I didn't hit the jackpot, I work a part-time job. Making that money doesn't come without sacrifices (time spent on a computer rather than playing with my toddler or helping my husband with dinner for instance), just the same as if I were delivering pizza after teaching all day.  

Yes, it is a part-time job, and some weeks a full time job in addition to the other full time job I have as a teacher. Please understand nobody on TpT whips up a worksheet in 2 seconds and gets to the first milestone. It takes time. Lots. of. time. I typically spend about 3-4 hours after school and on weekends (in between taking care of my toddler and now, a newborn). Then there's the marketing, advertising, building relationships, customer service, blogging....it can be a lot at times if I'm not careful.

Please also understand that we put our own money into this job as well (for instance, I spent over $3000 in 2014). All those cute fonts and graphics on covers? Yep, they cost money. You might not know it, but most TpT sellers have a huge investment in clipart and fonts. They cost money to be used commercially (most fonts are about $3-5 dollars EACH). Most clipart bundles are about $5 each (or if you create your own, time spent working on them is how you value them). I also pay $60 a year to sell on TpT. And $100 a year to store my files on Dropbox. And $120 annual subscription for commercial photos (for product covers).  Also, the income is reported when filing for taxes, so a seller has to take that into consideration as well.  These are just a few of the costs of running a business like this. Which is why, every time I hear someone say they only go to TpT for free resources or that they made copies of a product for a coworker (most of the time, that's not only unethical, but illegal), I silently cringe.

I like to think of TpT as sort of like a Costco...they have free samples, but I don't go there for that. The sample helps me decide if I will actually like it.  I can definitely get a sense of a seller's products by downloading a freebie from their store and decide if a paid product is something I would like to purchase.  Plus, most TpT products that cost money are for less than a mocha (there are of course some spendy ones, but those big bundles can be huuuge timesavers and great deals for what you are really getting), so if you do buy something, you can probably feel good about where the money is going (personally, I feel good about giving my hard earned money to another teacher over a big publishing company).  Oh, and I'm not saying you should buy something, but at the very least, I would like people to appreciate the fact that the person (typically a teacher just.like.you) who made the freebie you just downloaded, put money and probably more time than you think into that product.

So, when you download anything for free that you know you will use, LEAVE FEEDBACK. I've said it before and I'll say it again, it's like the tip you would leave your server at a restaurant. It's not required, but it's simply rude not to say thank you. I don't even care if you put a smiley face in the comment section. Just leave something. Anything. Our feedback ratings help our store get noticed.  It's disheartening when I go to download a freebie and see thousands have been downloaded and the seller only has 10 ratings. Sad. Of course, I can't speak for all sellers, but for me, a positive feedback rating is what makes my day. I continue to put out freebies when I reach a certain amount of feedback (the amount is my little secret!). So, head to your "My Purchases" on TpT and "Free Downloads" to make sure you've left some feedback love for the things you've used lately :)

To sum it all up and end on a happy note, I am so incredibly grateful for TpT and the kind people who have helped me get to where I am. I've gained some great friendships and in this online community, a sense of accomplishment. The money I've earned has allowed me to make some changes in my life I will write about later (oh the suspense!). I am taking my family on a Hawaiian vacation this summer and am so excited to see my kids play in the warm sun after this terribly yucky winter we've been having (lots of rain, a bit of snow) and splurging on a super nice hotel for once in my life. I'll probably leave my computer at home so I can really enjoy myself and spend that time with my family. So, from the bottom of my heart and in the weirdest way possible over the internet (hubs calls it the "world wide webs" haha), I want to send a huge thank you to my customers.  This milestone wouldn't be possible without your support! THANK YOU!!!

On another note, my new year's resolution this year is to PLAY. Play with my kids while they are still little. Like I said, this TpT thing can be a little overwhelming sometimes...my to-do list is a mile long and there are only so many hours in a day. I need to remember to be present and focus on my family and not that darn list. Speaking of, someone is asking me to play trucks on the floor with him...
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