With it being November, I’ve been thinking a lot of what I am thankful for this year. In working with the population I do, I constantly try to give thanks for the food on my table, the roof over my head, and the family I grew up in. As much as I may complain in life, I haven’t had to deal with anything close to that which my kiddos deal with every day.
When I was reading around some teacher blogs tonight, I came across Miss Giraffe’s “Why I’m Thankful for TpT Linky Party” and thought I would get in on the action. I’ve never really talked a whole lot about my TpT journey here, and felt like this was a great opportunity!
Ever since I was little, I LOVED designing things. Some of my favorite childhood designs include:
- A “Gerbil Care Sheet” I left for my neighbor to take care of my pets while I was out of town – complete with no less than 50 gerbil food pellet pictures arranged in a border around the page
- My own Excel spreadsheet scorecard to keep score while watching baseball with my dad
- Tape and CD covers for music I recorded with a boom box off the radio
- Play tests and worksheets for when I played school with my neighbors
While I unfortunately do not have any pictures of said artistic endeavors (believe me, I SCOURED my computer for any remnants of them for you!), you’ll have to just trust me that they looked pretty….uh….fantastic. Fast forward several years, I still loved creating things, but found myself juggling a long commute, growing caseload, and days of endless IEP meetings. I’d come home exhausted with no energy, or any creative juices left in my body.
Then, in October 2012, I was out to coffee with a friend of mine and she asked me if I had ever heard of TeachersPayTeachers. A few teachers at her school had talked about how teachers were making and selling their own original materials and thought of me. She knew I spent a lot of my free time making curriculum for my students and thought it would be a perfect match for me! So I went home that night and browsed around a bit, realizing there weren’t very many school counselors or social workers on it. I posted a few of the products I had made and sat back, not really expecting much. To my surprise, I got a sale the next day…and the next…and then next. Things just snowballed from there into something I never could have expected!
Suddenly I WANTED to plan new things for my students, because it meant I could spend tons of time after work doing something I loved – creating – while also making a little bit of money so that I didn’t feel guilty to be working “outside contract hours” so much. However, I didn’t feel at all like I was “working” because I loved it so much. Sure, it meant many bleary-eyed late nights or early mornings, but it was my release. And through that process, I’ve gotten to be a better social worker too. I’m constantly reading research, looking for best practices, and reading blogs of other professionals to find out what others are doing with their students. I’m spending tons of time doing “professional development,” but not in a board room for 6 hours watching a Powerpoint.
When I come home after a really difficult, exhausting day of work, there is no greater feeling in the world than reading feedback from other teachers, social workers, SLPs, or counselors all over the world about how something I made helped their students. THE WORLD! When I get discouraged that I’m not having much of an impact on the world because I work in a really small district, and 3 of my kids got discipline referrals, and one of them got suspended, and I had to make a child abuse call, and I had an angry parent phone call, I see that something I MADE helped a classroom in Australia! Whoa…
TpT has put respect back into the teaching profession – giving teachers the ability to assert the education and experience we have, rather than assuming the textbook companies know everything. It’s given us power, choice, and a voice in education again and I’m so incredibly thankful for all the people behind the scenes who have worked to make that happen.
But the real reason I love TpT is because it has allowed my husband to stay home with our 7-month old daughter while working on his Master’s degree. We’ve seen every milestone, watched her personality develop, and I’ve gotten to watch my husband grow from the man I married to the incredible father he is. I can’t imagine not having the experiences TpT has allowed us to have by taking care of us financially in the way that it has over the last couple years.
How are you thankful for TpT? Grab Miss Giraffe’s graphic above, write your blog post, and join us for the Linky Party over at Miss Giraffe’s Class!