I can’t believe I have been writing and selling for two years, and I have yet to tell my story. For that, I apologize, because I do believe it has some value to anyone who is thinking about starting their own Teachers Pay Teachers store. Or perhaps you are just getting started with your store, and you need a little inspiration to get you going. Either way, this is my TPT story, and this is how it saved my career.
In order to understand my journey better, I would like to rewind to October of 2010. Let’s just say I was at school number one. I had always been an effective teacher with glowing evaluations. I was loved by parents, kids, and the administration. I would always say “yes” and I took an active role for many committees, clubs, and planning meetings. I was that type of employee who would do anything to stay in good standing with the administration. At school number one, I would see a lot of teachers get bullied by the administration, and I prayed that I would not be next on the chopping block. I did anything I was asked of, and I did it willingly. I got things done, and I did it with an enthusiastic smile.
On the campus of school number one, there was “The Dreamer.” Now, there are dreamers who will set realistic goals they can achieve, and there are unrealistic dreamers. She was the latter of the two. It was like she was on a natural high for life, and had so much energy it seemed everyone else was less than sufficient. To me, it appeared fake. You know the type…wanting to save the world one child at at a time. She would assign us tasks that required us to make material that was not developmentally appropriate for kindergarten. Sorry, but a kindergartener is not going to know what 39+13 is in the first quarter. We sometimes had to tell “The Dreamer” how kindergarteners think. She was a little much. I would avoid her at all costs. For example, I would look around the hall corners when I walked on campus. If I saw her coming down the hall, I would walk really fast and go the other way. I don’t think I was the only one that did this.
In the Spring of 2012, a new law passed about early childhood requirements for kindergarten teachers. I found out that unless I took classes and did a student teaching internship in a preschool or daycare, I would not be qualified to teach kindergarten anymore. So I had to make a decision on what grade level I would teach the following year. I chose to go to second grade. I knew I would love it, and I was very excited about this new placement.
In the Fall of 2012, I began teaching second grade. It was the best thing ever. I loved it, and I was doing a great job. Of course, you have to consider the learning curve when you switch grade levels. I did not want “The Dreamer” trying to coach me in my classroom. The phrase, “Let me figure it out!” should have been the theme that year. Since we had a very fast-paced reading program, it was important to prepare for those lessons. I remember working all weekend long to try to figure it out. I would make myself printables, and I would reformat many of the activities so my classroom management wouldn’t lack while learning the program. “The Dreamer” came into my classroom the first day of teaching this program. I don’t even want to go into the follow up appointments I had to make and the countless meetings I had to attend before and after school. I felt like I was going to suffocate. I didn’t know how I was going to get through the year. There are some things in life you can not prepare for, but I am pretty good at figuring things out.
And that year, I decided that I needed to leave. I wasn’t prepared for the $10,000 pay cut, but I didn’t care. The money was not worth it at that point. My friend, Jennifer from Simply Kinder kept telling me about TeachersPayTeachers. I am forever in debt to her because of her persistence to get me started in the right direction and ultimately to change my life. We both worked in the same district, so she knew what I was going through. I was so wrapped up in what I was doing, my exact thoughts were, “Why would I want to put another thing on my plate?” It took me a while, but after a few district mandates, (that made my life hell) I finally decided that I needed an outlet, so I started a store in October of 2012. I was tired of depending on a school district to determine my salary for my entire career. I was tired of having small amounts of money dangled in front of me for huge tasks like running a club or committee. I was tired of being told that I will get certain amounts of money if I do W,X,Y,and Z. I was tired of feeling like I was stuck. I knew I had great ideas, and I wanted to share them with more than just my colleagues at my school. I knew I had instructional talents, so blogging and selling on Teachers Pay Teachers was that creative outlet to all the things that drove me crazy about our educational system.
I realized I could have the power to influence classrooms across the world. This opportunity had my name on it for years, I just had to take that first step and actually do it. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I was writing blog posts, and making products whenever I had a free second. I finally found the outlet I was seeking for so long. I never made a dime for two months. I knew TPT was for me, and I knew I would eventually be successful. Even if I had to wait.
Since I started, I have never stopped thinking about how to make by business better. I want to provide the best experience for my customers, and in order to do that, there are some careful steps you must take to ensure that. The first thing you must be willing to sacrifice is time. Above all things, time is the one thing you need to be really successful. I had to figure many things out. I taught myself how to use PowerPoint, and I used Google a LOT! I think I punched the keyboard of my computer more than once. Thanks to Google, I got through the learning phase of powerpoint and the world wide web. (If you think you can navigate the web, try creating content on the web!) But it was and still is all worth it. I was not afraid to make small investments in my business. I started with purchasing basic clipart, and then slowly I was able to afford a blog design. After selling for two years, I have invested much more into my business. I never once questioned or held back on any of those investments.
Two years later, I am reflecting on how much better of a teacher I am because of TPT. I have never been one to seek the approval of my colleagues or people like “The Dreamer.” I escaped school one and “The Dreamer.” I probably avoided many “Dreamers” by leaving. I took matters into my own hands, and I took charge of my future. I love sharing, and that hasn’t changed. I just decided to expand the reach of my ideas. I knew I was worth more than teaching in fear and being talked down to. I was worth more than “hoping” I wouldn’t be next on the chopping block.
I was worth going to “School 2” despite the $10,000 pay cut to be happy. I have more time to teach and learn from the whole child, and not just a child that is a number on a spreadsheet. I have the creative freedom to do what is really “best for kids.” I enjoy working and going the extra mile to make things great for my students. I love to see their faces when we do something really wonderful. I am constantly looking to improve, because I compete against myself. I am more reflective, because of all the writing I do regarding my practices in the classroom. I am fully immersed in a community of top-notch TPT teacher-sellers, and the relationships I have built are invaluable.
Thinking forward, I realize I may not always have my own classroom, but I will ALWAYS be involved in education and working with schools. If you have a talent or a gift, I highly encourage you to start a TeachersPayTeachers Store. Just Google “Making Your First Product on TeachersPayTeachers. There are so many FREE resources and posts to help you get started. The only one holding you back is yourself. You have it, you just have to let others realize that your materials are worthy of the internet as well as an online marketplace. If you don’t have an account yet, be sure to click the link to start your seller store or the graphic below to get started!