Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hot Summer Giveaway #3 - $20 for TpT and $20 for Target

Just in time for back to school shopping - enter to win week 3 of NC Teacher Chick's hot summer giveaway to win a $20 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card & a $20 Target Gift Card!  Two of my favorite places!

And be sure to visit tomorrow, when I share how I used some ice cube trays from Wal-Mart to tackle this mess.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Together Teacher Ch 1 Rules Over Tools: Create Your Ideal Week

Today is the first day of our book study of The Together Teacher by Maia Heyck-Merlin.  Every Wednesday from now until Oct. 8th we will be tackling one chapter at a time towards getting our lives more organized.  

Let me paint you a picture of a not-so-together teacher: Rushing into school a Starbuck's in hand, along with bags of supplies (but not all of them - some are still sitting on the counter at home), son's not completed homework, and a headache coming on with the realization that I haven't made copies for the day yet.  I set my child down at a table with instructions to complete said homework as I run down the hall to make those copies.  The printer jams mid-way through and my cursing under my breath is only drowned out by the sounds of my name being called over the intercom.  I forgot about that IEP!  Its not even 8 AM already and I am beyond overwhelmed!

Yes, I admit that not-so-together teacher was me... Something had to give I needed to be just a little more together.  If you are one of those amazingly born organized people, I envy you!  But, if you are not, and that scenario rings a little to true for you, you will want to follow along with this book study!  Author Maia Heyck-Merlin helps us to develop all the tools we need to plan ahead, get organized, an save time!

Chapter 1

Maia Heyck-Merlin opens chapter one by letting us know that It CAN get easier.  She says that organization is a learned skill - one that we ALL can master.  No more excuses!

One thing that I love about this book is that she doesn't recommend costly tools to get organized.  In fact, she gives you ideas to be organized no matter what tools you choose to use - paper or digital.  She does have a few rules though:

The Rules:
1. Get everything in one place.
2. Take it with you.
3. Write everything down.
4. Make it bite-size.
5. Keep like items with like items.
6. Create a trigger for what you put away.
7. Mind your energy levels.
8. No tool is forever.
9. Own your schedule.
10. Pause to plan.

She details each of these rules, and they really make sense.  Why didn't I know these things already? I also love that she gives reflection questions so you can really develop a plan that is going to work for you.

The Tools:
As I said before, the author is fairly neutral as to which tools you use, but she does care that your chosen tools are used to their fullest. No matter which tool you choose to use you want to make sure to have the following:

1. A Comprehensive Calendar that lays out all of your time/meetings/dates in one place.  (This is for both work and personal life).

2. An Upcoming To-Do List

3. Thought Catchers

4. Meeting/ Professional Development (PD) Notes

Maia suggests that you imagine your ideal week.  How you would ideally spend your time in any given week.  She provides a few questions to get you thinking about what you might want to include in this week.  She points out that although this plan is not meant to be followed to the letter each week (she was a teacher and knows about all those meetings that pop up), but it gives you a foundation to start from.

You can find a copy of an ideal comprehensive calendar on the Together Teacher website under Resources:Teacher:Comprehensive Calendar.  You do have to register for the website, but it is free and there are a ton of resources available to you!

Here is my completed version of my ideal week:

If you are following along, I would love to see your ideal weeks too! Link up below!

Next week we will tackle chapter 2 as we build our first tool - The Comprehensive Calendar.  We will also have our first giveaway for an Arc planner system!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Favorite Pinterest Board - Linky

To say I am a bit addicted to Pinterest would be a bit of an understatement!  I am linking up with What I Have Learned to share our favorite Pinterest boards.    All of the boards have ideas, anchor charts, activities, and more - not just a bunch of product covers.

The board I am linking up is Elementary Ideas

A few of my other favorites are:

Elementary Reading

Elementary Math

You can follow all of my Pinterest Boards here.

Do you have a favorite Pinterest Board we should follow?  Link up and let us know!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Together Teacher Book Study

I am so excited to be working on a book study of The Together Teacher by Maia Heyck-Merlin starting this Wednesday!  Each week we will work on a chapter from the book with different blogger hosts.  There will also be giveaways and freebies!

From Amazon:

An essential guide for over-scheduled teachers
Maia Heyck-Merlin helps teachers build the habits, customize the tools, and create space to become a Together Teacher. This practical resource shows teachers how to be effective and have a life! Author and educator Maia Heyck-Merlin explores the key habits of Together Teachers—how they plan ahead, organize work and their classrooms, and how they spend their limited free time. The end goal is always strong outcomes for their students.
So what does Together, or Together Enough, look like? To some teachers it might mean neat filing systems. To others it might mean using time efficiently to get more done in fewer minutes. Regardless, Together Teachers all rely on the same skills. In six parts, the book clearly lays out these essential skills. Heyck-Merlin walks the reader through how to establish simple yet successful organizational systems. There are concrete steps that every teacher can implement to achieve greater stability and success in their classrooms and in their lives.
  • Contains templates and tutorials to create and customize a personal organizational system and includes a companion website:
  • Recommends various electronic or online tools to make a teacher's school day (and life!) more efficient and productive
  • Includes a Reader's Guide, a great professional development resource; teachers will answer reflection questions, make notes about habits, and select tools that best match individual needs and preferences

You can watch this video of the author explaining a little bit about her system and the website where she features both freebies from the book along with other great ideas about organization.  You do have to register for the site to access the freebies, but it is free to register.  As she says in the video, try out some of the ideas and see if they help you become a more together teacher!

I am also still looking for several bloggers who would like to host a chapter on their blog.  I will provide you with the giveaway item and the linky, you just have to write about your thoughts on your chapter.  I would also encourage weekly posts with the other chapters if possible, but you are just committing to the one chapter.  I will highlight you and your blog on my blog the week of your chapter.  If you have any questions feel free to email me or comment below.

If you would like to host a chapter, fill out this form picking your day and chapter.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Five for Friday - July 18, 2014

It's Friday!  Fridays in summer just don't have the same meaning, but one thing is the same - time to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!

This last week has felt kind of like the grand finale of a fireworks display.  You know how they send a ton of different fireworks off all at once?  I feel like this week has been a rush of activities getting ready for the end of summer. Although our kiddos don't go back to school until August 18th - I go back for training and PD on the 31st!  Where is my summer going???

My week started out last Friday with the TpT conference!  I had so much fun and learned a ton!  If you want to read more about my experience (along with my notes from the conference) you can find a link to all of the posts I wrote with my notes here.  That is Natalie from File Folder Heaven.  She has had a website for YEARS but has only recently started selling on TpT.

The day after I got back from the TpT conference we went to the water park for my hubby's company picnic.

Then the next day my husband's uncle came to visit from Boise.  He has a time share in Reno (about 35 minutes west of where we live) and he reserved us a room to staycation with him.

We had to have a silly and serious pose!

Here was my view for the rest of the week:

We spent a lot of time at the pool!

And we finished this crazy week last night at a Reno Ace's ball game!

 It was a crazy week for sure!  I hope you had a good week too.  Link up and share!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Teachers Pay Teachers Conference July 2014 - My Story

I have been blogging all this week about my experiences at the Teachers Pay Teachers First conference in Vegas!  If you missed my previous posts, you can find them here:

                                                                          Session 1
Session 3
Session 4

Now time for my story (I hope it doesn't put you to sleep! LOL!). Make sure you read (or at least scroll to) to the bottom - I have a few freebies and resources I've found for you!

Anyway, it started in February when this happened.

I am really bad about doing things for myself.  My hubby convinced me to register and said it could be my birthday/Christmas present since I hadn't asked for anything.  I agreed and excitedly waited and counted down the days until July.  

My TpT sales were steadily increasing, so it made me feel a little better about making the trip and spending the money.  I am not going to lie, the trip was an expense, but it was so worth it!  My advice to you, start putting away a portion of your TpT sales away each month towards next year.  If your not making enough, make it a goal to at least get there!

I had attended BlogHer a few years ago, and was completely overwhelmed!  There were over 3,000 bloggers there and I never felt so alone in my life.  I didn't meet any bloggers who blogged about things that I blogged about, and I felt a little out of place the whole time.  I was a little nervous that this might happen again.  Luckily, there was a post on the forum at Teachers Pay Teachers about other bloggers who were also nervous.  They also were planning to meet for dinner while at the conference.  I was lucky enough to meet up with Nancy from the Apple Basket Teacher and we decided to go to the Cheesecake Factory.  

Unfortunately, I had no idea where I was going and couldn't find the Cheesecake Factory. Fortunately, I met up with a few teachers who were attending the SDE conference and they walked me the whole way!  They even snapped a few pictures for me!

Nancy and I had a great dinner and chatted like old friends! 

 Then we headed back to the Venetian for a blogger meetup where we met several other blogging buddies.  Meeting all of these wonderful ladies set my mind at ease for the conference.  Teachers really are a wonderful group of people and are so warm and welcoming.  If you are worried about going because you won't know anyone - get that out of your head because you WILL make new friends while you are there!

Even the bigger name bloggers were open and willing to talk to anyone who came up to them.  I got to meet:

and Laura Candler (one of my idols) 

as I was walking to pick up my registration packet and swag bag.  This bag was filled with a water bottle, a pen, and a bumper sticker.  I forgot to take a pic!

The morning of the conference the jitters kicked in a bit as I wasn't sure where to sit.  I didn't see anyone I had met the night before.  

But, again teachers are so warm and inviting I was able to find a table next to some more lovely people.  Besides, I was there to meet new people right?!  If you go next year, definitely step outside of your comfort zone.

At the beginning of the conference they asked us to stand up based on when we had started selling on TpT.  I started way back in 2008 - Rachel Lynette (TpT's 2nd millionaire) was one of the few to stand up with me.  My journey has been much different from hers, and from this conference I realized that this was ok.  Everyone is on their own journey.

A few people balked at the idea of posting on Facebook daily, or even having a blog.  I think that is perfectly ok.  Every one of us should have our own journey and our own pace.  Deanna Jump had said at the beginning that "comparison is the thief of joy" quoting Roosevelt.  I couldn't agree more.  We should each be happy with the road we are on.  Maybe we will all be TpT millionaires and maybe we won't and that is ok.  Each of our paths are different.

Erin Cobb had mentioned that she gave up on things and sacrificed in order to get where she was.  Maybe some things are not meant to be sacrificed by all people.  If you have small ones at home - they need your attention too!  If you didn't go to the conference because of that - again that is ok.  You need to make the decisions that are right for you.  I am going to share my own sales graph. I couldn't commit the time I do now when I first started - I had 6 boys to take care of!  Now 3 of those boys are grown and my other three are 8, 12, and 13 and don't need as much time as they did when I was nursing and potty training.  Even though I am no where near millionaire status, I am very proud of my journey!

I am also proud of the fact that I can share my picture on my blog (I have always been self conscious about that, and I'm not going to be anymore!  I will leave you with this final shot from Vegas at the end of the conference.  I went in the photo booth with Nancy (ignore the middle picture - we thought we had a lot more time than we did! LOL)

During my entire TpT journey (not just the conference) I have gained so much more than the money.  I have gained life long friends, confidence, and empowerment that I never would have had before!

I have a few ideas for collaboration that I will be sharing in the upcoming days.  If you would like to be a part of it send me an email, and I will be sure to let you know ahead of time!

I found a few freebies from other sellers about the conference to share:

Deanna Jump Inspirational Quote Free!

This was a quote from Deanna Jump's keynote speech.  Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd made a few different versions that you could print out and hang near your work space.  I know I will be hanging this up along with my goal pages.

Tips from the TpT Premium Seller Conference ~ Las Vegas 2014

Mrs. Renz' Class put together a set of tips based on her notes from the conference. 

TPT Seller's Conference Notes: Las Vegas 2014

Lisa from Lisa TeachR put together her notes in this free PowerPoint.

I hope you have enjoyed this series!  I also hope that you stick around for other upcoming projects that I hope will be just as useful!

If you have any other TpT or blogging questions (beginner or advanced) let me know!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Teachers Pay Teachers Conference July 2014 Session 4 Notes

It seems like day 4 of these posts has come up so quickly!  Kind of like the conference it is a bit of a blur!  If you missed my previous posts, you can find them here:

                                                                          Session 1

All of the presenters uploaded their session handouts to TpT for free.  You can find the handout for this session here.

TpT Conference 2014 Handout - Session T-19: Accelerate You

When I hear the words interactive notebook, I automatically think Lovin Lit!  Erin has not only dominated the interactive notebook sales, but she has also quickly found a way to the top 100 sellers list!  Here are the notes from her session:

Erin started selling on Teachers Pay Teachers in February 2013.  In just 6 months (yes, 6 months) she had made the top 10 sellers list and reached two milestones. For those of you who don't know, the first milestone is $20,000!  

According to Erin, the first step in sky rocketing your own success is to find your magic ingredient.  For Erin, hers was her interactive notebooks.  

Where do I spend my time?

You need to ask yourself where you are spending your time.  Is it on the products that you are actually selling?  You should spend your time making items that are similar to the ones that ARE selling in your store.  Task cards are popular, but if yours aren't selling, focus your efforts on the things that do sell in your store.

 Does that really belong in my store?

Erin mentioned some items that she had in her store from when she first started.  She says they were awful so she pulled them from her store.  Look at your store with a critical eye.  Do your early products still shine, or do they need to be revamped or pulled from your store.

What's My Magic Ingredient?

This will obviously be different for everyone, but for Erin she said it was her foldables.  She noticed that a product she made with foldables was really popular.  That is when she focused on her interactive notebooks. She also said to make sure that your magic ingredients are also included in your freebies so people can get a sense of what it is you do that makes your products special and uniquely yours.

Use your customers' eyes

Look at your storefront from your customers' eyes. What do they notice when they first see your store?  Erin suggested changing your store banner to reflect what you sell.

Do all of your items fit, or are some of them just fillers?  

It's all about the numbers

When you look at your store, there are a whole lot of numbers to look at!  There is the number following you and the number of votes.  Do your numbers make you look credible.  Buyers will buy from brand new sellers, but many will often go with more established sellers with bigger numbers.

 How can you grow your numbers?  Erin suggests hosting and joining giveaways where entrants are asked to follow you.  One of the first giveaways I joined was one of Erin's! She has also donated items to several of mine as well!

You can also use Flash Freebies to increase your vote number.  I saw a significant upswing when I started doing these things.

Do I really need a blog?

Yes. A blog drives traffic to your store!  Erin tries to blog at least once a week, but she thinks 3 blog posts a week is optimal. You can see her blog here.

Am I Pinning responsibly?

We all know that Pinterest drives traffic to our stores, but people don't want to see pages and pages of nothing but products.  Make sure you pin a mix of items along with your products.  You can find Erin's Pinterest here.  I have been pretty successful with my Pinterest as well, so I thought I'd share mine as well.

Erin also suggested using looong pins instead of shorter pins.  Vertical pins tend to be re-pinned more often.  An example of this is one of her pins:

This Interactive Grammar Notebook is the latest in my series of interactive notebook products for reading and ELA grades 4-8. Click for a list of lessons included. $12

You can make these long pics using PowerPoint and then embed them in your blog posts as well.

Applying for the Newsletter and Advertising

Erin says you should apply for the newsletter every week until you are chosen.  She says it will have an amazing impact on your sales.  She also says to advertise on TpT - I have had decent results with advertising, but I haven't been selected for the newsletter yet.

Like I said in the beginning, I can't believe how fast these posts have gone by!  Tomorrow I will tell you a little more about me, why I attended the conference, and why I will definitely be going again.  I will also be asking about you!  I have gotten a great response to these posts and I heard some people chatting throughout the conference about some things they wish WOULD have been shared that weren't that I am going to be posting about in the future.  

Do you have any must knows or things you are wondering about?  If I know, I will share right away, if I don't I will find out for you!

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