Monday, July 13, 2015

Viva Las Vegas! A TPT Conference Linky Party

Hi, all! I am just back from Vegas (as in, I got home at 2:00 this morning!), and after a completely wonderful and exhausting (in a good way) trip, I am so excited to share all about the 2015 Teachers Pay Teachers Conference!

My very first Vegas experience began super-early on Thursday morning, when my four roomies (all fantastic teachers from my school) and I arrived at the Venetian Hotel on the first day of the conference.  We got in at about about 7:30am Vegas time, so we had time to tour the hotel, eat a little breakfast, and check out the casino before heading downstairs to the Conference area. In the future, I'll definitely plan to arrive at least the day before the conference to allow time for settling in and attending the humongous Blogger Meet-up, but for a first-timer, it was just neat to be there and take in the sights upon arrival.

Later on Thursday morning, I attended the First and Second Grade Networking Meet-up, and it was sooo neat to meet teachers from all over the world who love TPT just as much as I do!  Here I am with the absolutely sweet and adorable Amanda from Mrs. Richardson's Class.

Here I am with one of my former colleagues from my favorite school in Tennessee! So cool to accidentally bump into her during a fantastic session!

And, last but not least, here I am with the fabulous Kristin from A Teeny Tiny Teacher. She definitely is Teeny Tiny and hilarious! Loved her!

During the day on Thursday and Friday, I attended some A-MAZ-ING Sessions that ranged from a Panel of some of my favorite bloggers, to a session on Instagram, which I am totally new at, sessions on Data and using Facebook to build your business, and a truly motivational and inspiring session from Angela Watson on Expanding your Impact. Through these sessions, I learned so many awesome ideas, practical tips and techniques, and I got to know some truly inspiring fellow TPT Curriculum Designers!

I learned so much at the conference that it is hard to put it all into words, but here are three of my biggest takeaways...

1. Find your niche, and present yourself as an expert in your area.

This idea was discussed by so many presenters, and it really makes sense! They discussed finding your strong area and building off of that in order to strengthen your presence as a successful TPT Seller. As a first grade teacher, I feel like my niche is pretty broad right now since I teach so many subjects, but I have become more aware of my strengths, so I am going to try to focus my efforts more towards those areas.

2. Find "Your People" and stick with them!

The idea of "finding your people" was mentioned in several of my sessions, and it really resonated with me. First, is the idea of finding your particular audience. Find "your people," or teachers with similar needs and issues that you have, and then share blog posts, ideas, and create products that solve the problems of "your people." Next, comes the idea of finding similar teacher-authors and bloggers to network with. It can be so tempting to look at all of the more experienced groups of teacher-bloggers and wonder how to "get in" with them, but it is more beneficial and a better use of your time and efforts to find bloggers and authors who are similar to you either in audience, subject area, geographic location, number of followers, etc. and create collaborative groups that are going to benefit each member of the group.

3. Use your blog and social media as a way to build relationships, not as a marketing tool.

This was huge for me! I've really struggled with the idea of using my blog, new Instagram account and Pinterest boards to "advertise" my products, and I feel so much better knowing that I don't necessarily have to or need to do this to build followers or sell my products. I really enjoy using my blog as a place to share teaching strategies and ideas, and I'm loving sharing more of myself on Instagram, so it is nice to know that I can continue to use these outlets as avenues for sharing myself as a teacher rather than focusing on using them to showcase my products.

I learned so much in each session, and I look forward to sharing some new tips and tricks with you in the next few weeks as I get ready for Back to School time!

Until next time, here are a few pics from the few days following the conference where I got to celebrate one of my best friend's thirtieth birthday, see a fantastic Cirque show, ride the High Roller, and eat some delicious food! Although Vegas probably isn't exactly my kind of town, I had a wonderful experience, and cannot wait to go back next year!  P.S. If you'd like to check out more TPT Vegas 2015 stories, check out the linky party being hosted by the Elementary Entourage! Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Currently: July 2015

Hey there! I'm back, and although I might have gotten too distracted to post last night while working on my TPT Conference Binder, I'm linking up with Farley for July's Currently Linky Party!

Listening - I am obsessed with the Songza app (and no, they don't pay me!) A fabulous teacher friend introduced to to me this year, and I love it so much more than Pandora--no annoying commercials to listen to! It's great! When I'm not listening to Princess Party Mix with my girlies, I love to listen to the Acoustic Versions of Pop Songs Station. The Civil Wars redid Michael Jackson's Billy Jean, and it is amazing!

Loving - My favorite summer ice cream treat, a Nerds Sonic Blast, which might not actually be on the menu. As a child, I loved getting Nerds Blizzards at DQ, but they don't make them anymore. Bummer. Sonic doesn't technically make them either, but since they have Nerds Slushies on the menu, they'll gladly make a Nerds Blast for you if you ask nicely. Delish!

Thinking - This summer has flown by! With swimming lessons and trying to wrangle my girlies everyday, it has just gone so fast! Neely turns one in a few weeks, and I haven't even begun to think about her party or scheduling pictures yet...Guess I'll add those to the to-do list!

Wanting - A new blog design. I am on Gabby's waitlist for my makeover, but I have zero patience! I am so excited to have a fresh, new design (even though I have to wait until September) where everything is cohesive and up to date!

Needing - To start packing for Vegas! I cannot believe I get to go to the conference this year! I am going to be so starstruck, and am a little nervous about all of the networking, but I am so excited to to meet other teacher authors and bloggers! And, I can't wait to have a little grown up time on my first vacation away from my girlies!

All Star - I'm very productive. I love crossing things off my list, and I am very task-oriented, so I just like to go, go, go. Unfortunately, I have a little trouble with taking time out to relax, and I have to try to just deal with the fact that it is a little trickier getting things done with two little crazies running/crawling around!

That's it for now, thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Make Your Masterpiece: TPT Seller Challenge Week Three

Oh, my! This week's seller's challenge was just perfect timing as I have finally been motivated to create the "masterpiece" I've had spinning in the back of my mind for the past two years.  My sweet Miss Elliotte is four and super, super interested in learning to read and write, so she and I have been doing some preschool activities at home this summer. Now that she's old enough, I've been wanting to introduce her to some sight words, but I wanted to do so in a fun and exciting way that I knew would keep her attention. Which is not always easy to do, haha! I've been planning on creating a sight word and phonics curriculum to use with my struggling firsties for a while now, and Ellie is proving to be the perfect test audience!

Hence, here is the first edition my my newest unit, Soar into Reading: Preprimer Sight Words...

Here is are some pictures of my sweet Ellie doing the Read&Write and Trace&Build activities. She was really excited to get to do a little cutting and gluing, and also sooo proud to show me her neat handwriting as she wrote her new words! 

I had been making this unit as she and I worked together, but I finally bit the bullet and completed the whole thing! Ellie has a few weeks left before she earns her Superhero Masks and Cuffs featuring the words in the Preprimer list, but she's been really enjoying collecting her new words on her Superhero Word Ring!

I cannot wait to reassess her to see how she does in the next few weeks...Momma's going to have to get started on the next word list soon...oh, and Soar into Reading: Short Vowel Word Families is in the works as well!

If you'd like to check out this unit at my TPT store, I'd really appreciate your feedback! So far, Miss Ellie and I are enjoying it, and I'm excited to share it with my new firsties in a few months!

Thanks for stopping by--if you want to check out more Masterpieces, visit the linky party at Teach Create Motivate, Peppy Zesty Teacherista, Third in Hollywood, and Sparkling in Second.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Dare to Dream! TPT Seller Challenge Week Two

Happy Monday! I woke up super excited to learn about this week's Teachers Pay Teachers Sellers Challenge put on by Teach Create Motivate, Peppy Zesty Teacherista, Third in Hollywood, and Sparkling in Second. This week's challenge is all about dreaming big. As a planner at heart, I love to make goals, so this week's challenge is right up my alley! 

In honor of this week's challenge, here are my big dreams for this school year!

1. Create - I truly enjoy creating new activities for my students, products for my store, and freebies to share, but I've just been so busy the last couple of years, that I never could find the motivation to get things going again. Now that I'm getting back into things, I'm remembering how much I enjoy creating, sharing, and collaborating, and I cannot wait to do more over this next school year! I also really love creating things other than on TPT--I love to sew and embroider cute outfits for my girlies, and I also enjoy decorating cookies (although the baking and clean-up are not my favorite!). I hope to do more of these creative type things this year since it really does bring a lot of joy to my life!

2. Save and Give - Although I think we're off to a decent start, I'd like to really beef up my savings this year. Also, I'd like to make giving more of a year-round activity rather than something that my family does around the Christmas season.

3. Student Loans - While they finally seem to be shrinking a little bit, I am so tired of having to send this money off each month. I'd really love to be able to pay those babies off this year to start saving the money for other things.

4. Disney World - Our girls are getting a little bigger, and we've been talking about going to Disney World next Fall Break. This year, my goal is to save for and plan our trip, then get it all paid off so that once it's vacation time, we can truly just enjoy it!

What are your dreams for this year? Link up and share 'em or feel free to comment below!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Five for Friday June 19, 2015

Happy Friday! This Friday, I'm joining in on the Five for Friday party with Doodle Bugs Teaching. I'm already three weeks into my summer, and it has been busy! Here's what I've been up to so far!

My big girl, Miss Elliotte, finished up her very first soccer season, and boy was she excited to get her first trophy! I'm not sure if there will be a lot of soccer in her future, but she sure had fun running around and playing with new friends! Her favorite parts were wearing her big bow and the concession stand, of course!

My wonderful in-laws purchased a swing set for our little sweeties, so we spent about a week putting this baby together! Lots of work, but the girls absolutely love it, and so do I! I cannot wait to use this play set to build lots of memories for many years to come!

We took Miss Neely on her first official trip to the zoo, and she loved watching the fish in the aquarium, while big sis loved using the zoo's splash pad! Wish we could have one of those in the backyard, too!

Ellie took two weeks of swimming lessons, and today was her last day. It was a lot of driving due to being about a half an hour away from home, but totally worth it (plus there was a Starbucks on the way--lots of mocha frappuccinos for me)! This girlie went from being scared to death to get in the water to jumping in on her own and loving chilling in the pool with her floaties on! So proud of her!

I'm celebrating an especially productive week with my very favorite White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory.  This week I updated my favorite back to school activity during the Makeover Madness Seller's Challenge, and I also added a new All About Your New Yeacher Editable Book Kit to my store. After a two year break, it feels great to be getting back into the swing of things!

Here's to a fantastic weekend--and the fact that I still get to enjoy the other half of my cheesecake tomorrow! Have a great one!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Makeover Madness! TPT Seller Challenge Week One

Well, after about a two year break, I'm back! Finally! A new house, new job, and a new baby later, I'm finally ready to return to the world of blogging! To keep myself motivated, I've decided to kick off my blogging this summer by participating in the TPT Makeover Madness Linky Party being put on by the wonderful Emily over at Third in Hollywood, Amber at Peppy Zesty Teacherista, Ashley at Teach Create Motivate, and Jen at Sparkling in Second Grade. I have been really wanting to spice up some of my favorite products and even my own storefront, so this is just the motivation I needed to get going!

Here it favorite back to school activity...the All About Me Paper "Bagpack!"

Feel free to check out my "Bagpack" in my TPT store - it will be on SALE for the next 24 hours! Also, feel free to join in on the linky fun if you've got some sprucing up of your own to do! It felt so great to update one of my old favorites, and I'm looking forward to updating some of my other goodies soon! Also, just as a little side note...I am going to the TPT Conference in Las Vegas this July, and I cannot wait! It will be my first big trip away from my girlies, but I am so excited! Maybe I'll see some of you there!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Celebrating a New State, a New Classroom and a New Blog Design with a FLASH SALE!

Hello again, long lost friends! I cannot believe that I have neglected my poor, little blog for so long! I do have some excuses, though, and I'm throwing a FLASH SALE as a New State, New Classroom and New Blog Design Celebration (you could also call it an "I'm sorry I've been gone for so long sale, haha!")!

Anyways, in the last few months, my husband and I sold our house and we both got new jobs in our home state of Indiana within about a two week period--talk about blessed! Now we have officially relocated to our temporary home with my sweet in-laws until we close on the purchase of our new home in July (fingers crossed!). Anyway, as things have been crazy--I hope I never move states with a dog, a cat, and two year old again--I apologize for being gone and hope you'll be glad to have a little summer sale in return.

This 20% Off FLASH SALE will run today through Friday!  A few of the items you might want to check out as you plan and organize for the new school year include...

I know I've got lots of organizing, unpacking, and planning to do! Here is a before picture of my new room!  Hope to be back soon with some progress and updates!