What kept me going...

Saturday, August 15, 2015
I joined the TPT community almost two years ago.  At that time, I had been substitute teaching for over a year in hopes that I would soon find my "forever classroom".  The next year passed--three more long term positions--but no luck.  Yet, the sting of rejection didn't seem to hurt as much that school year as I was creating resources which were being shared not only worldwide but with the teachers I filled in for everyday.  There was no greater feeling than seeing my products being used by teachers I admired (and envied) as they were living my dream.  Their support encouraged me that someday it would all work out.
{seeing my products in use by other teachers = greatest feeling ever!!}

Summer of 2014 I interviewed eight times for the district where I had been a faithful substitute for over two years.  Each time, I shared my passion and excitement for teaching and learning.  I also shared my journey on TPT and resources I was so proud of. Each time, I faced rejection.

{a life goal list I made a long time ago...I found it last year. It was a reminder that things don't always go as planned}



I reached out to fellow TPTers and I had a few reach out to me.  The conversation was consistent: how to keep going? I entered the 2014-15 school year with high hopes despite the rough summer.  I got a call the day before teachers returned for PD about filling in for a 2nd grade teacher.  I, of course, said yes.
{last year after setting up the classroom for 2nd grade}

That next day, the keynote speaker for opening day was Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis.  If you don't recognize her name, you will recognize her story.  She was the 1st grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary who protected her students by locking them and herself in the bathroom of her classroom.  Her room was 10 feet away from where the shooting started.

I anticipated her presentation to be, without a doubt, very sad and upsetting, yet her message was one of hope and choice.  We cannot control what happens to us but we can control how we react.  Her story really put everything into perspective. My issue paled in comparison. But I took her message and chose to stay positive.  Something would happen soon.



Around the same time, I had interviewed for a cyber school position.  It wasn't until my long term position in 2nd ended that I was offered the job teaching Kindergarten in an online setting.  It wasn't my top choice but it was a job so I was thankful. It would provide me the opportunity to go back to school and start a family.  It didn't take long until I found myself in a Master's program for reading and expecting our first child, a baby boy.

Life was coming together but there was still a yearning to be a classroom teacher.  Working with students virtually just wasn't fulfilling my heart's passion.  Eight months pregnant in July, I went to my one and only interview of the summer.  I went out on a limb and put my blog button and link to my store in my resume.  When I arrived at the interview, I was greeted by the principal who asked "Are you The Sassy Sub?" "Wow! They have checked me out!" I thought. As I walked in the room, another principal asked me a few questions about information she had read on my blog. I immediately felt like these were educators who 'got me'.  And I was right.  I was offered a full time contract position in 2nd grade! Needless to say, I am over the moon with excitement.  I knew right away it would be a challenge setting up a classroom and starting the year out 8 1/2-9 months pregnant but I wouldn't trade it for anything! Life just works out that way.  I have reached my goal. I owe it to the amazing TPT community which has kept me lifted up, driven and focused through this journey.  I knew one day all of the hard work would pay off.  And that's what kept me going.


Mix it up Monday: Pinterest

Monday, August 10, 2015
Happy Monday!! Today is my last Monday before I go back to work. Are you back to school already? Next Monday is a teacher work day and then the next one--it's go time!!

  Here we are in the third week of #tptSMsurge. I am super excited to be sharing with you all I have learned about Mixing it Up on Pinterest in the most effective ways!



Personally, I consider myself still a PIP {Pinner In Progress}.  When I came to the realization that Pinterest wasn’t just a fun, leisurely activity to do while drinking wine on a Saturday night, I can’t lie—I was a bit bummed! I felt like switching my mindset to using it strategically made it more like work and less like play.  However, I think you can balance the work and fun by just keeping some important tips in the back of your mind while you navigate the world of Pinning.


Pins

DO vary content.  Make pins informative: how-to’s and tips.  Think like Shark Tank: Does the pin you are offering solve a problem? Make sure you highlight the purpose and usefulness. Pin from blogs (including your own) and not just from Teachers Pay Teachers.  This isn’t to say you shouldn’t link your products back to TPT.  Create a pin (I use PowerPoint) and save as a JPEG.  Think of it as an another preview.  Pin the image then add the url to link to your store.

DON’T pin only your own pins.  Experts suggest a ratio like 10:1, others stuff vs. your stuff. However, there is no hard and fast rules around the optimum mix.  Just keep it balanced.  This is simply to avoid excessive self-promotion which is a major turn off.

DO add text your own Pinterest images.  Similar to Instagram, images with text are more pin-worthy!

Descriptions

DO write epic descriptions full of juicy keywords.  Practice what you preach as a teacher of writing!! You are showing your audience through your beautiful picture but they also need to be told about what makes your pin interesting. Highlight the effectiveness and importance of your pin.  Think about what people may search for when looking for a pin like yours.  If you don’t capitalize on this important space, your pin will get buried and likely forgotten.  Lauren highlighted some Pinners working their descriptions on her post here.


DON’T leave the description blank or write too little.  While Pinterest doesn’t let you off the hook with writing nothing, I have seen pins with just a “.” in the description.  Longer descriptions (approx. 300 characters) have been proven to be more pin-worthy.  

Boards

DO delete old pins which have not performed well.  In a nutshell, Pinterest is all about who is pinning popular pins. If you have a lot of pins with no repins and likes, Pinterest thinks you're not popular, and doesn't show your pins to as many people. Pins with 0 or 1 repin need to go. 

DON’T pin the same pin more than once.  Luckily, Pinterest is great about telling you something has already been pinned.  Because, really, who wants to see the same pin over and over again?!

DO categorize your boards.  Start with the board with the most pins and break it down into more definite topics.  For example, I have a board generically labeled “education”.  It would benefit to break it down into grade levels or by subject.  This helps keep boards organized and content specific so they don’t grow too large and out of control.  Along the same lines, make sure you don’t have a bunch of itty bitty boards with 5 pins.  Combine similar categories and change board names to make it work!

Collaboration

DO join collaborate boards with people of like interests and goals. The theme of this summer has been “Find your niche”.  The same rings true when pinning.  Collaborative boards increases your exposure and visibility which will increase your followers at a faster rate.  This also leads to more repins. How do you find a collaborative board? This can be a little tricky as Pinterest doesn’t currently have a way to search for them.  My advice is to “find your tribe” first and ask around about collaboration.  Maybe one exists already, maybe not.  Don’t be afraid to start one and invite your tribe members to join!

DON’T overpin.  More is not always better.  Some collaborative boards have guidelines about how often to pin.  Be respectful and follow these! You can be removed!! If no guidelines exist, keep in mind you should be pinning approximately 10-30 times per day at MOST and not all at once.  Flooding the board with too many pins by the same user can drive away interest and followers.

DO interact with fellow pinners.  Like pins and leave comments! Though Pinterest’s first impression feels more isolated than other social media forms, there are the same options for interaction.  Interaction leads to engagement which leads to repins and followers!!

As with each Social Media, it can become overwhelming and time-consuming.  Find what works best for you and your schedule and remember to use our *free* Social Media Strategies organizer to help prioritize.  Hope you found at least one new useful tip this Monday : )





My Summer Recap: A linky party!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Whether it is already over for you or it is starting to wind down, I thought it would be fun to share three memories from summer 2015!

This summer was consumed with preparing for the arrival of our first baby--a boy who is due here in less than 3 weeks!!
My beautiful shower hosted by my mother was simply amazing!!




We finally finished his room : ) I am so in love!!



Another highlight of the past 2 months was getting to meet some TPT friends face-to-face.  I attended 3 PA TPT meet ups and it was truly a fantastic experience!! I have a feeling these girls will be lifelong friends.  And while I didn't make it to Vegas {mostly due to being 8 mos. pregnant}, I am determined to make it work next year and I hope I can room with one of these lovely ladies!!


Lastly, I worked harder than I ever had in summers past.  I finished two grad classes, worked a freelance position for education.com and of course, created products for TPT.  I knew this fall would be consumed with all things baby so I wanted to accomplish everything I could so he can be my full focus.  


Well I hope my summer didn't bore you to death! It certainly wasn't filled with exotic adventures and vacations but it was productive!! Can't wait to read your summer recap!!

 Just use the image below and don't forget to link back up!!



PS. If you link up, I would really love for you to visit at least three other blogs and leave some meaningful feedback : ) Thanks!!! 

Happy new school year!!



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