Top 12 TeacherspayTeachers Tips & Tricks

I recently opened my teachers pay teachers store less than 2 months ago and have already started making a profit. As I gradually build my store, brand and blog, I picked up a few tricks along the way. Here is what I learned:
  1. Take Your Time: Focus on making quality products. You could have a hundred products that only sell once in a blue moon or one great, useful, unique product that everyone loves and buys. 
  2. Add a Copyright to ALL of your products. Copyright © 2012 Miss. Whimsy is what I insert into my footer. Play it safe and save everything to a USB as well. If you have additional copyright questions here is a great TpT Resource.
  3. Buy the Premium Membership: If you are really serious about turning this into a financial opportunity buy the premium membership and do it early on. It is a much better return on your investment. 
  4. Use Social Media: get the word out about your store. Create a blog, twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. I personally was hesitant to do so because I thought it would be a lot to maintain but they really are great tools to get your name out there and a little effort goes a long way. 
  5. Join Group Pin Boards! They have a lot more followers then you probably do and can help you get the word out about any new products, sales or freebies you are having. 
  6. Read the TpT Newsletters: I am still working my way through them but they are written by an experienced seller(s) and have great ideas and reminders. 
  7. Blog About It: The top Sellers all have them. Create a blog, meaningful content, a great layout and then post it here on the website: TpT Blog Page. Share with your readers how to use your products, and use high quality pictures to get your point across. Blog about unique ideas and then pin them! Better your blog by doing your research and learning new things. Also, make sure it doesn't take a long time to load your blog! Keep it simple.
  8. Use Excel: When is a better time to add new products or advertise on Pinterest? On your sellers page there is a graph with your earnings however I created a spreadsheet of the days of the week and continually tally the days that buyers buy. As of today, Sundays and Thursdays are my highest days (with the exception of sales days like Cyber Monday) and I advertise between 3-4pm or around 8pm. Think about the time zone of your buyers as well. 
  9. To Do Lists: Ah, when do they end? I've created mine on excel and categorized them by color. Red is for blog ideas, orange is for TpT product ideas, green is for weekly to-dos, and blue is for my sales goals. I also have a purple category for popular keywords to use in the titles of my products. Download the TpT Sellers Handbook  on your sellers dashboard to check them out.
  10. Refresh: After creating a product don't post it right away. Sleep on it. When you look back at your product with "fresh eyes" you may have missed something. A spelling error or new idea may arise. 
  11. Sales: Have them at least once every season if not once a month. They are a great way to drive traffic to your store(after advertising on Pinterest of course). Also, TpT has big sales that I would encourage you to get involved in. These sales are advertised by lots of other sellers who have lots of other buyers.
  12. Improve: If a product isn't selling after a few weeks, either find a way to improve it, make it free, or both. You spent the time making something so don't feel the need to take it down. Also, there is a common theme among teachers, we like to share and having a few free items is also a great way for other teachers to learn more about the quality of your work. Plus, there is a great feature that allows you to revise your products and let your sellers re-download the updated version for no additional cost. Did you forget to add a copyright? Wanna create a better cover page? Go for it.

Bonus: You can also submit your free products to be featured in the TpT Newsletter Promotion!

Good luck!

WDIW: Wine and Cheese Party!

We Deserve it Wednesdays: Just because we do.

Throw a party. Because you work hard and you simply deserve it. First things first, the guest list. Bottom line is that we are only inviting the people we want to see at this moment in time. We don't always need to invite everyone, to every gathering. Feeling obligated to invite others is no picnic in the park so today brush off those guilty feelings and remind yourself that today's just not the day to invite everyone and their mother-in-law. It doesn't mean we don't love everyone it just means that intimate parties are nice once in a while.

Step two, my favorite part, is deciding what your theme will be. I would like to get into wine, or at least find a go-to wine for social gatherings so a wine and cheese tasting is the perfect solution.  In my Facebook invites (because I am a tech-savvy young thing) I invited a few friends over for wine, cheese, chocolate and bread (YUM). There was no obligation to bring anything but I did suggest bringing a party game or wine if desired.

Step 3: Fairway Shopping Center! I heard they had great cheeses and thought I would ask a salesperson to help me because as much as I love cheese, I eat Monterrey Jack, Cheddar and Vermont Sharp which I was told is boring. So I had the cheese "master" choose 4 cheeses (which he also graciously let me try prior to purchasing)  to go with white and red wine. I also bought a baguette, grapes (some I froze to serve as ice cubes in the wine), chocolate, bagel crisps, and bread sticks. A few guests brought bottles of wine and my sister bought that yummy box of chocolates in the picture.

Now, I assume you all have thrown a party before so I neglected to tell you to give at least a weeks notice, tell them the time of the party, follow up with a phone call for those that responded with an unacceptable "maybe" on my facebook invite, etc.

Finally: Party day. I love hosting so usually everything is prepared hours (sometimes days) before anyone is expected to arrive. Then I fuss over things, end up making/buying/baking extra and finally tell people to come earlier if they want because I am ready and bored. :) Anyone else like that?

The result of the party was a lot of fun (of course, because I was the hostess). We played Apples to Apples, had a little wine and cheese tasting and thoroughly enjoyed the bread and chocolate. Yum! I whole-heartedly suggest party games like Taboo, The Game of Things, and Apples to Apples. Whether you are inviting people who all know each other or a group who doesn't know anyone, they are a great ice breaker, not to mention lots of fun.

Have you thrown a party recently just because? Have a plan for your next shinding? Give us the details in the comments below. :)

Until next time,

Clutter in the Classroom

Your classroom environment highly effects you and your students productivity.

1. Are there books scattered across the floor?
  • Teach kids book handling skills. We put books back carefully on the shelf, or proper bin when we are finished. The bins should be labeled and your expectations should be clear.
  • Don't be the teacher who at the end of the day needs to straighten out their toys, pick pencils up off the floor or stack books. You have a classroom FULL of willing helpers. Assign jobs.
2. Piles of paper on your desk?
  • Set up a system. Try colored and/or labeled bins on your desk: To be Graded, To Be Filed, To Hand Out, etc. Your desk is a role model for your students. 
  • Spend 15 minutes every Friday having your students clean out their desks. Loose papers go in the recycling bin, remind students which graded papers can be left at home, stack books on the left side of the desk and folders on the right. 
3. What do the walls look like?
  • Mis-matched borders and backgrounds? Try sticking to 2-3 colors. Calming color combinations like blue, green, and white. Or an energy mix with orange and blue. Coral and turquoise with black backgrounds would be pretty too.
  • You do not need 500 man-made, mass-produced posters on the wall. The kids aren't looking at them. After teaching something new, create an anchor chart with the class and put it on a bulletin board. Once you move on to another topic, so does the anchor chart. Take a picture of the anchor chart and create a reference binder for you and your students. The binder should always be accessible and available to students if needed. Fundamentals (an alphabet chart, number line, multiplication table) should be up year round.  Prioritize and rotate the rest.
  • Anything tattered, worn out, etc. gets repaired (ask parents or custodians for help), recycled, or donated. 
4. If you haven't used it in the last year...

  • Recycle it!
  • If it is a good resource either donate it or let another teacher borrow it. If it isn't for the grade level you are teaching now it belongs with that grade. Plus, that teacher may return the favor. :)

5. Less is more.
  • Rotate! Give your students a chance to enjoy books, and then rotate them out into a covered shelf or cabinet. Replace the books with seasonal books or others that relate to your topic. This allows kids to expose themselves to new genres, and create new interests. Same goes for toys and some manipulatives. 

Bonus: I'm a substitute- what the heck do I save?
  • I periodically go through what I have and weed through. As I gain more and more experience in the classroom, I have a better understanding of what works for the students in my area and what works best for my teaching style.

In the canvas bins I store crayons, sight word magnets, Velcro, and white board markers. The pencil containers are recycled fried onion containers (my dad loves them) that I hot glued ribbon onto and labeled with my label maker. In the binders are my lesson materials and plans divided by grade and/or season. I teach summer school every year so they have a separate binder that I bring into school. Plus, my student teaching binder and student whiteboards are stacked neatly on the bottom shelf.

Finally, you don't have to be a minimalist or clean-freak to have a clutter-free classroom. It is important, however, to only own things you absolutely adore. Do you love it? Do your students love it? If not, why are you holding on to it? If the need arose in the future, you are a teacher- you know how to improvise. And you probably won't need it. Don't forget to get your students involved- they love to help!

Hope this helps,

TpT Credits

I just read about TeacherspayTeachers credits at Mrs. Stanford's Class and I wish I had known about them sooner! Basically, every time you purchase something from TpT and leave feedback for the seller you earn credits that add up to some yummy savings for future purchases! Check out her video here: TpT Credits for more information!

Also, tomorrow starts the HUGE sale so make sure to head over to TeachersPayTeachers and check out the plethora of savings on lesson plans, activities, and other teaching materials.


Hope this helps,

Number and Letter Grades VS Comments

This morning I woke up to a very sweet comment from another teacher who downloaded one of my products on TpT and it reminded me about how I feel about giving out grades to students and receiving grades myself. I feel so good about myself, that my hard work has paid off when I get a comment. When someone downloads one of my products whether it is free or priced, I feel great but there is something about positive feedback that makes me feel so rewarded. I feel the same way about grades. When I received a specific note on my papers in school I felt like that helped me so much more than seeing a number or letter grade. Criticism was better received by me as well through a comment rather than a grade. I feel like a comment is more specific and I can learn from that whereas writing a 70 on my paper means nothing.

Do you think we could omit number and letter grades and just have grade comments? I feel like all of the above are subjective so that would strike that argument. Positive comments and constructive criticism are much more helpful. As a student and as a teacher I believe that this could really help increase our knowledge as well as our self-esteem.

One could argue that letter/number grades would not work for math and I understand that but I still really like the idea of comments as grades for all other subjects. What do you think?

The picture above of an essay I wrote many years ago holds quite a memorable story for me. At the top of that post-it which you cannot see are the words "See Me." It turns out that my English teacher wanted to know if I cheated or had gotten any help writing that essay. She knew that cheating was out of character for me but she had to ask because she felt like the essay was written very well for a 7th grader. Well, first I was scared because I knew that I didn't cheat and wanted her to believe me. After talking with her she told me that if I was telling the truth, I should drop out of school and become a writer. It was bittersweet at the time because I knew this was quite a compliment however I was not able to fully enjoy the feeling because I was still a little scared. However, today I will never forget that conversation and the way it makes me feel to remember it. I saved both the essay and her note. I didn't remember this story or essay because there is a numbered grade at the bottom, I saved this because an experience like that is rare and I will never forget the way it made me feel.

I have received the lowest of grades and the highest of grades but the grades I remember most are the ones that are written about me.

WDIW: Mask of Self, Then Mask of Teacher

We Deserve it Wednesdays: Putting yourself first ideas to build, encourage and radiate self-worth. Maybelline is's because we're worth it.

There is a common tip/scenario that has always stuck with me: In the event of an emergency on an airplane we are instructed to put our masks on first before helping others. This makes sense because we cannot help others if in the process we lose our own breath, right? Well, take this into consideration when teaching or living in general.

Puting yourself first is what your health and happiness depends on. I truly believe that it is selfless to be "selfish" constantly. Selfish is in quotes because how can it be selfish when you are just taking care of yourself? Painting your nails, taking an exercise class, reading a good book, buying a lipstick to brighten your day- those are not indulgences, those are necessary indulgences. They benefit everyone because the happier you are, the happier the people around you will be. And who doesn't want to live in a happier place? Of course, the examples I gave are subjective and are merely suggestions of my necessary indulgences. What are yours? How can you better yourself by taking time for you?

Moreover, what do you need right now? Is it more time with girlfriends, more "me" time, more romance? Whatever it is, make a conscious effort to speak up, reach out, or take what it is you need to be happy and healthy. I personally LOVE me time but do realize that I could benefit from balancing "me" time, with friend time with dating and family time.

And if you still feel guilty or feel your wants aren't necessary right now then how about this. Your students, family, and friends, want to be around a happy person. Your students want you to be rested, well-fed, and smiling. If you took TEN, just ten minutes to take a fragrant, colorful (hello Lush bath bombs), bubble bath with a little music on to block out the rest of the world for just ten minutes- how good would that feel? And once you stepped back out into the world again, would you be calmer, nicer, happier and more productive? If you really let the water wash over you, took deep breaths to enjoy the beautiful fragrance and focused on the relaxing music, I think you would.

Until next time,

Polka Dot Flash Cards Freebie

How do you spell orange? How do you spell November? How do you spell... Yeah, If I had a quarter for every time... So I created a bunch of cute polka dot flash cards so that if a kid wants to know how to spell something that we haven't learned yet I can just direct them to the flash cards. Animals, months of the year, colors, days of the week and family members are all included in this freebie. I suggest laminating them, hole punching the corner and storing them on a ring with like topics. For example, all animals would go on one ring to make it easier for students to find what they are looking for independently. 

Click Here to check out the Polka Dot Flash Card Freebie. :)

Hope this helps,

Off-Duty Book Organization & Storage

I like to have books in a constant rotation so that each book gets the recognition it deserves.  I want kids to be able to see and enjoy specific books at certain time. Obviously, holiday books will only be brought out around the holidays but think about theme books that correspond with your curriculum as well. I want kids to develop favorites while also discovering new books. To do this, I will always have a collection of books that are available to read and some that are "off-duty." Off-duty books need to be not only stored somewhat out of sight but organized so that I can easily work them back into the rotation. 

For picture books I used file folder organizers (which can be purchased at Staples, Target, Ikea, etc) and my amazing label maker to create labels such as: Read Aloud Books, Animal Books, Favorite Authors, Seasonal/Holiday Books, Favorite Characters, and Easy Readers. I then added shapes cut-out from construction paper and inserted them into the label pockets already provided for me. 

The piece de la resistance is on the reverse: 
I'm not into the cluttered looking classroom so when my bookshelf feels visually overwhelming, I will keep the file folders reversed so that the books and pictures do not show. When I want kids to help me find a book or switch out books, all I need to do is reverse the folders so that they can use the picture clues to help them find what they are looking for. 

I am always on the lookout for book organization strategies. How do you store & organize your off-duty books?

Hope this helps,

Free Educational Apps & Organization

Today I want to share Smart Apps for Kids, a website that posts reviews and links to free and discounted apps for kids. I have downloaded over 80 educational apps since I first "liked" their page on Facebook, ALL free, and cannot speak highly enough of them. I am not affiliated with them, merely a fan of useful freebies!

I recommend liking them on Facebook, and periodically checking out their posts for Apps that relate to the grade you teach/want to teach. They do give great reviews as parents(I'm unsure if any of the owners are educators) but as a teacher, I like to download the apps I'm interested in and then play a round or two. If I love it, I keep it and share with students, if I'm not IN LOVE I will delete it because there are just way too many free educational apps for me to keep mediocre ones around. I like the apps that are free of advertisements and I know that the creators try to post the majority of the free apps that way.

Once I've downloaded a few, tried them out, and have given them my stamp of approval, I will go into iTunes again and organize them. For example, all audio books with be categorized together, math games, etc. The way I do this is drag one app on top of another and then type in the corresponding label.

A few favorites thus far: MyABC (Lite), Spelling Magic, JirboMatch, and the math games by McGrawHill.

Hope this helps,

Career Encouragement

For the substitutes or anyone else who has ever struggled with their career, I recently came across: Big Failure, Big Success. 12 People to Keep You Going. Check it out for a dose of career inspiration and encouragement.

Help Teachers Affected by Hurricane Sandy

Laurah from The ESOL Odyssey is organizing a product drive for teachers who lost many of their resources as a result of Hurricane Sandy. If you are interested in helping out please click the link below to head to her blog and learn more.  

Teachers Help Teachers