Today I wanted to share a story about my first year teaching. I was hired to teach 3rd grade at a title 1 school in the same district I graduated from. I was SO excited to start this new journey, and couldn’t wait to meet my students. I would be teaching ESL at a Dual Language campus. That meant that there were 7 3rd grade classrooms. 6 teachers were paired off in English/Spanish and shared two groups of students. Then there was my classroom…number 7. My class was a few native English speakers, students with IEPs and 504s that wouldn’t typically be successful in Dual Language, and students who’s parents denied bilingual services. Our campus were 98% on free and reduced lunch. When the Special Ed. teacher met with me, I learned that over half of my class had some sort of educational need (Dyslexia, ID, AU, or were on Behavior Plans).
Learning all of this didn’t make me feel afraid…it made me EXCITED! And anxious to meet these angels that I’d spend my first year teaching with. I had student taught in 3rd grade, and was convinced we would ALL be successful that year. But then the first week came, and I started doing a few informal assessments. I realized my students couldn’t read independently…my library of donated chapter books was way too high for their reading level. Most of them weren’t able to write complete sentences, and our first math unit was too challenging for most of them. I spent hours looking at our district curriculum trying to find a way to meet their needs, and it just wasn’t there. Of course I could pull lessons from 1st or 2nd grade, but they had already done those lessons…probably more than once. Our population wasn’t very transient, and this ESL group had been together since kindergarten. That meant that they were pretty persnickety with each other, and knew way more about each other than I did. They knew who the “smart” ones were, who the teacher would call on for the right answers and they knew how to set each other off. Most of them knew how to fly under the radar so their teacher didn’t know they didn’t really get it. They knew how to look engaged during independent work, even though they weren’t able to complete the task. I learned quickly what a hard year this was going to be, and that’d I needed a LOT of help meeting their needs.
I remember scouring google…hoping anything would pop up to help me. We had the STAAR test in the Spring…I had to present all of this material to them. But how in the world would I present it to them in a way they could understand and would help them make progress? Mailbox magazine was expensive, and most of the free ones I could find at the library were too outdated. So, I spent all night, every night creating materials for them. I spent all day Saturday and all day Sunday at school. I remember one time we were learning to read a clock. Most of my kids needed practice with half and quarter hour, but we also had to be able to read them to the minute. I didn’t know how to find clock clipart so I spent HOURS making clocks on the computer and manually drawing the hands to show different times. I think it took me almost 12 hours to make one center. But I did it..and thought “I guess this is my life now.” Fortunately, I still had the fire of a new teacher and I just saw all of this as a challenge. My husband knew that I couldn’t do anything on Sunday…I woke up at the crack of dawn and when to school. When I got home after lunch, I’d start working on my lesson plans. I did those until about 11:00 when I went to sleep.
As you can imagine, it was a HARD year. Over half of my students failed their state exam, and I felt like such a failure. I had worked SO hard to meet their needs, and just hadn’t done it. I tried to do Guided Reading…but I’d never seen a lesson before. I tried to do Guided Math, but I had no idea how to group my students. When my principal asked me to move to 1st grade, I was THRILLED. I would be the ESL teacher again, in a brand new grade, on a brand new team…I was excited!
That summer, I went to an incredible literacy institute and I distinctly remember working on my word wall (drawing every line around the letters so that I could have those cool box sight words.) A teacher said “That’s so neat! You should share that! Have you heard of Pinterest?” THAT started my TPT journey. A whole new world opened up to me…teachers like Cara Carroll and Sarah Cooley were making these incredible resources for their kids…and sharing them! I immediately started a blog and then a TPT store. My first blog posts were some of the most awkward things I’ve ever read, and my first products were basically just an eye-sore. I spent SO much money that year on resources. I was so proud to show my teammates what was available to them.
That super long story has a point…Teachers Pay Teachers changed my life. It truly gave me my life back. Once I found it, I was able to be the kind of teacher I wanted to be AND spend time with Keith. I was able to provide centers, assessments, and engaging activities to my students and still sleep at night. I spent so much of my own money building my classroom…from decorations, to our library, and most importantly, to quality resources. It never occurred to me that I’d be able to ask for anything to be reimbursed. It just wasn’t done. So, when TPT reached out to sellers and told us they were working on a way to help administrators pay, I was thrilled. Of course, we had so many questions, but ultimately, I knew it would help get resources into teachers hands…teachers who were in the same position as I was in my first year!
That’s why I’m so thrilled to share with you that TPT for Schools is OFFICIALLY launched!!
That means any administrator at ANY school in the WORLD can make an account and start supporting their teachers! I think my principal would have helped me that first year…he was as desperate for me to be successful as I was. But there wasn’t really anywhere for us to look. So he just let me work on clocks all weekend. But now…that same principal can ask a struggling teacher “What would help? What do your students need that you can’t find in our district curriculum?” And they can search together for teacher-tested resources, and he can use his curriculum budget on things the teacher will actually use. (Instead of textbooks that sit in a closet, or workbooks that are too expensive to be used.)
I wanted to share a bit about TPT for Schools with you…and hopefully answer some questions you might have. If I DON’T answer your question, just email me and I’ll find the answer out for you! I promise!
First, every school has ONE administrator. Ideally, it’s whoever makes curriculum decisions. For a lot of schools, that’s the principal or vice principal. For other schools, there might be an Instructional Specialist, or even the librarian. It doesn’t really matter who it is…as long as they understand what teachers need, and have access to school funds. They are able to make an account (it takes about 3 seconds), and it looks like this.
In their account, they can see requests teachers have made (I’ll show you how to do that), as well as their school library (all the resources the school has purchased.) The Schools account are set up so that admins and teachers can collaborate and decide what’s best for their students! It opens up a line of communication that might not have been there before…and gives administrators a way to see what teachers desperately need!
You can see that teachers can request things and leave a note. You can easily request multiple copies (if more than 1 teacher wants to use it). Ideally, you’ll tell your administrator WHY you need this product. Here are some example reasons you might want to use:
- Our district curriculum doesn’t include anything for this standard. This resource directly meets the standard and will help me teach it effectively.
- Asher and Jayda are really struggling with our math unit. I’ll use this resource to work with them in a small group so that I can get them caught up quickly. The preview shows it’s exactly what they need to work on.
- My class is really struggling this year with being kind to each other. I wasn’t sure exactly how to teach it, but this unit has everything I need for our morning meetings. It would help us all so much! My entire team wants to use it!
Your administrator can decide to purchase it, and even send you a note back! After they purchase it, it comes right to your email! If they purchase multiple copies (like for a grade level), everyone gets a copy in their email!
Before you can request resources, your admin has to make an account. They invite their teachers to link up with the school, and then it’s super easy! Simply find the resource you’re needing and click the “Send Request” button!
You’ll notice you still have the option to buy anything on your own! And it will NOT go in your school library or to your administrator. Because most teachers won’t ask their principal for everything, this allows you the freedom to choose! Of course, if your admin is supportive…save that money and get yourself a pedicure! 🙂 When I spoke with teachers at ITSE, many asked if their admin would have access to their purchases…NO! Your account remains private, and they can only see what you request!
That’s pretty much it! It’s truly that simple! Everything your school purchases for you will end up in your purchases! You can even browse the school library to see what other teachers are using! If it looks like something that would help your kids too, just request your own copy!
What if my administrator doesn’t think there are quality resources on TPT? We know that not every school is totally on board with TPT yet. But that’s why finding quality resources that WORK is so important! If your students are engaged and succeeding…admins will want to know why! The beauty of TPT is that these resources are tested by teachers…they work! So when you find one that’s really working, consider sharing that with your admin! Or if you’re not comfortable, keep your door close and “do your thang!” They will notice how much your kids have grown, and how thrilled parents are with their progress. Let the resources speak for themselves! It might take time…and that’s okay! Keep doing what’s best for your kids and the rest will fall into place! If you’d like for an account manager to reach out to your administrator and help them find quality, standards based resources, just let them know! You can reach them at Schools@TeachersPayTeachers.com!
Can my entire team use one resource? Digital resources are typically created for one classroom. That means that the price the TPT seller chose is what it’s worth for ONE teacher. We LOVE hearing stories about teams using the same resource…we just ask that you purchase multiple licenses (at a discount!) It’s super easy to purchase extra copies using schools or your own personal account. Either way, we want to make sure that every student is getting the resources they need, and that teachers are being compensated for their time creating the resource!
Are all resources eligible for TPT for Schools? Once your school has an account, any resource can be purchased by a school! Many teachers chose to ask for the more expensive bundles…especially because they will last a long time (as opposed to a stand alone lesson or activity that might just last one day.) The sky is the limit, though…if it’s on TPT, it’s eligible!
What I leave my campus or grade level? Team TPT is still trying to figure out the best way to solve this issue, since we know that teachers move grade levels and change schools often. If you purchase a resource with your money, it’s yours to take with you wherever you go! However, just like if your district purchased a textbook, resources purchased by your campus will stay with your campus. We’re still figuring out the tweaks of possibly transferring licenses to new teachers or if they should be only one specific teacher. Hopefully this will all get figured out soon. 🙂 But if you move schools, it’s a great time to share with your new admin how well TPT for Schools worked for you in the past!
Here’s what TPT had to say about this! “We’re in the process of developing a licensing option that will allow a license to be transferred from one teacher to another in the case of teacher turnover. Once this license is ready, we’ll contact you with the option of upgrading previously purchased resources to a classroom license, which will allow for and enable year-over-year transferring. This upgrade option will likely be available in time for the 2018-2019 school year.”
Can we use purchase orders? YES! Your school’s account manager can help you get that all set up!
As you can tell, I’m thrilled that this is all ready for YOU! I truly hope it makes your life easier, saves you some money, and helps your administrator see all the incredible things you are doing in your classroom! Want to chat about it more?? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d love to talk with you about it!
For the record…I’m not an employee of TPT! I am not being compensated for this post at all, I just truly believe in and want to share it with all of you! 🙂