2nd Annual Teacher Blogger Interview {with Katie from Teacher to the Core}

I am so excited to be blogging with the amazing bloggers of Elementary Entourage!  
When I found out the topic of my very first post was going to be an interview with a blogger, 
 I knew exactly who I wanted to ask....
Katie Knight of Teacher to the Core!
I had the joy of meeting up with Katie for lunch (at the fun, Richie's Diner).
 Over much laughter and friendship, Katie shared her passion for life and her journey as a teacher-blogger, curriculum developer, and presenter with me.

Katie:  I felt like I had so many ideas to share.  As I was reading other teacher-bloggers, I was gaining so much inspiration from them that I wanted to offer a little inspiration of my own.    I’m a very opinionated person and opinionated people have a lot of opinions to share.  So if you log onto my blog, it’s a lot of how I think the world should be run.  It works well in my classroom, it may not work in all classrooms, but it works well with mine.  

Teaching is a really hard job, and we share and if we all come together, then we will have the best of every one’s classrooms and help lots of kids!

Katie:  When I first discovered blogging, I discovered it through Pinterest.  I started seeing teachers that I was a kindred spirit to.  I was one of those teachers who always did crazy things in my classroom, and crazy bulleting boards, and people would walk by my bulletin boards and say, “Ugh, you have too much time on your hands!”  And I would feel bad about my bulletin boards, like I had done something wrong, making people feel bad around me – true story!  Or I would do things in my classroom and I didn’t have anyone to share it with.  I felt like I was the only wack-a-doodle out there who thought it was a good idea to cook in my classroom.  So when I started reading other people’s blogs I discovered that I wasn’t that special – other teachers were doing amazing, special things in their classrooms and they were getting flack from their staff too.

Sometimes when you have out-of-the-box ideas – 
people just want to kick you out of the box.  
You’re not allowed to play in the sandbox any more because you are just too weird.

Katie:  I would have to say that I don’t balance things very well. At. All.  I don’t balance things because if anything is going to go, it’s going to be my blog.  There is no way I am going to sacrifice my marriage and my relationship with my child, because they are the most important things to me.  I love my blog, and I love my blog readers, but if God were to tell me that I had to give something up in order to survive, that would be the first thing that would have to go.  

I believe that God put us on this planet to do certain things, and we have certain responsibilities.  I think He put me here to be a good teacher and maybe even a blogger and share ideas.  But when I chose to be a mother, then my son became one of my highest priorities.  Apart from my husband and me, he cannot grow and function.  Whereas the teaching community will go on, because believe me, there are other bloggers who can make it happen without me.

So as far as balance – I have to think of things more as priorities, because I don’t balance things well.  For example, my husband will say to me, ‘When is that blog post going to be done?  You haven’t made dinner in days and I’m getting tired of fast food.‘  That will happen sometime because when I get going on something, I am like a dog with a bone and won't let it go.

So I have to prioritize.  You see, I suffer from perfectionism.  I won’t finish things. . . I keep tweaking them and making it harder on myself than it needs to be - a blog post that should really only be 200 words is like 5,000 – and it really only needs 3 pictures, but I took 55 pictures. . .

So now I am limiting myself: if I think something will take 30 minutes to do, I give myself 45 minutes. . . times 2 days.  If I don't finish something in the 45 minutes, I grace myself (because I'm a recovering perfectionaholic) and give myself the second day.  That second day, it's do or die!  Get it done - click publish or upload to TpT and just move on!

So I don’t think I do balance very well.  But I do prioritize reasonably well. 


Katie:  My favorite tool I use for blogging is Windows Live Writer.  (Sorry, Mac peeps, this is just for Windows users.)  The nice thing about it is that you can edit photos within the blog post.  You can add watermarks and change the size of your photos - right in the actual post!  Think of it like PowerPoint, but it's for blogger.  You can even change your font and your font sizes.   It's really incredible! 



For those of you who have Instagram or FaceBook accounts, I recommend the 'iWatermark' app.
Those are my favorites blogging tools!

My tip for any blogger, Windows or Mac, is to have great content.  Pick something that really matters and is meaningful to you and your readers.

Katie's favorite resource is the 'Shout Out Great Behavior'.  I can see why it is her favorite and now mine!  It is perfect for helping us see, reinforce, and reward all those positive behaviors we love to see in our classrooms!

You just have to see her explain it for you (below)!
          

You can follow Katie from Teacher to the Core at her TpT StoreBlogInstagramFacebook, and Pinterest.  She has tons of inspiration and I know you will be enriched by getting to know her!



2nd Annual Teacher-Blogger Interview with Meghan from Keeping Up with Mrs. Harris


Today I get to share an interview with you with the super sweet and helpful Meghan from Keeping Up with Mrs. Harris. I've been able to connect with her over the last few months and what I love about her is that she is so willing to help and give advice on what has worked for her on this teacher-author journey. Keep reading to learn more about her!



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I started blogging back in 2012 to share my ideas from my classroom with teachers in our district. I was asked by my then principal to consider taking pictures of how I managed my classroom and sharing them through email. I thought it felt more natural to start a blog and then share the links through email for those that wanted to read. I was uncomfortable at first since I am not the best writer, but after a year I really started enjoying it. My blog was very simple and didn’t really get a lot of views. I also shared ideas that I liked from other classrooms in the district as well. We all have great ideas and I felt that several teachers needed to be featured as well.



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Blogging has been a great way to connect with other awesome teachers around the world. I have made so many friends and read so many amazing ideas for my own classroom. It is a very humbling experience to be a blogger with so many terrific ones out there. Blogging has challenged me to share what makes me different as a teacher. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Blogging is all about sharing my strengths with others. I have been more motivated to try new ideas and strategies knowing that it might not work in my room, but giving it a try is a way to stretch my creativity.







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Family comes first, school is next and blogging is last. My New Year’s resolution in 2015 was to be better at balancing my life and prioritizing. Unfortunately, it is very easy to put your job first over our families as teachers. I was guilty of that and at times even put blogging over my family. I would miss baseball practices so that I could get a post up. It’s so sad to admit, but it took me saying it outloud it to change it. Now family comes first. There are times that I have my boys join me in my home office to do a craft while I finish up a post or brainstorm ideas. Most of my work is completed early in the morning (before everyone wakes) or after my children have gone to bed. My husband doesn’t mind me working while he is watching TV in the evenings as long as I am there with him. Scheduling is also really important, especially in the summertime. I try to block off a few hours of work time where I will need to be alone. I work these hours only during the summer and what gets accomplished does and whatever doesn’t has to wait. Finding yourself a great planner is also important. I am a total planner nerd. I spend time on the weekend planning out my week for family, school and blogging. I know exactly what my goals will be and when they will be accomplished. If everything is important, than nothing is important. There has to be a list of “have to do”, “would like to do”, and “might be able to do”. This way i don’t set myself up for failure.



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Don’t forget who you are and who your audience is. It is easy to try to be an expert at everything as a blogger. I want to be able to meet the needs of all of my readers, but when I blog about strategies or concepts that I am not as knowledgable about, it always ends in disaster. Don’t forget who you are and what your strengths are as a teacher. I’ve worked with RTI students for the past five years. I have very limited knowledge and experience with ESOL students. There is no way I could ever do justice a blog post about serving ESOL students. Instead, I like to focus on What to Bring to an RTI Meeting, RTI Do’s and Don’ts, Things to Remember During an RTI Conference, Ambitious Growth Rates for Goal Setting, etc. These are all things that I know really well. Next, don’t forget who your target audience is and what they want to read. My readers are not going to want to read about how I planned and prepped for my son’s school party. My readers come for content related to interventions, strategies that will help them with struggling students, and organization solutions. Don’t bore your audience or they will unsubscribe or not come back. We all have a voice that needs to be heard, but not all by the same people.



QR Listening Centers


After being on Teachers Pay Teachers for four years next month, I have a ton of resources that I’ve made for my students. My favorite though would be my QR code listening centers. This pack is a year’s worth of listening center activities which includes a QR linked video of the reading of a book and an activity sheet for each book as well. Each month includes 9-12 different popular, seasonal books.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Listening-Centers-1639858

Thanks for stopping by!


2nd Annual Teacher-Blogger Interview {with Erin from Erintegration}


Hi, friends! It's Kim here from For a Love of Teaching! Our 2nd Annual Teacher-Blogger Interviews have been another big hit this year. Be sure to check out our previous posts as we have interviewed some pretty awesome teacher-bloggers this month!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Erin from Erintegration. Erin is super talented when it comes to integrating technology (particularly iPads) into the curriculum in a variety of fun and innovative ways. Her love and passion for technology are evident in her creative resources and blog posts for teachers. She has a desire to help teachers integrate technology into their classrooms in easy to manage ways. The products she creates are so easy to follow, and her directions for students and teachers take the guesswork out of technology. Erin is continuously coming up with creative technology lessons that students are sure to love. When browsing her store, I find myself saying... "What a great idea!" or "How did she think of that?"

Keeping reading to learn more about this technology guru along with her blogging tips and tricks!


Erin: I started blogging a few years ago when I got an iPad in my classroom. I wanted to share how we were using it, what apps we liked, and the projects we made. Since then, we have acquired access to a whole cart of iPads and started to use Google Classroom, so that has changed my focus from blogging about being a one iPad classroom to blogging about technology integration in general. I also have written more about my feelings regarding the use of technology in the classroom – how to manage it and students using it, how to reduce screen time and the goals of technology integration. I wanted to join in the group of classroom teachers giving voice to these ideas – our perspective is important to the discussion even if we are not the ones with the purchasing power and decision-making responsibilities when it comes to technology use in our schools.


Erin: Usually, my teaching informs my blogging, but sometimes I will be thinking of something to blog about and I will end up creating ideas to use in my classroom. That is how my “At Home with Google Apps” series started and now thinking of and making projects on these posts has increased my use of Google Classroom.  


Erin: Family always comes first so the balance is always tipped that way. Teaching is a huge part of my life, too. However since it is my 11th year teaching, I’m very efficient at using my prep time and planning. I have tried to reduce paper greatly which also cuts back on time copying. I have the students take responsibility for a lot of tasks in the classroom included checking their work, which also helps them take ownership and learn from their mistakes. I try to blog once a week but I’ll be honest, this gets pushed back a lot! I have 3-year-old twin girls so my blog is at their mercy!


Erin: I think the key is to blog about something you are passionate about. Being interested in everything technology integration means I always have something to write about, and I can write my ideas very quickly because they are bursting out! A more specific tip is to learn everything you can about SEO, what it is, how it works, and how you can utilize it on your blog. Most teacher-bloggers are writing to help other teachers so you want other teachers to be able to find your blog!


Erin: I think the last resource I make is always going to be my favorite.  Right now it would be all of my Emoji resources – both digital for the iPad and tech-free. Before that, it was my Google Forms Pick a Path Math interactive adventure story. Earlier this year it would have been all of my iPad Scoot Games. Ask me in a couple weeks and it will be whatever I have just posted!

         


I actually first found Erin on Twitter (@erintegration) and started following her instantly! I figured out fairly quickly that she was the mastermind behind the famous #tptchat on Sunday nights. I asked her to tell us more about this Twitter chat for TpT sellers and how we can join in!

Erin: I love Twitter and was trying to find other TpTers to connect with so I started the hashtag and chat on Sundays 8-9PM EST.  Luckily other teacher-authors joined in and I wasn’t chatting to myself! Each week there is a different topic and questions to guide the discussion. I write them or the guest host of the chat does. Then any TpTer can join in! More info can be found on my blog. You can also use the hashtag anytime you are posting something TpT related on Twitter – I use an aggregate to round up all of the tweets with #tptchat in them each day.

With Twitter, you can Tweet anywhere and responses are short so it makes for quick and easy Professional Development. You can ask a question and get a response from a teacher across the world. So it broadens your ability to connect with other teachers, but you can do it in PJs with a messy bun!


Since Erin is the queen of iPads, I didn't let her go without asking... What are your top 3 favorite apps to use in the classroom?

Erin: My favorite apps are all free and facilitate creation:  Chatterpix, PicCollage, TACU, Haiku Deck, and Tellagami. And Google Drive for storage and sharing. That was more than 3!

  


Erin's blog, Erintegration, is ah-mazing! It is a wealth of technology information and tips & tricks at your fingertips! Be sure to visit her blog to learn more about Erin, how she incorporates technology into her classroom and her brilliant ideas for engaging those digital learners in the classroom.

You can also find Erintegration on FacebookInstagram, and Teachers Pay Teachers!

Thank you, Erin!!! You are the best! 

2nd Annual Teacher-Blogger Interview: Chris from Famous in First



We had the pleasure of interviewing our sweet friend, Chris, from Famous in First! We met him this summer and have loved getting to know him as a friend, teacher and blogger. He is absolutely incredible and just won Teacher of the Year! Congratulations!!!


My cousins and I truly meet the best people in Vegas! 


I really wanted to connect with teachers and share some of the awesome things my kids were doing in our classroom. With so many negative comments and outlooks on teaching, I wanted to make sure I shared my passion for the profession with others and hopefully inspire others in the process. Blogging seemed like a good next step to further my career and goals so I figured .. Why not?



Blogging has allowed me the opportunity to connect with so many amazing teachers throughout the country and even the world. I learn from these teachers everyday and am continually inspired to try new things in my classroom. Blogging motivates me to take those risks and share my efforts. Blogging is also very reflective. It allows me to reflect on what's going on in my classroom (both good and bad) and think about how I can make it better. Blogging makes me work harder than I ever have as a teacher.



Oh my goodness.. It's impossible! My weakness is 100% finding the time to blog. I am working on getting better at this, but so far I've been pretty unsuccessful if I'm being honest. Family always comes first. No matter what. If you don't take care of yourself and your family, everything else will eventually fall apart. School is right under that for me. It's all about the kids and making sure I'm the best I can be for them and that's hard work.(And exhausting)  I have so many things I want to blog about, but sometimes am just physically and mentally exhausted by the time I get home that a nap often sounds like a better idea to me. And I'm okay with that! What does work for me is setting deadlines. If I set a deadline for myself I will often not make excuses and accomplish what it is I want to get done no matter how late I may have to stay up. 



Be You! That's when you'll get the best post. Don't post about something just to post about it. Be passionate about it and post meaningful content that inspires other teachers. I try to be as real and genuine with my posts. I won't force myself to write something just to post. If it's not flowing naturally I'll stop writing. It's that simple. I also try to chuck my content as much as possible whether with pictures or lists so it's a quick easy read. I know teachers are busy and try to take that into consideration when I post.



I don't have many, because like blogging hat often takes a backseat, but it has to be my Hollywood Themed End of Year Awards. I love celebrating my kids everyday and using these awards in my classroom at the end of the year. It's perfect for our Red Carpet Celebration and a resource I look forward to using every year. 

Thanks again, Chris! 


2nd Annual Teacher Blogger Interview {with Lauren from A Teachable Teacher}


I am honored to introduce you to Lauren, blogger and teacherpreneur from A Teachable Teacher. I connected with Lauren early in my TPT journey and had the pleasure of meeting her in person last year. I must confirm she is as sweet as she looks. :) Her Teachers Pay Teachers store is stocked with quality literacy resources for primary grades and classroom organization and management tools for all. Read on to learn more about what inspires her to blog and create. 



When I was getting my teaching credential, I would read teacher blogs.  I enjoyed getting to “know” other teachers and their classrooms!  I waited a long time before starting my own blog because I didn’t think anyone would care to read what I had to say since I was young new teacher.  Thankfully, my husband encouraged me to start one anyway. =)


Blogging has really challenged me to constantly growing in my teaching (hence the name, A Teachable Teacher).  I never want to think that I know it all or that I have it “down.”  I can always know more and do better.  I only want to teach/write about/post the best of the best...so I’m always reading and researching.  More importantly, all the tips, tricks, skills, and ideas I’ve learned from other bloggers have vastly impacted the way that I teach and run my classroom!


Let’s be real...I DON’T keep it all balanced.  I know that I don’t blog enough.  I put God, my family, church, and my students first, which means that blogging is often the back burner.  Because I spend so much time making resources for my students, I end up spending a lot more time creating and posting on TpT than I do blogging.  One of my goals this summer is to develop a good “rhythm” of blogging so that I can keep it up next school year!

As far as family goes, I do think it is easier for me because I don’t have kids yet.  My husband commutes a long distance each day for work, so I have a lot of time home alone on weeknights.  When I started blogging and creating resources, I realized that I was ALWAYS on the computer.  (To say I got addicted would be an understatement).  I told my husband that if at any moment he felt like I was ignoring him because I was glued to my computer screen, he needed to let me know.  It’s been almost three years and so far, he’s only asked me to close my laptop twice.  It’s a great system because I never have to feel guilty for “working”!


I would encourage you to blog and create about the things you are passionate about and the things you need in your classroom.  I remember when I created my December Behavior Incentive and showed it to a friend.  She encouraged me to blog about it, (I originally wasn’t planning on it), and I did.  The post was written on a whim and I’m ashamed at the quality of the images, but that is one of my post popular posts to this day.  Every teacher needs behavior incentives during that crazy month!  Chances are, if you have need, other teachers do too.  


My all time favorite resource is my All-in-One Reading Passages Bundle.  I was teaching first grade at the time and my students were not applying our phonics skills in reading whatsoever.  I was so discouraged!  I created one page (for the vowel team, ai) and “tested” at school.  It was so neat to see them actually read words with “ai” in the context of a story!  More importantly, they felt accomplished.  I knew I had to make more!  Now I teach reading intervention and I literally use them every day.



You can follow Lauren from A Teachable Teacher at her Teachers Pay Teachers Store, Instagram, Facebook, Bloglovin', and Pinterest. You will absolutely adore getting to know more about this talented teacher.