(The featured photo above is from a “TpT-tastic Nashville Trip!” Sounds fun! Amanda of One Extra Degree is in the front row, second from right.)

We took a moment with this Teacher-Author to get the story behind her successful TpT store.

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1. How did you come up with the name for your store “One Extra Degree”?

During the summer of 2010, I discovered Sarah Cooley‘s blog, First Grader…At Last! I was enamored… and more importantly, I was hooked! I decided to start my own blog on the Blogger platform because I loved the collaborative nature of it.  I had my own classroom website at the time, and until that summer, I hadn’t realized the opportunity for interaction that blogging provided, but once I discovered it, I just had to join in on the fun!

Back then, teaching blogs were scarce, but the few that I found were absolute gems.  They had really unique names too! At the time,  I recall just really wanting to create a name that would be memorable and that could endure changes in teaching assignments over time. So, I settled on “One Extra Degree,” because I fervently believe that, as teachers, even with our full plates and our cups that runneth over, going that extra mile… or EXTRA DEGREE… for our students is always a worthwhile investment of our time, energy, and resources.
A Snapshot of Amanda's Learning Oasis
A Snapshot of Amanda’s Learning Oasis

2. You have a popular blog. How do you make time for blogging, and what advice would you offer to someone just starting out with a blog?

I am seriously so blown away by the fact that ANYONE reads my blog, and I am so incredibly thankful for my followers. I truthfully feel like my blogging ebbs and flows. I always try to keep things in perspective, so sometimes blogging just isn’t at the top of my scroll-like list. Sometimes, I have other commitments and responsibilities to my own classroom, and I just have to take a little breather. Then, I catch up and share the highlight reels when I catch my breath!

The truth is, we’re all normal teachers just like everyone else, and as much as we love to share our teaching lives with teachers on the blog-o-sphere, life just gets in the way sometimes! 🙂  I DO try to make time for blogging on Saturday afternoons though. I have found that creating a schedule and routine for it helps keep me more accountable! During the summer, I try to share a lot more since I have more time on my hands, and that makes me feel better about my weekly blogging updates throughout the school-year. Blogging is a hobby, for sure, but it’s funny how quickly it also becomes a lifestyle and a support system.

I think the most difficult thing about blogging, for me at least, is allowing myself to be vulnerable and transparent with such a large audience, and sometimes allowing myself to be absent too. When it comes down to it though, I like to think that I acquired followers over time because teachers found my ideas useful… but also because I try to keep it REAL. I think, at the end of the day, you have to be yourself. You have to blog about what YOU are passionate about, and you have to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing out there. If I tried to keep up with everyone, I think I would seriously have a meltdown of epic proportions! My advice to new bloggers is to just take it one day at a time, share your own special talents, and be YOU-tiful!

3. What TpT resources have you recently used with your students?

Ya know, we all have the extra sixth sense as teachers, and we can pick up on student growth through observations and day-to-day interactions, but when I administered diagnostics this week, and the trajectories were shooting way up and away from the expected yearly growth, that was a defining moment for me. That’s when I really realized I was on to something this year.I teach 3rd and 4th grade Language Arts and Social Studies, and I am currently using my Close Reading: Reading Like Detectives resource, my Interactive Literature Circles file, and my Interactive Notebook Flapbooks with my students.

A Valentine Box Book Report: Making Learning FUN!
A Valentine Box Book Report: Making Learning FUN!

I use these products on almost a daily basis, and my students have grown so much more reflective and strategic as a result. I am an extremely proud mama bear, and I cannot wait to see how much they continue to grow this year! On top of the existing layers, I am also currently launching my Biography Wax Museum project. The excitement in my classroom is through the roof, and honestly, I have just as much fun as they do! I love making my students fall in love with reading and igniting that spark. It definitely makes my heart go pitter-pat!

4. When you are not teaching, creating resources, or blogging, how do you like to spend your time?

Oh my goodness! If I am being completely real with you, since there are only so many hours in the day, I spend a considerable amount of time on school stuff! I am so blessed to have a job that I absolutely adore… that also happens to be my greatest hobby!

 

Date night with Mr. Wonderful!
Date night with Mr. Wonderful!

 

As much as I can get wrapped up in the details and the never-ending stream of ideas that flit around in my brain, I really do try to have a balanced life. I always make sure that I carve out time to hang out with my husband. He’s definitely my best friend, and we have a lot of fun together!  He is the more practical, more logical side of our partnership, and conversely, he helps get me out of the house to explore and LIVE LIFE instead of always working! 🙂  We have two golden retrievers that are kind of like our children (for now at least), and I take Loralei to agility classes every Tuesday.

 

Amanda's Puppy Babies: Loralei & Stella
Amanda’s Puppy Babies: Loralei & Stella

 

I also take spinning classes with a few of my teacher friends after school, and that has been a much needed stress reliever for me! I enjoy going to church on Sunday, decorating my house, making yummy food, and thrifting, just to name a few other hobbies. I also have a slight obsession with singing… and reading… and I am just starting to get into presenting on a larger scale… so that’s also something I’ve had to carve out time for.

I will be starting more coursework for a gifted endorsement SOON too!  I guess you could say I am a busybody. I really don’t like to relax… and I don’t think I truly even know how to. One thing is for sure though, I need at least eight hours of sleep a night in order to function, so no matter what, you can bet that I am in bed by 10:30 at the very latest! Ha!

5. Who are the Teacher-Authors who influence you the most?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I am absolutely BLOWN AWAY by how my life has been transformed through our online community.

I truly didn’t have any expectations when I started blogging in 2010. I was really excited when a blog post received even a single comment. It affirmed that at least one person was reading my blog! I always hoped that someone out there in this big ole’ world could benefit from my planning, but I also never imagined how much I would grow as an educator in the process.

I’ve learned so much from other bloggers and teacher-authors! I’ve used so many of their wonderful ideas with my own students with great success!What I never anticipated as I started my blogging and TpT journey was how many friendships I would cultivate, and how many teachers I would have the pleasure of meeting in real life at blogging meet-ups, at workshops, and just out and about in the community.

Amazingly, what started out simply as a creative outlet, led to incredible friendships with women that I already consider my “forever friends.” I am so thankful that God has blessed me through these professional and personal relationships. In fact, I still think blogging and surfing TpT should count as professional development because it has provided me with some of the best mentoring I have ever received.

So, fellow teachers, thank you for loving on your students, letting your light shine, and being such an inspiration to me!  TpT really is a wonderful extended family!

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We’ve certainly enjoyed learning more about Amanda from One Extra Degree and we hope you have too. Be sure to check out our other 5 Questions posts.

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