Meet Jodi Southard, TpT Teacher-Author as well as Teacher-Blogger at Fun in First. When we first wrote to Jodi to see if she wished to participate in our 5 questions blog series, we had no idea she was expecting a little one. Well, she had that little one and it’s a boy — Congratulations Southard family!

We hope you are inspired by reading about Jodi Southard and how she got her start with Teachers Pay Teachers.

1. Jodi, your products are lovely! What is your process from idea stage to product launch?

Thank you! I try to always keep a notebook with me to jot down ideas that come to me at any given time. I have, however, written ideas on receipts, napkins, and many other scraps of paper when I haven’t had a notebook with me. New ideas usually come to me while I’m actually teaching and I can see firsthand what my students need. I always gear my products toward my own students and what would work best for them. After coming up with an idea, I map it out on paper before moving to my computer. I’m a very visual person and I need to lay it out first. Once I get to my computer, the hard work begins. I purchase my fonts and clip art from amazing Sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers and I am so thankful for them because they’re such an important part of each product. They make my job much easier and a lot more fun. Once I complete a product, I always send it to a few followers to have them proof it for me. I can look at something a hundred times and still miss a mistake, so I like to have some more eyes look it over for me before posting it to TpT. Creating a new product is time-consuming, but completely worth it in the end.

2. You have a couple of adorable girls (and a brand new little boy) who keep you VERY busy. What are your educational hopes for your kids? 

I think every parent has high educational hopes for their own children. My oldest is in 2nd grade and attends the same school where I teach. I have loved having her at school with me. She has a true love of learning and is so inquisitive. My middle child will start Kindergarten next year and she has the same enthusiasm for learning. I think this is the ultimate goal. I want my children to love learning and know the importance of being lifelong learners. I think being a parent has helped me to see my own students in a different light as well. I know the kind of teacher I hope for my own children to have and I strive to be that teacher for each of my students.


3. What are your three favorite products and why?

My favorite product is my Comprehension Notebook, which I’ve created for Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade. It was a labor of love writing each of the stories, but I was so happy with how they turned out in the end. I included a variety of fiction and nonfiction stories in each of the packets. I love this product because it is simple to fit it in during my week of teaching, and it allows my students to review important reading skills including comprehension strategies, fluency, and vocabulary.

My second favorite products are my Games Galore No Prep Math and Literacy Games. I use these all the time in my classroom. They do not involve any planning ahead and are perfect for reviewing skills in a fun way. My students absolutely love these games and they don’t even realize that they’re learning. I print them off each month and keep them on my desk. Whenever we have a couple extra minutes to spare or I see that my students are losing focus and need a break, I’ll pull one of the games out.

A new free product in my store that I loved this year was my Parent Teacher Conference Forms. I had each of my students fill out some self-evaluations and they were so wonderful to share with parents during conference time. These forms are editable and easy for any teacher to use in their classroom.

4. Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

Creating a teaching blog (Fun in First) and starting a Teachers Pay Teachers store has completely changed my teaching life. Almost two years ago, with the help of other TpT Sellers who were willing to donate their own products, we were able to raise over $10,000 for a 2nd grader at my school in need of a heart transplant. It was such a rewarding experience and I am thrilled to report that she had her heart transplant shortly afterwards and is doing amazing! Later that school year, I was chosen as the 2013-2014 Teacher of the Year for our school corporation and was an Indiana Teacher of the Year Semi-Finalist. Last summer, I presented for Staff Development for Educators (SDE) National I Teach 1st  Conference in Las Vegas. Three years ago, I would have never in my wildest dreams thought that this is where blogging and TpT would have led me, but I am thankful every day for each of these opportunities and I know what a blessing it has been.

5. How would your students describe you?

I would hope that my students would describe me as caring and willing to help. My ultimate goal is to make learning fun and exciting and to ignite a love for learning. I want my students to love coming to school and to feel like they are welcomed and genuinely cared for while there. We are a family in my classroom. Teaching is hard work and of course it can be easy to get overwhelmed and burnt out. After 13 years of teaching, I know I need to try and keep things fresh and exciting, not only for me, but for my students. It may be my 13th year in the classroom, but it’s only the first time for each of my students to be in my 1st grade classroom. And they deserve the best of me.

Jodi’s Inviting Classroom


That’s so wonderful about how the TpT community rallied to support the 2nd grader at your school and her family. Thanks for being part of TpT, Jodi; we look forward to many more great years together!

See how other Teacher-Authors have gotten their start with TpT in our 5 questions blog series.