The photo above is of Jen Runde of Runde’s Room, her three lovely daughters, and her husband (who was also her high school sweetheart!)
How fun to spend a little time with Jen from Runde’s Room! While Jen isn’t our first international 5 Questions post, this marks the first time many of us get to see the smiling face behind the cute store profile. Jen’s responses will give you a real sense of this dedicated educator and mom.
1. Tell us a little bit about you. Who is behind Runde’s Room?
I’m Jen — the teacher behind Runde’s Room. I grew up in a small city in Northern Ontario, and still live here. Growing up, I was very involved in music and dance. My time in dance allowed me the opportunity to travel all around the world for performances. Two of my most memorable experiences were performing at World Expo in Spain in 1992, and performing in various cities across Russia. My memories of Russia are particularly vivid right now as I’m sitting here watching the Olympics. I married my high school sweetheart almost twelve years ago, and we have three amazing little girls, ages 6, 8, and 10. Our girls keep us very busy with their soccer and dancing schedules, but we wouldn’t change a minute of it (well, to be honest, sleeping in on a weekend would be nice, but we’ll have our weekends back soon enough when they are all grown up). We love our family time — and fill it with mini vacations, sports, time at the park, board games… we’ve recently taken up skiing as a family, and it’s a hit!
I’m in my 14th year of teaching — and I’m still at the same small rural school where I started. I have taught all grades between 5 and 8, and currently have a split 5/6 class. When I first decided to become a teacher, I envisioned teaching high school. I really enjoyed my student teaching stints at the high school level, but it also made me realize how much I wanted to teach all the curriculum subjects, and wanted a group of students of my very own for the whole day. So, I went back to school for my junior qualifications, and I’ve been so happy with my chosen grades.
2. How did you get started on TpT?
I started on TpT in August of 2010. I had stumbled across the site a year before that and spent some time looking around before I downloaded a few freebies for my class. Over that year, TpT would keep popping up every now and then … and each time I saw it I thought, I could do that. In the summer of 2010, I read something that Laura Candler had posted on Facebook about TpT. Finally having a little extra time on my hands because of summer, I hopped back on the site, and joined as a seller. I uploaded my first products within hours… and the dashboard addiction began. I made my first sale a day or two later, and within days after that, upgraded to a premium membership.
3. Who inspires you?
I’m inspired by so many people. First and foremost, my own children. They make me want to be a better person every single day. They make me find that balance between work and family, and are quick to remind me when that balance is off. My students inspire me. They always work hard for me, so I have to give them the same back — every day. We encourage and motivate each other — and together we always accomplish amazing things. My fellow teachers in the TpT and blogging world inspire me with their brilliance. They are constantly raising the bar, and making me want to be a better teacher. Having a community of teachers all over the globe to reach out to, to bounce ideas off of, to learn from, is such an amazing experience that I would have never had the chance to realize if it wasn’t for TpT.
4. What are your three favorite products and why?
I am a huge advocate of students taking control over their own learning, and becoming more independent workers and reflective thinkers during the process. Two of my favourite products that I think really help my students achieve this are my Interactive Math Journal and my Question Fans. Both allow students that hands-on aspect with the material and really get them thinking about their learning. These products are staples in my classroom, and I have seen them make a difference in my students’ learning and confidence levels.
My favourite free product is my Fairy Tales Drama Circle. My students LOVE performing drama circles. They are a fabulous way to practice listening skills, collaboration, team work, and oral speaking skills. The first time I pull one out with a new group of students, I always get a few scared looks from some of my quieter students. However, the moment the activity is finished, they are the first ones to beg to do the activity again.
5. You hail from Canada. How do you make sure your resources work for all teachers?
Is it possible for a Canadian to achieve success on TpT? You bet it is! If anything, TpT and the blogging world have really broken down those borders that used to separate us. It’s simple — kids are kids — no matter where they live. They all learn best when they are motivated to learn. That motivation comes from fun and engaging materials and lessons — with just the right amount of rigor and challenge thrown in. That is the exact combination I strive to achieve when planning and creating the materials I make. I want my students to go home every day, excited to share something they have learned during the day.
One thing I have learned is that our curriculums in Canada and the U.S. are quite similar. Although I create materials with my own students and curriculum at the forefront, I also look for those connections to the Common Core (I’m willing to bet I’m not the only Canadian TpT seller who has “bookmarked” the Common Core as a favourite on my computer). Once I’ve narrowed my focus, I think about how I can present that material in an engaging way that my students will respond to. This is a formula that has definitely worked for me. If it works for my students, it will work for other teachers and their students because my students have the same needs as students all around the world. They need to feel secure, respected, and successful. They need to be challenged, to learn how to collaborate with others, and to persevere when working independently. These are the kinds of resources I try to create.
Great stuff! We love it. Take a gander at all of our 5 Questions posts and get to know the Teacher-Authors behind the TpT stores.