(The photo above is from a Teacher-Author gathering in Chicago. Cara Carroll is 2nd from the left in the front row.)

Did you hear the news??? Cara Carroll recently became our third Teacher-Author to achieve the coveted $500,000 milestone with profits from her TpT store. And honestly, it couldn’t have happened for a nicer, more humble individual. Read on to get the full scoop.

***

1.  How did you first come to TpT and when did you realize you’d turned a corner and things were really taking off?

I remember first finding out about TpT while reading Deanna Jump’s blog in November 2010. Deanna wrote a blog post all about her Veteran’s Day unit and I just HAD to have it. It was my first time buying a teacher created resource and I was immediately hooked. A few months later, TpT announced that Deanna hit her first milestone and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could just make a couple hundred extra dollars this year?!”  Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that things would have transpired the way they did. This has been the most unexpected blessing.

I don’t know if I ever really realized things were really taking off because I was in such shock that anyone felt like my resources were worth buying. I am so grateful for everyone who has put their faith in my products and supported me along the way! The greatest thing about TpT is that there’s room for everyone to have the same success!

Cara-Carrol-4
Cara Carroll With Her Family

2.  How do you challenge yourself to keep current with your resources? Do you ever run out of ideas?

Keeping current with anything is a challenge, but with the changing trends in education and the revolving door of needs and abilities in my own classroom, I feel like I’m constantly challenged to keep my resources current and relevant. Each year I teach a whole new crop of kids, so I have to make sure my resources meet their needs. This typically means I don’t use the same resources from year to year… I have to modify/adapt/create to fit the needs of the class I have in the present. I always carry a notebook with me to jot down ideas… I just wish I had the time to actually create them all! I have a notebook full of ideas and a hard drive full of “works in progress.” Maybe someday {{sigh}}. 🙂

3.  How has TpT affected your life most? 

TpT has been such a blessing. Of course, it has helped my family financially, but more importantly, TpT has blessed me with the most amazing friendships… and you really can’t put a dollar amount on that! I never could have imagined what a big part of my life these folks would become. What started out as a group of sellers collaborating, sharing ideas, and asking for advice quickly evolved into something so much bigger… these women are some of my absolute BEST friends and I have TpT to thank for that! I also love that TpT has given me a way to give back. God has given me this unique opportunity to help others and there is truly no greater blessing. Thank you, TpT!

4.  You have a vibrant teaching blog and also a really fascinating personal blog that covers things like cooking and decorating. What’s your approach to creating a successful blog?

Well thanks! I’m not so sure they’re very successful, but they’re very much a reflection of things I enjoy the most… teaching, eating, creating, and pretending like I know how to decorate.

If you’ve read either of my blogs, you probably know I like to talk… and I really try to write like I’m talking to my best friends. I’m not trying to say that’s a key to creating a successful blog, but it helps me keep it “real” and personal… and I love getting personal. I think the most important thing about blogging is to blog for you and write about things you enjoy that are important to you. Be authentic and don’t compare.

One of my favorite quotes is from Theodore Roosevelt… “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I couldn’t agree more. I blog about things I want to share and I don’t stress about how often I’m going to blog. If I have something I want to write, I’ll share it. If I don’t, then I’ll take the day off and give my carpal tunnel a rest. I don’t ever want to force a post just for the sake of putting something out there… I don’t want blogging to become a chore. I love it way too much.

Cara Carroll 1.1
Cara & Her Boys – 1st Day of School
“We’re all together this year!”

5.  What are your two favorite paid resources and your one favorite freebie, and why?  

If you would’ve asked me 12 years ago what my favorite subject was to teach, Math would NOT have been at the top of my list. After teaching K,1, & 2, I’ve absolutely fallen in LOVE with teaching math & creating resources to enhance my instruction in this area.

One of my favorite resources is my Don’t Forget My Number packet. Setting a strong foundation in numeracy and number sense is so important and the resources in this packet have helped my kids tremendously in this area. The numeral anchor charts included have been a great resource for my kids, too.

Speaking of Math, my Math Missions packet is another one of my favorites. While racking my brain for ideas to make the most of my math block and get my kids engaged in hands-on, meaningful activities, Math Missions was born.

This packet keeps my kids accountable, but allows them work at their own pace. They’re able to get up, move around, and “accept missions” that reinforce important math concepts. Plus, they absolutely LOVE earning mission badges and collecting fingerprints for each mission accomplished! This has definitely been one of my favorite things to implement in the classroom!

My favorite free resource is my schedule cards. They’re simple and effective and there are tons of cards included in the packet. My kids love using these as their visual reminders throughout the day and I love that I don’t have 18 little cuties asking me, “is it time for recess yet?!?!?” 😉

***

If you’ve enjoyed this post, don’t miss the rest of our 5 Questions series.

Comment