On the fabulous occasion of Teachers Pay Teachers’ 10th birthday, I’m thinking about how teachers and teaching are overarching themes in my life. I suspect I’m not alone in that. Educators have such a profound impact on so many of us. While for me teachers have equaled support and success, my experience with teaching was insurmountable. Of course, that was before TpT came along and changed everything. Take a stroll with me through four chapters of my life with teachers.
Chapter 1: I’m a student.
I grew up in New York City and attended public school K-12: P.S. 75, Manhattan East, and LaGuardia HS for Music & Art and Performing Arts (I was a fine art major). Growing up, I was immersed in the rich multicultural tapestry that is NYC at its best. I remember, during those years, not being sure if I was smart. To me, it felt like I could go either way. Maybe yes, maybe no. It was my teachers who convinced me. This history teacher, that writing teacher, and others who treated me Iike I had the capacity to be smart and transmitted to me that I had something important to say. I became smart. It’s not that simple, but it also is. I know my teachers believing in me had a deep effect on the person I am now.
Chapter 2: I’m a teacher.
After college, I worked in publishing. Books! Writing! Ideas! I loved it, but something was off. I was too far away from the good I was doing. The books went into people’s hands, but I wasn’t there to be a part of it. I decided to become a teacher. For lack of a better term, that was a harsh wake-up call. I wanted so desperately to be an inspiring, motivating, helpful educator who made a real difference in the minds and lives of students. There was a lot that got in the way of that desire: the press, the new standardized tests, unhappy parents, overworked administrators. Add on top I never felt like I could get ahead on planning.
I do think, “What if TpT had been around then?” and I feel sure it would have made a huge difference for me. It wouldn’t have fixed everything, but to have the kind of community and support that lives on TpT, not to mention access to so many fantastic teaching resources. During my brief teaching tenure, there were certainly good moments. My students were wonderful young adults. I worked alongside great educators. But everything felt impossibly hard. I stopped being a teacher.
Chapter 3: I’m a parent.
My daughter is 9 now. She’s in the 4th grade. She’s wonderful, creative, bright, funny, fun, but she is not the kid you tell what to do once and she does it.
My daughter’s teachers have become my partners. Together we figure out how to support her. How to help her develop the tools she needs. I am so deeply grateful for these teachers for their patience, their creative problem solving, their care. I am in awe of what they do every day.
Chapter 4: I work at TpT.
Best job I’ve ever had. Most challenging job I’ve ever had. I feel like I’m back in school. I get stretched and pulled and I can feel myself growing. I know I’m contributing to something great.
I’m dedicated to my TpT Teachers. I’m wowed by the work they put out into the world and the impact they have in so many classrooms, for so many teachers, on so many students. I see their creative solutions and the magnificent ideas they share and I’m endlessly inspired. How do they do it? These Teacher-Authors collaborate with other educators to help them be the teachers they want to be. They work tirelessly to transform great ideas into resources other educators can use. They are the experts and the solution we need. Teaching is an art, a gift, a passion, a skill. It should be celebrated, respected, lauded in every way, and certainly shared.
TpT takes the negative cycle I experienced as a new teacher and turns it on its head. Bad to good. Alone to supported. Without a path to a path filled with creative educators, engaging activities and rich, meaningful learning that lets the teacher concentrate on the students, the teaching, and everything else (so much!), instead of endless cycles creating and recreating.
Happy Birthday, TpT. Thank you, Paul, for conceiving of this remarkable site where teachers are the experts. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for inviting me to be a part of it. Thank you, Adam and everyone on Team TpT for caring so deeply about what we do and for working so hard to make it great for all of our teachers, SLPs, librarians, homeschoolers, and all the other educators. I’m ready for another 10 years. I can hardly wait!