What I Am Thankful For

Although Thanksgiving often brings it about, we should take time to consider what we're thankful for many times throughout the year. What am I thankful for? Teachers Pay Teachers. During a rough time in our lives, Teachers Pay Teachers came through to help us get through that financial tough spot--and it involved me getting over my mindset that all teachers should share everything freely.
We have a lot to be thankful for around here. My husband and I are employed (I almost said gainfully, but we are, after all, teachers :)). We just had a week off complete with perpetual turkey coma in the form of an obscene amount of leftovers. We have three more weeks of work, and then we get two weeks off. I'm feeling pretty much like this is the life.

Of course, all you teachers know the truth--the time off is spectacular, but it's seldom restful. There is just so much to do.

There are lessons to plan, papers to grade, turkeys to baste, children with projects to complete ("How long did you know about that one?" I never get a straight answer...).

Okay, so these are first world problems, but it is true that a teacher's job (like a parent's) is never done. So we all know that teacher-parents don't sleep.

One thing I had to admit I was thankful for this Thanksgiving (aside from the obvious family, friends, and job) is the internet.

It saves time. If you taught back in the day, you know this. You either had to create everything from scratch, or you had to order pricey materials through the mail. Now you can google a topic and free lessons pop up.

Or you can get high-quality, professional items at a very reasonable price on websites like Teachers Pay Teachers.

I know some people scoff at websites like this. "Teachers should share freely," they say. "Absolutely," I reply. And we all do. There are thousands of great free items on Teachers Pay Teachers. We pass papers back and forth in the copy room at work completely free of charge.

But if sharing freely applies to teachers, who put hours and hours into creating resources for their classrooms, then it should apply to the giant publishing houses, as well. So where's my free curriculum from them? :)

A year and a half ago, my husband had been out of work for awhile. We were barely scraping by (this is not a sob story--we have it way better than so many--but it is a tale about how we got by, so read on if you're interested, but skip to the free item at the bottom if you're not).

I was tutoring (and house-cleaning) to supplement our income (my husband waited tables), and it helped, but I was NEVER home for our son, so I had to start turning down jobs. We were cutting it so close every month that I would break into a cold sweat at the check out line in the grocery store, counting in my mind what I could put back if we came up short (bananas are an extravagance, and for that matter, so is meat--dried beans are highly nutritious--they went up a quarter--WHAT!!!). There was a lot of hair pulling, coupon-clipping, and bargaining with the electric company and bank.

One day, I did come up short at the grocery store check out. I put back juice, a box of cereal, ground beef, and bananas, and my debit card went through. I was leaving the store when one of the bag boys came up to me with the groceries I had put back. I was dumbfounded and more than a little embarrassed.

"That lady got your groceries," he said.

I looked over and saw a little old lady with white hair wave at me. I choked back a sob, held my head high, told her thank you, and that I would pay it forward.

My mom, an elementary school parapro, told me that a lot of teachers at her school use a website called Teachers Pay Teachers, and why didn't I try to sell some of my lessons on it? I was reticent to charge for things that I had been told I should be sharing freely, though.

But I had spent hours and hours and many a sleepless night working on these lessons. Why shouldn't my family benefit from them?

So I opened a store on TPT, uploaded lessons, and for the next year, while my husband was still looking for work, we didn't get rich, not at all (and I'm a very private person, so I cringe to type this--we lost our house), but we got by. And I no longer break into a cold sweat at the grocery store.

I hated going through it, but there are worse things to go through. So much worse. I always read Dave Ramsey, budgeted, saved, clipped coupons, drove cars until the doors fell off. And then that frustrating few years when my husband just couldn't find work, and my teacher's salary just couldn't support us--we both felt so guilty about not being able to stay afloat and about asking for help.

Selling my lessons got us through it. We lost a house, but we have each other, and we ate.

And I like to think that maybe my lessons have helped another teacher.

I know other teacher's lessons have helped me. Here's the first lesson I ever bought on TPT. I was in a bind and needed something last minute for a sub. A teacher made it, so it was incredibly practical and easy for a sub to implement. And it let me be mommy to a sick kid.

The other day, I was in the grocery check out when a lady's card was declined. I reached into my purse, took out my card, and started to hand it to the cashier when the lady said, "Wait, try this one." And it went through.

So I'm still waiting to pay it forward, but until then, here's a free world history project for all of the teachers that, as a parent, I am very grateful for. And my store (and most stores on TPT will be 28% off on the 30th and the 1st--just use the coupon code SMILE at checkout).

World War II Battle Project
Get it HERE
Have a very happy return to school, and remember...

Winter holidays are coming.
What are you thankful for this holiday season? Leave a comment below to let me know.


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