I started out teaching test prep classes to high school students for a company; then I student taught in urban and suburban high schools before getting my first full-time job as a middle school literacy specialist, and now finally as a 7th and 8th grade ELA teacher. I still tutor high school students 3-5 days a week, which is great to not only keep my feet in both worlds, but to also make sure I know what the local high schools are doing and how to best prepare my 8th graders to become freshmen.
How'd you get started on TeachersPayTeachers?
A coteacher of mine was a TpT seller, and one day she looked at the debate unit I was teaching and said, "You should put this on Teachers Pay Teachers!" Her encouragement was what gave me the confidence to upload more of my materials and take my store seriously.
What aspect of teaching really gets you fired up?
I get fired up about a lot of topics in ELA, but the top three would probably be grammar, technology, and writing. Most of my students come to me as great readers already, so I spend a lot of time on different genres of writing, making grammar less painful, and using Google Classroom and Drive for the drafting and feedback processes in writing. I also love flipping the classroom, whether I have made the videos or my students do peer instruction with ones they've made! For example, my Grammar Video project is an 8th grade tradition now, and their videos become the basis for my whole year of flipped grammar.
What's the funniest/weirdest memory you have from middle or high school?
I had some zany, amazing teachers in middle school who did silly things like draw faces on hands, teach math angles on the basketball court, make us read The Diary of Anne Frank underneath desks to make us cramped, and do other fun techniques to make us learn. Most of my fun memories come from them, so I've tried to think about that while planning units that would create experiences.
Which of your resources do you enjoy teaching the most?
I probably enjoy teaching my "15 Minutes of Fame" or my "Narratives about Literature" projects the most! It's a close tie because the "15 minutes" speeches are hilarious and can be graded in class (which is a huge bonus), but my kids do an amazing job writing deleted scenes and alternate endings from books, so I actually enjoy grading them. (I know how unlikely that sounds, but those narratives have caused me to laugh out loud and cry real tears at home. It feels like I'm getting bonus chapters of a fantastic novel!)
At the risk of forgetting someone, I know I've used lessons from Teaching FUNdamentals, Created for Learning, Brain Waves Instruction, Julie Faulkner, Mixed-Up Files, Presto Plans, Danielle Knight, and Tracee Orman before, and I've got a lot of other sellers on my Wish List or my to-teach list!
What are your non-teaching hobbies?
I'm a concert percussionist and a marching snare drummer, so I keep African drums in my classroom for kids to occasionally play with. I'm also involved with a co-ed subsection of Boy Scouts called Venturing, and I'm a merit badge counselor for many of my students who are in Scouting.
What are some quirky details about yourself?
I love golden retrievers, Diet Coke, trivia games, Scrabble, talking with my hands, Ohio State football (O-H!), and telling stories.
Sara, thanks so much for stopping by to let us get to know you better! We're not sure if this Ohio State fangirlness is acceptable (War Eagle!), but everything else is entirely made of awesome!
Connect up with