Calling All Writers

If you are like most teachers I know, you have a lot on your mind and a lot to say when it comes to education (and life in general). Maybe you’ve always dreamed of becoming an educational blogger or being published in some prestigious education journal, or maybe you just fancy yourself a writer in addition to being the stellar teacher you are. Whatever your motivating factors are, Teacher Sweepers is now accepting guest blog submissions. While we can’t pay you for your work (not yet anyway – we’re brand new too), it could be a great jumping off point for a budding writing side gig. No experience is necessary, and we are looking for all different kinds of submissions. Really, the only requirement we have is that it has to do with education or teaching somehow, since that’s kinda our thing around here. We do try to avoid blatant negativity as well, because let’s face it – we deal with a lot of that already. We want to uplift, empower, and enlighten other teachers here at Teacher Sweepers while we provide an opportunity to win some awesome goodies.

We don't pay very well though, because we don't pay at all.
We don’t pay very well though, because we don’t pay at all. But having your work published will be reward enough.

Right now we really want to target more elementary teachers in our posts so we would love to have some K-6 teachers write for us. But we will totally accept anything that engages, entertains, or assists other teachers. So, email us at maya@teachersweepers.com if you would like to write for us. If you are already an established blogger, that’s great! We will gladly link back to your blog for your published piece. Or maybe you just have an idea of something we should cover here at Teacher Sweepers and would like us to write about it, drop us a line. Perhaps you have a brilliant idea for a giveaway too – let us know! Basically, we are all ears right now here at Teacher Sweepers. Now is your time to help us grow our website.

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How to Make This Your Best Year of Teaching Ever!

best year everIn every profession, there are bound to be good days and bad days.  As teachers, we certainly have good days and bad days in the classroom.  Many factors contribute to our assessment of whether a day was good or bad.  A bad day in teaching might consist of having to deal with “that student” again who comes to class late and is refusing to do any work, getting an angry phone call from a parent who can’t believe you haven’t taken the time to update a grade (of course the work was late and was just turned in earlier that morning), or having your prep period yanked away from you unexpectedly due to a last minute meeting that popped up and you feel obligated to attend.  Sometimes, after you’ve been in the teaching profession long enough, you may even feel like you have good years and bad years instead of just good days and bad days.  While we certainly can’t accurately predict whether a day or even a year will be good or bad for all of our loyal blog readers, here at Teacher Sweepers we have some great ideas of how you can at least attempt to make this your best year of teaching ever!  Let’s take a look at some of our tried and true ideas of how you can help yourself (and your fellow teachers) kick some ass this coming school year.

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Ready. Set. Go make this your best year EVER!

1. Start prepping for the upcoming school year earlier than you normally would. Even if you aren’t fully willing or ready to step foot in your classroom just yet, at least start by making a list of to-do items to start on as soon as you are mentally a little more ready.  We all get it – summer is amazing, and we want to savor every last juicy bit of it.  Here’s the problem though, school will be back in session, whether you are ready or not!  Ignoring the upcoming back to school season won’t make it go away, no matter how hard we try to pretend that our precious summer isn’t evaporating before our very eyes!  So take those baby steps and start getting your mind back into the game earlier this year.  School might be the last thing on your mind right now, but if you take the time to get some of your work done now, you can have those last few weeks before school starts to be a little less stressed and a little more carefree knowing you have done your prep work ahead of schedule this year.  No one likes to feel rushed and frantic right before school starts, so do yourself a favor and get those copies made, get those lesson plans done, and be fully prepared for your students to arrive.

Make the time now to get your classroom prep work done early.
Make the time now to get your classroom prep work done early before the back to school rush.

2. Spend your school year celebrating mini made up milestones with your co-workers all year long. As silly as it sounds, this idea has been seriously fun and successful. Our office of teachers decided to celebrate the school year completion in ten percent increments last year.  For every ten percent of the school year that was completed, we had a little mini celebration.  It was hilarious (we had a “wear your poncho to school” day for one of our celebrations), it was delicious (we often had food and drink celebrations), and it was something we all ended up looking forward to as a group.

Celebrate anything and everything! It will make your school year better, I promise.
Celebrate anything and everything! It will make your school year better, I promise.

3. Make a commitment to try something new this year in your classroom. Teachers can notoriously be creatures of habit when it comes to lesson planning, instruction, and even classroom management. Why not try something new and different this year? Maybe you’ve heard of another teacher gushing about a cool new app that you’ve thought about trying (hello ZipGrade – more on this later; it’s getting its own post!) or maybe you want to finally try some sort of online classroom website (Google Classroom, Edmodo, Moodle etc.) or it can be as simple as changing up the configuration of the tables or desks in your room.  Go for it!  Spice up your routine by adding a little something different.  It can be invigorating, enlightening, and it could just be your new favorite aspect of teaching.

Go ahead! Get a little techy this year in your classroom.
Go ahead and get a little techy this year in your classroom.  Try a new teaching app or online classroom platform.

4. Counteract any negativity you encounter throughout the school year with positivity. This can be a huge undertaking, and it can also be the most important and rewarding one. Let’s make a real-world connection here. Let’s say one of your students has just written all over one of your beautiful new textbooks.  You are pissed, and now you have to discipline that student, make a phone call home, write a referral, and deal with this whole situation on top of your normal teaching routine.  Instead of letting the anger consume you, cool off by writing a little note to a student who wrote an outstanding essay or take the time to call home about a student who did something thoughtful for a classmate.  It’s like the good old adage about not going to bed angry in a marriage.  Use this same theory in the classroom – don’t leave the classroom for the day angry.  That way you won’t risk allowing your foul school mood to spill over into your after school routine.

Get your anger out of your system by doing something more productive and positive.
Get your anger out of your system by doing something more productive and positive.

5. Get out of your classroom more. This is an incredibly important part of my day.  In between classes, I make sure to go out into the hall to have six precious minutes of adult interaction with my team of teachers. Passing time for the students allows me to step out of the classroom to talk and laugh a little with my colleagues, and as an added bonus we can keep an eye on our students in the hallways for a little unofficial hall duty. This also goes for the beginning of our day before school even starts.  We pretty religiously meet up at “our corner” outside of our classrooms to start our day together, and it’s a great way to start our day.  Try it – you just might like it!  Teaching can be so isolating at times, but it doesn’t have to be if you make a concerted effort to connect with others.

It may seem impossible to get out of your classroom, but do it! You'll be a better teacher because of it!
It may seem impossible to get out of your classroom, but do it! You’ll be a better teacher because of it!

6. Find your squad, your people, your posse at your school. As mentioned in number 5, teaching can be isolating.  After all, we spend most of our day surrounded by kiddos at least half our age.   Make it a priority to connect with some of your colleagues this year and form a network of like-minded teachers. You will find that cultivating relationships with your colleagues will lessen your stress and make your job more fulfilling.  Once your form your squad, make sure you carve out time to bond and spend time with one another.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to find this bonding time outside of school (although, most likely you will find yourself in extracurricular social situations with your squad).  Make time at lunch, on your prep, between classes, and before school.  Our squad religiously has pizza Fridays every week and it gives us something to look forward to all week, and we always have lots of laughs and fun when we get together.  If you can’t quite find “your people” at your school, at least try to find time to connect with at least one other person at school.  We all need a support system, and sometimes that can be found solely in one other co-worker.

Every teacher needs a buddy at school. Find your person (or people) at school and turn to them for support.
Every teacher needs a buddy at school. Find your person (or people) at school and turn to them for support.

7. Carve out some time to pamper and indulge yourself during this school year. As teachers, we can easily become consumed by putting the needs of everyone else before our own.  I have found that if I make a conscious effort to schedule in some “me time” I am a better person all around because of it.  Whether it’s a massage, getting your hair done, getting a manicure, or doing something else that is just for you – do it, and don’t feel guilty!  You deserve a little pampering, so go ahead and spoil yourself a little.  It doesn’t even have to cost money either.  I sometimes consider a solo walk out on the trail an indulgence.  Take care of your body, mind, and soul – because teaching can really take a toll on all three of these entities.

Treat yo self!
Go ahead and treat yourself!  You deserve it!

8. Take a new teacher or student teacher under your wing this school year. Think back to when you were a new teacher at your current school or go even further back to your own student teaching.  Remember how lost, insecure, and overwhelmed you felt?  How about being a guiding light to someone who is now in that same situation and experiencing those same feelings?  Befriending or mentoring a new teacher or a student teacher can be a great way for you to have a renewed sense of purpose and passion for education this school year.  Take the new teacher under your wing and be the person you wish you had to rely on during these crucial first few years of someone else’s newly blossoming teaching career.  Even if that means just simply stopping them in the hallway or dropping a quick email to see how they are doing or see if they need anything, it will mean the world to them and make you remember how far you’ve come in your own teaching career.  It will help to rejuvenate you as well when you see the innocence and excitement of a new teacher just beginning their educational journey.

We all know how overwhelming it can be to be a new teacher or a student teacher. Take that newbie under your wing and help them this year. You'll be a better teacher because of it.
We all know how overwhelming it can be to be a new teacher or a student teacher. Take that newbie under your wing and help them this year.

9. Have a sense of humor whenever possible. I cannot begin to even think about what my teaching career would be like if I had no sense of humor.  Humor has gotten me through some very tough days at school (and life in general).  Try to find the humor in every situation.  Now sometimes, that just isn’t feasible or appropriate, but whenever possible – laugh it off.  If you genuinely can’t find the humor in something because there is none to be had, at least try to find the bright side of the situation or find the lesson to be learned.  Just like you ask the students to reflect on what they’ve learned, take any difficult situation you may encounter this school year, turn it into a learning opportunity and move on.  Too often, we as teachers take things way too seriously and way too personally, when we should all just make like Elsa and LET IT GO (let’s be honest, that song is stuck in your head now, and you likely don’t even remember what was stressing you out because you’re too busy singing the soundtrack to Frozen).

Why so serious? Laugh at yourself a little this year, or someone else will do it for you!
Actual photo of me after school (just kidding). Why so serious?Laugh at yourself a little this year.

10. Last but not least, to truly reach your highest potential and have your best year of teaching ever, visit us here at teachersweepers.com for inspiration, humor, and best of all – giveaways! Remember to come back weekly for new blog posts, and monthly for new teacher-only sweepstakes.  Why not further your commitment and sign up for our mailing list? Just do it already! We won’t spam your mailbox with useless junk because quite frankly, we don’t know how to do that, nor do we have the time for it because we are busy teachers just like you! Lastly, more support from teachers like you means bigger and better prizes for all, so share our website if you will.  We love you for your ongoing support! We truly hope that Teacher Sweepers helps you to have the best year of teaching ever! best year ever

Take a minute to comment below and tell us how you plan to make this your best year ever!

What to do when you have no classroom supply budget

IMG_0751It’s mid-July. Slowly but surely the “Back to School” sales are coming upon us.  On one hand, I love getting a good deal; on the other hand, I loathe the thought of pushing pause on my summer fun to think about spending my own money on my classroom supplies.  Just today my husband asked me how many of the 17 cent notebooks he should pick up for me from Walmart.  That conversation ended with the semi-serious question, “How many can you fit in a shopping cart?”

How many of these will fit into a Walmart shopping cart? Asking for a friend.
How many of these will fit into a Walmart shopping cart? Asking for a friend.

It’s an unfortunate reality that teachers around the nation face – little to no money for us to do our jobs – TEACH!  Classroom supply budgets are becoming a thing of the past for many of us.  When I first started teaching nearly eighteen years ago, we had healthy, robust classroom supply budgets.  I could basically get whatever I wanted and needed for my students.  Now, I am reduced to begging on Facebook for basic supplies. Some of my most generous donations from Facebook have come from former students.  This is so bittersweet to me, because I love that they are willing to help me, but it’s almost embarrassing to have to ask for help. I say almost because I am certainly not above it, and I am extremely grateful for that extra help. I appreciate anything that anyone is willing to donate to my classroom.

Teachers spend an average of $500 of their own hard-earned money on their classrooms.  To me, that sounds low, but it’s an average, so that number factors in those who spend none, and those who spend well over $1,000. I don’t necessarily keep track of what I spend, because it has just become commonplace for me to pick up a notebook here, a pack of pencils there, some Expo markers when the good ones are dried out or mysteriously disappear… etc.  I will also make special trips to the store if a student is in need of something in particular and it’s inexpensive enough for me to grab it for them.

Is it just me? Or do new Expo dry erase markers make other teachers just as happy? Especially in Tropical Tones!?
Is it just me? Or do new Expo dry erase markers make other teachers just as happy? Especially in Tropical Tones!?

Honestly, I can’t think of other professions which necessitate a professional to purchase their own supplies.  These are not just any supplies either – these are supplies which are absolutely necessary to properly do a job. Imagine if doctors had to humbly take to Facebook to solicit donations for them to interact with their patients.  Their post might sound something like this:  “Hey Facebook friends!  So, I ran out of tongue depressors and band-aids today.  Can anyone possibly donate some so I can keep helping my patients?  Thanks!”  Now let’s replace the items with a teacher’s plea for donations:  “Hey Facebook friends!  So, I ran out of lined paper and pencils today.  Can anyone possibly donate some so I can keep teaching my students? Thanks!” Why is it that it sounds comically ludicrous for a doctor to ask for supplies, yet it seems completely acceptable for a teacher to ask for supplies?

I certainly don’t want to sound like an educational martyr because I choose to spend my own money on my classroom to make my job “easier,” but the reality is teachers are spending more and more of their own hard-earned money every year. I also don’t want to blame the school districts either, as their hands are tied as well with ongoing budget cuts and woes.  My school district tries to support our needs in every way. I know that if I truly need something, I could talk to my principal and he would do whatever he could to help me secure any items I deem to be necessary.

But, let’s face it, education as a whole has taken a beating in the budget department nationwide.  Many schools don’t have money for professional development, teacher/classroom supplies, or building improvements. Many schools are also forced to make choices about which courses they can offer because of budget constraints.  We all know that music and art classes often take a hit because some view these courses as being extracurricular or unnecessary (which couldn’t be further from the truth).

So, with all of these budget woes, what can a teacher do to ensure that all students have what they need?  Sometimes we have to get a little creative, jump through some extra hoops, and we have to beg and borrow – but we always get the job done!  Let’s take a look at some easy ways to supplement our non-existent classroom supply budgets.

First of all, if you are not the type to ask for help, you should reconsider your stance. Last year when I found out we would not have any classroom supply money, I took my plight to Facebook.  I was amazed at the response!  I had classroom supplies (that actually ended up lasting me all year) pouring in from my Facebook friends.  I would get random messages all the time asking if I could meet up so people could give me supplies they had picked up while they were out shopping.  I will totally admit to looking completely shady and meeting people in parking lots so we could exchange the goods.  You know, they would give me school supplies, I would give them a genuine appreciative hug for their thoughtfulness!  I’ve also taken to Facebook to ask for help with needy students, and the response has been incredible. We’re talking new shoes, new clothes, backpacks and other supplies for students who were in desperate need.

This whole table in my classroom was full of goodies from donations from Facebook friends last year.
This whole table in my classroom was full of goodies from donations from Facebook friends last year.

Another perfect example of asking for help is letting parents know that you are accepting donations. I know that when my own son would bring home a note asking for certain classroom supplies, we were more than happy to provide those items. If you are able to reach out to parents via email or a newsletter, don’t be afraid to let them know that you are in need of something.  The more specific your requests for your classroom, the better. You could also make a wishlist of items to have available at an open house or during conferences.  Most parents will be more than happy to help you and your classroom, as it will likely benefit their own child. This is more of a popular practice in the elementary grades, but I see no reason we can’t ask for help at the secondary level as well.

A really great way to get more for your classroom can be through grant funding.  A couple of years back, I successfully applied for and received a grant to get my team of teachers some amazing supplies to implement a new Reading Apprenticeship program. It was really a painless and easy process to apply for the grant, and we were thrilled when we got it.  We had a lot of fun shopping for it too (but then again, my team of teachers pretty much has fun whenever we are together), and the supplies lasted well beyond that school year.

If possible, consider charging students for supplies.  Now, that’s not necessarily feasible at all grade levels, but as a secondary teacher, students are certainly able to give you a quarter or two for a pencil or a notebook. That money can be recycled to purchase more supplies and you won’t have to totally foot the bill.

It’s also always smart to keep an eye on the great back to school sales that often start up right around this time of year. It’s the good old more bang for your buck when stores are offering these amazing deals. Often, stores that say items are limited to a certain quantity will bend their rules if you simply tell them you are a teacher.  Staples has always been good to me in that department. Most stores will be happy to help you out when you tell them you are purchasing these items for your classroom.  Some may even cut you a better deal – it never hurts to ask! Many places will even price match other stores that are offering something for a better price.

Strike when it's hot! Get the good deals starting now! Back to school sales are happening now through August.
Strike when it’s hot! Get the good deals starting now! Back to school sales are happening now through August.

Speaking of asking, don’t be afraid to ask other teachers at your school or within your school district for items that you may need. I’ve had great luck putting out an all-staff email asking for something.  Chances are someone in your building will not only have some extras of whatever you need, they will be totally willing to give it to you.  Sometimes you can even orchestrate a swap of items, or you can be sure to somehow repay them for their generosity.  Honestly, a nice little thank you card or some baked goods can suffice as repayment.  If other teachers within the building don’t have what you need, don’t be afraid to ask your admin. Your admin knows how hard you work, and most will do whatever they can to help you do your best work in the classroom. They won’t know that you are in need of something unless you ask.

Another teacher in my school district sent me this huge box full of goodies! She also sent a really sweet picture of her and her students with a lovely note. Yes, I cried!
Another teacher in my school district sent me this huge box full of goodies! She also sent a really sweet picture of her and her students with a lovely note. Yes, I cried because her generosity!

Another idea for classroom fundraising could include holding a school supply drive before school starts.  Even gently used supplies are a big hit in my classroom.  When I asked on Facebook for help, I had lots of former students who are now in college and have accumulated mass quantities of pencils, pens, slightly used notebooks, and other coveted classroom goodies, and they were more than happy to donate these items. I’ve also seen some good cheap supplies at garage sales and on some local online Facebook garage sale groups. Garage sales, thrift shops, and flea markets are also great resources for my classroom library too. Once again, if you play your teacher card, many will give you the goods at a reduced rate. Some other online considerations include starting a GoFundMe campaign or check out DonorsChoose for possible classroom funding.

Garage sales, thrift shops, and flea markets are prime places to pick up cheap books for your classroom library.
Garage sales, thrift shops, and flea markets are prime places to pick up cheap books for your classroom library.

Although you may not feel comfortable asking for help when it comes to your classroom needs, put your pride aside and let others know what they can do to help.  You may just be surprised how willing others are to make your job a little easier.  Obviously, this list doesn’t cover all of the ways you can help yourself as a teacher with a classroom budget deficit, so tell me, what have I missed with this list?  What are some ways you supplement your classroom budget?  Be sure to comment below. Also, make sure to check out this month’s giveaway here on Teacher Sweepers, because it might just help you and your classroom!

Teachers shouldn't have to worry about supplies, when we have all of this grading to do!
Teachers shouldn’t have to worry about supplies, when we have all of this grading to do!

 

 

Donation Letters Have Been Sent!

Unless and until I get this whole Teacher Sweepers idea off the ground (and I truly believe it will take off), I am going to rely on the kindness of others to help make this little dream of mine come true!  This past week, I was busy drafting a letter to possible donors who might be interested in helping Teacher Sweepers with donations, prizes, gift cards… you name it, I’ll take it!

Now, as previously mentioned here on another Teacher Sweeper’s post, the whole idea is to offer at LEAST a monthly giveaway to my fellow teachers.  If Teacher Sweepers can start earning some extra income from this blog/website, then that money will be recycled into bigger and better prizes for teachers (yay)!  So, I figured I will need TWELVE prizes to start with to make the monthly giveaway happen.  Technically, I only need eleven, because I’m sponsoring the first giveaway.  (If you haven’t entered yet to win the $25.00 Amazon gift card, what are you waiting for – do it! You have until July 31, 2016.)

Since twelve was my magic number, I took some time to really think about what companies I should ask about possibly donating to this worthy cause.  I even asked on my personal Facebook page where most people like to get their school supplies.  Several of my friends immediately chastised me for even speaking of school supplies when it isn’t even quite the middle of July yet… But, it’s for a good cause…

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I carefully drafted my top twelve list; then I got started looking up addresses of corporate headquarters so I could mail out the letters.  I know I could just simply email the companies, but I guess I am old-fashioned and prefer to write a letter and sign my name to it.  Emailing through a “Contact Us” link or form just seems too impersonal, plus it seems like a random customer service representative probably won’t be my target audience.  I was so excited to get these letters out in the mail that I drove to our local grocery stores to buy stamps before they closed, and then swung by the official post office mailboxes to make sure the letters would go out bright and early this morning.  And now, we wait…

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Pre-postage phase of the donation solicitation letters. They’ve all been sent out now!

I honestly have no idea what to expect!  I don’t know if companies will buy into my idea of helping other teachers, and if they do, will they be willing to donate?  In a perfect world, all twelve of these companies will gladly donate, this blog will explode in popularity on the web and will start generating some massive income so we can give bigger and better prizes, there will be so many donations coming in from all kinds of sources I won’t know what to do with them all, and every teacher will never have to find a way to supplement their classroom inventory because we will all have enough in our classrooms.  Yeah, right!  Oh how I wish that none of us would ever have to ask for the essential items we so desperately need for our classrooms!  We all can agree how amazing that would be, but… sigh… we all know we have to get creative in how we make ends meet for our students and classrooms.

I won’t bore you with the details of the letter, but I will say I am definitely glad that I teach rhetoric and know how to employ ethos, pathos, and logos into my inquiry.  I may or may have not pulled on the heart strings of possible donors by asking them to think about an educator who has made a lasting impact on them and then to donate in their honor.  We shall see if my rhetorical skills are up to snuff.  If you see an excited post soon about an official donation, you will know that my rhetorical skills are good to go!  Speaking of donating in someone’s honor, I am very seriously considering starting this somehow.  Wouldn’t that be great for people to be able to simultaneously honor an educator who has made a difference in their life and also donate to a teacher in need?  (That’s a rhetorical question… ha!) I’m still trying to think about what that would look like and how that would work, so stay tuned!

I will tell you that I started out with mostly big box stores and big corporations that would be able to provide classroom goods and supplies. But, I plan to venture out into other donations once we get past the back to school season.  I’m thinking restaurant gift cards, clothing stores, beauty supplies, etc. would make a wonderful addition to our sweepstakes and giveaways.  After all, teachers need some TLC and pampering too.  We often neglect ourselves so that we may put others first.  Teacher Sweepers wants you to relax, unwind, and spoil yourself for once!  So tell us – what types of giveaways would you like to see here on Teacher Sweepers for the upcoming months?  Your wish is our command… Comment below!

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What do you wish you had as a teacher? Let us know by commenting below!

 

Top Ten Ways for Teachers to Make Money During Summer Break

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You’ll make more than this if you follow some of the suggestions on this list – I promise!

If you are like me, you enjoy some nice relaxation over the summer.  I love having extra free time and down time over the summer, but I have to admit, I also enjoy making some extra money with my down time!  Many of the teachers I know use a portion of their beloved summer time to make a little extra income.  The great part of it is, it’s on your terms – you can work as little or as much as you want, and you can even get a little creative as to how you can make that money.

Today’s post will be a list and a brief explanation about some different ways you can make some extra income this summer.  Trust me, it’s easier than you may think, and it can even be a lot of fun and quite rewarding, and you may even makes some extra money to spend on your classroom.  Let’s take a look at the top ten ways teachers can make some extra money this summer.  Who knows, you might even like it so much you can do it throughout the school year or on the weekends too.

  1. Start your own business – As daunting and time-consuming as this may sound, it really doesn’t have to be.  I know several teachers who have summertime only businesses that run only during the summer months.  Maybe you want to start up a boat or jet ski rental, a cleaning service, or even a lawn service.  These types of businesses can be lucrative in the summer months, and you get to set your own hours. If you live in a tourist-heavy town like I do, you can really make some serious cash catering to the needs of wealthy out-of-town visitors, so a boat or jet ski rental could be your ticket to some easy money this summer.

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    Consider renting out something that tourists would pay top dollar to use.
  2. Babysit or nanny – Now depending on what age level you work with during the school year, you may or may not want to do this.  Sometimes, you need a break from being around kids in general (especially if the kids are close in age to the students you teach during the school year), but babysitting or being a summertime nanny can generate some serious income.

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    Babysitting and nannying can help you earn some extra summer cash.
  3. Dog/Cat/Pet sitting – If you prefer to take a break from children, consider spending some time pet-sitting for some cute little four-legged friends over the summer!  You could rake in some serious dough!  In bigger cities, you could even run a dog walking business for big bucks.  Plus, if you’re like me, spending time with our furry friends hardly seems like work.

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    You can be paid to let a puppy sleep on your hand? Sign me up!
  4. House sitting – Many people take vacations over the summer.  Offer to watch their house for a fee while they feel safe away on vacation knowing their house is in good hands.  Plus, being away from your own home may feel like a mini-vacation for you too!  Bonus! If you are feeling a little more adventurous with your own home, you could also rent out your own place for the summer on airbnb.com.  Several of my teacher friends make some serious cash renting out their homes for the summer.  This allows them to have money to travel while someone else is in their home.  What a great way to have your own travel paid for during your summer break! When I went to New York in June, we stayed at a place we found on airbnb.com and it was a wonderful experience, so I would highly recommend it!

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    Get paid to stay at someone else’s house – it will feel like a vacation for you too! Or consider renting out your own place on airbnb.
  5. Make something crafty and sell it – Summertime is prime time for crafty people to sell their goods. There are lots of festivals and farm markets around my hometown in the summer, and this is a great avenue to peddle your goods.  Some excellent revenue can be made by selling your crafty goodies!  If you don’t necessarily feel like setting up shop outdoors in the blazing hot sun at a craft fair or farm market, consider doing some online selling on sites such as Etsy.

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    Feeling crafty? Summertime is prime time for craft fairs.
  6. Tutoring – Many parents are willing to pay top dollar to teachers who will work with their children over the summer.  Research the going rates of other teacher tutors in your area and start reaching out to possible clientele such as parents or your friends with children around the age you want to cater to as a tutor.  Word of mouth can be your friend in this situation; once other parents hear that you are offering your services as a certified teacher tutor, your little side business could really take off for the summer.  A bonus with tutoring, sessions usually only last an hour or two, so you will make great money in small intervals, leaving plenty of time for some quality pool or beach time!  If you don’t feel like doing the start up and legwork of creating your own tutoring business, check into something like a Sylvan Learning Center, or some other professional tutoring institutions. over the summer!  You could use your teaching skills to make some fast cash.

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    Tutor a couple of hours a day and then spend the rest of your time here!
  7. Sell some goods online – Gather up some of those clothes or other items that have been sitting in your closet or around your house for way too long, and head over to eBay!  Getting on to eBay as a seller has never been easier. You can sell just about anything on there, and free up some space in your home (and get rid of clutter that may have accumulated over the school year) all while making some extra money! Don’t feel like committing to becoming a seller on eBay?  Have a good old-fashioned garage sale and sell your goods that way or take your goods to a consignment shop if you don’t feel like organizing your own sale.

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    Time to get rid of the junk – and get paid for it!
  8. Become a secret shopper – Now more than ever there are many companies seeking individuals to shop their establishments and provide valuable feedback to them about their employees and your experience.  Getting started is just a quick internet search away, but do a little research and make sure you are signing up with a reputable company.  Many companies will pay you to dine out and then simply answer some questions about your experience.  Dinner on them for filling out a survey? That’s a win, win!

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    Dine out on someone else’s dime? Sign me up now!
  9. Write test questions – If you want to keep sharp over the summer with your test-writing skills, many companies are happy to hire teachers to do what they know best – write test questions! One company that is constantly looking for exceptional educators to help write their study guides (for all subjects) is the company albert.io.  You can also find work doing ACT prep classes for companies such as Princeton Review or other reputable test prep companies.  Many of these places pay top dollar for educators to implement their products in classes that you proctor.

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    Do what you already do best – write some test questions or proctor some ACT prep.
  10. Search for local jobs – there are some really great sources to check for local jobs online.  One of my favorite online sources for job searching is glassdoor.com.  They have a great setup on this website to give you an idea about how others feel (and what they generally make) that are currently with that employer.  There are some really great job opportunities that are summer only positions that are advertised on these type of sites.  I recently found a really cool job that paid me $40 for about an hour’s worth of work.  It was through an app called TRUPIC, which was super easy to install and use.  I just simply took some audit photos of some parking lot landscaping and submitted my impressions about the place, and boom – I made an easy $40!

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    Take some time to look for some local businesses hiring for summer positions.

So, there you have it, ten great ways to enhance your income this summer while you are on summer break.  If you do choose to work this summer, just make sure to take some time to rest and relax, because as teachers, we sure do need that down time. Be sure to soak up some sun too, because before you know it, we will be praying for a snow day in no time!

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Make sure to enjoy some of this…
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Before this hits!

Our very first giveaway!

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One of my favorite parts of summer – having no idea what day it is!

As you can probably see with this blog, I’m completely a newbie when it comes to this whole blogging adventure!  But, I am just so freaking excited about this whole teachers sweepstakes idea, that I have to get started with a giveaway.  So, because I haven’t had time to solicit companies or people for donations, I am going to foot the bill for the first giveaway.  Now, as a teacher, we all know that we don’t do what we do for the money.  As a matter of fact, this summer, I have two part-time jobs (mostly just to keep me out of trouble… but also for extra income).  That being said, I hope you will appreciate that although the first giveaway will be small, it is coming directly from me.

Without further ado, the first giveaway will be something that I know I personally would love to receive!  Since I think it will be easier to just send out a gift card (initially I am going to be footing the bill for a lot of the start up costs – including shipping of the prizes, so I figured I could pop a gift card in the mail easier than other bulky items) I am going with an Amazon gift card for our first winner.  This gift card will be for $25.00. Not a lot, I know – but enough for sure to get something nice for your classroom, or maybe just pamper yourself a little!

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How would you spend a $25 Amazon gift card?

So, how do you win?  First of all, you must currently be a teacher, or entering into the teaching profession this fall.  I will require some sort of verification of this, just to weed out anyone who is just entering the giveaway out of greed or whatever other motivations someone may have. Please be prepared to somehow prove to me that you are indeed currently a teacher.  This could be emailing me from your school email, snapping a pic of your teacher ID, or somehow otherwise proving to me you are a teacher.  Sorry I have to do that, but I want to be very sure this goes to one of my fellow educators.

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Yes! Summertime, and the living is easy!

Secondly, all you need to do is comment on this post.  Tell me what you would do with your $25.00 Amazon card.  Again, it can be for your classroom or for yourself.  We all know a little pampering of ourselves can be a very good thing, especially as we recharge our teacher batteries over summer break.

This contest will start today, July 5th, 2016, and will run until the last day of this month, July 31st, 2016.  The winner will be selected randomly, so although it doesn’t matter what you comment on the blog, you can still be creative and honest with your responses!  The winner will be emailed on August 1st, 2016, and will have a week to claim their prize.  If the winner does not respond, a new winner will be selected.  Hopefully next month, we will have sponsors and donations for our August giveaway – which will make it bigger, better, and more awesome!  Obviously, you don’t need to purchase anything (I’m not selling anything anyway…), and you can’t up your chances of winning by commenting multiple times – so please, one entry per person.

However, I would love for you to do me a favor. What can you do to help? Share this website with your teacher friends! Actually, share it with anyone who might like to just read the blog posts! The more traffic that visits this blog, the more income we can generate from ads and what not on here, then I can give away more useful and epic prizes to my fellow educators.  Good luck – I look forward to reading your comments!

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If you need me, this is where I’ll be! Yes, this is actually where I live!

How Teacher Sweepers came to be

When you are a teacher, you do not just jump into unfamiliar territory without doing gobs of research.  This is especially true when you are an English teacher who teaches the ins and outs of research to freshmen year after year.  So, before I decided to jump into the world of blogging, I read as many articles as I could, found as many pins on Pinterest as I could, and looked at as many examples as I could.  Thank goodness we are on summer break, because it was time-consuming, but completely informative, eye-opening, and even entertaining.

The one consistent piece of advice about starting a blog was two-fold.  Over and over I read you should write about what you know and write about something you are passionate about so the content will be rich, engaging, and entertaining.  So, I took this advice to heart and mulled over some options.  Being an English teacher, I decided to brainstorm a list about what I am most passionate about and what I could possibly sustain as a blog topic.  In no particular order, here were my options:

  1. Teaching
  2. Dogs
  3. The Golden Girls
  4. Investigation Discovery crime shows
  5. Entering sweepstakes
  6. Pinterest
  7. Tennis
  8. Finding humor in everyday life
  9. Tacos
  10. Speaking sarcasm fluently

After I created the list, I mulled it over for a few days, hemming and hawing about what I should or should not choose as topics; and then it happened.  I had a moment of genius (I hope) and decided to combine two of my options from the above list.  Now before I tell you what I combined from the above list, I feel like I should give you a little background on why I chose these two subjects.

I have been an English teacher for seventeen glorious years.  That hardly seems possible on many levels.  It truly doesn’t feel like it has been that long, and clearly, I am aging beautifully so I don’t look like I could possibly have taught for that long.  Yes, that’s sarcasm – and no, that is not exactly what I will be featuring on this blog, but you bet it will have a special place here!  I have spent the majority of my teaching career in the presence of ninth graders.  While this may cause some of you to cringe, I can’t imagine spending my time teaching any other way.  Is it a difficult age?  Yes!  Is it completely hilarious, exhausting, and yet somehow amazingly rewarding?  Heck yes!  So, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, this blog will be featuring the quips and experiences of a veteran high school English teacher.

But wait, there’s more!  As if that wasn’t enough, there is a second component to this blog that will be as equally exciting!  Hard to imagine, I know.  The second feature of my blog is a result of a guilty pleasure of mine.  As silly as it may sound, I have recently become a bit of a sweepstakes junky.  It all started innocently enough.  I heard about a contest on the radio and decided to check it out for some reason.  I’ve never felt as though I was particularly “lucky” or prone to winning when it comes to contests or sweepstakes, but for some reason I felt drawn to this one.  The grand prize was a vehicle, and I thought it would be amazing to magically win this “free” vehicle (spoiler alert – when you win big prizes like that, you pay a hefty tax… so it’s not exactly free.  Although, I would be more than willing to pay that tax!)  Well, I played that sweepstakes faithfully for that vehicle.  I entered daily, I made wishes, I had fantasies about how awesome I would look in that SUV; and then it happened.  I didn’t win it.  Now, one thing about playing sweepstakes is that the odds are not in your favor.  All of the major sweepstakes and contests have incredibly high entry rates from fools like me just fantasizing our lives away about possibly winning the big one.  The great part about entering sweepstakes is that unlike playing the lotto or gambling with actual real money, you are not investing anything other than your time to fill out the entry form.  So, after I didn’t win the SUV, I ended up stumbling on a great website called ilovegiveaways.com.  This little website has become my little nightly addiction.  Do I win a lot?  No.  Have I won anything yet?  Yes!

My first win came from the website toofab.com.  I ended up winning a super cute little leather purse that charges your phone.  I was so excited when I received the email stating I was the winner!  I honestly couldn’t believe that I was the winner.  But I was, and I have that cute little purse, and I love it.  My next win came when I was playing an instant win game from a sweepstakes via retailmenot.com.  I ended up being an instant winner for an Amazon gift card!  Super awesome!  It wasn’t for a large amount, but I was super grateful and excited for the win!  I was able to purchase a little fun something for myself that I wouldn’t normally splurge on, so I was thrilled.

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Fast forward to a couple of months later when I was sitting in my office at school on lunch.  Let me explain something.  At our school, we have a classroom and an office.  Our office houses two teams of teachers.  We are the ninth and tenth grade team of teachers (we are one of three teams – we have a big school).  I may be biased, but we are an awesome group of teachers!  Our office serves as our lunchroom, our copy room, and is basically like a teacher’s lounge for us.  So as I sat in our office, I happened to open my personal email program to reveal something that caught my eye.  In all caps, the subject line read, “CONGRATULATIONS ON BEHALF OF FIJI WATER.” Now, I vaguely remembered entering some sweepstakes having to do with Fiji water, so I figured I may have won a six pack of Fiji water or something like that… but I was wrong.  Apparently I was the Grand Prize winner of a promotion they were running called Earth’s Finest Staycation.  Long story short, I recently returned from a perfectly lovely trip to New York! (I’ll dedicate an entire blog entry to my New York shenanigans in the very near future.)  Thank you Fiji water!  It really was an amazing experience!

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So, if you haven’t figured out what I am combining here for my first adventure into blogland, here’s a hint – I am creating an awesome blog about teaching/education, and I am offering little giveaways/sweepstakes created specifically for teachers!  I decided on the name teachersweepers.com because in the crazy land of playing sweepstakes and entering contests, participants are known as sweepers.  I am going to limit the playing field of these giveaways to only teachers, so teacher sweepers will be the new moniker for those of you able and willing to participate in this new blog adventure of mine.  I will also admit that the name teacher sweepers can also be misread as teachers weepers which gave me a giggle – because if you haven’t cried as a teacher, are you even human?

So, what will this blog look like?  Well… that’s a great question!  It’s also a question that I can’t exactly answer just yet.  To start off with, I will commit to at least one blog post per week here about teaching/education.  I will also commit to one monthly giveaway/sweepstakes to start off with until this whole concept hopefully takes off like wildfire.  If this idea really catches on, I would love to do weekly giveaways!  Now, I will be honest – I will totally accept donations for these giveaways.  As a matter of fact, I will solicit various companies and organizations to hopefully donate to this worthy cause.  I will also be more than happy to promote products, allow advertisers to sell their goods via ads on this blog, and do whatever else I can to increase traffic here to be able to give away bigger and better items.  Remember when Oprah invited all those teachers to be audience members and then surprised them all with goodies valued at about $15,000 per person!  Oprah said, “You give, and give, and that is why I wanted to give you the hottest ticket in television,” as she displayed the generous prize packages for the audience members, who began yelling and wildly jumping up and down.  Now, I can’t promise that kind of awesomeness (yet!), but on a smaller scale, I hope you will at least have a smile if you are a winner of one of the giveaways here.  Oprah is right, as educators, we give and give… and often we dig and dig into our own pockets for the simplest classroom supplies due to dwindling budgets, cutbacks, and our needs outweighing our means for provision.  So, if I can pay it forward and make another teacher’s load a little lighter by providing a little joy from winning something to make teaching a tiny bit easier, then that is reward enough for me!