The instructor does extra from her aspect than from educating

Ten years ago, Megan Mitchell was a single mom of triplets in kindergarten, living from paycheck to paycheck. With debt increasing and no relief in sight, she turned to one of the few things she was certain of – teaching.

She had worked as a teacher in Sylvania, Ohio for several years and always took pride in creating her own materials and resources. So Megan decided to post some of her products on Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) to see if someone would buy them.

It started slowly, but Megan appreciated the flexibility she had to create and sell her own resources. As a busy mother and teacher, finding time to create wasn’t easy, but she was hardworking and dedicated. She liked having the fate of the sideline in her own hands.

A year later, Megan married a fellow teacher who also had three children. Soon after, they had a little girl, Charlie, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Megan is a family of nine with growing costs and needs. She doubled her TPT shop to keep it growing and earning.

Little by little, they paid off debts, their home, car loans, and even set some aside for family vacations. WeAreTeachers chatted with Megan about how she went from being a indebted single mom to a sideline that exceeded her teaching salary. She shares her story and some tips below.

WeAreTeachers: How did you decide what your first products would be?

MM: It was February when I opened my store and the first resource I published was about dental health as it was National Children’s Dental Health Month. It was something I would use in my own classroom so I figured others could use it too.

WeAreTeachers: Is the first product still available?

MM: There have been three or four revisions, but yes. It’s still there.

WeAreTeachers: How do you decide which materials should be created?

MM: First and foremost, I create materials for my children (students) and my classroom. It encourages me to teach more creatively and develop a curriculum that is really engaging. It also helps me channel my creativity. I’m not a big TV viewer and I have ADHD. So it’s good for me to always have something to do and to be busy with my hands.

WeAreTeachers: Do Your Students Ever Decide What You Create?

MM: All the time. You never know what your students are going to get into, and I really enjoy creating materials they love. Years ago I had a little guy who was very interested in learning about different countries and continents which resulted in a lot of fun things. And a lot of my animal curriculum comes from boys who wanted this content. I’m doing something and I can’t wait to use it in the classroom.

WeAreTeachers: How did you use the extra income?

MM: First we used it to pay off the debts I had. Then we slowly used the income to repair our house. Then we bought a new house and redesigned it. We ended up going on one family trip a year and even got the whole family on a cruise. We are actually debt free right now.

WeAreTeachers: It sounds like you put a lot of money into family needs, but please tell us that you had at least one splendor to yourself.

MM: Yeah. You actually watch it (she points behind her in the video interview). This is my luxury room. I wanted a children’s library and now I have it. I have big plans for neighborhood kids to come and read all summer if COVID just went away. Charlie and I enjoy reading there too! Someday it will be great for grandchildren.

WeAreTeachers: Given your success, why are you still in the classroom?

MM: I love teaching. I absolutely love it. First class in particular is my favorite – your curiosity! Your brain is like little sponges. You can say big words and teach them things they would not remember. They really love to learn and are open to anything.

WeAreTeachers: Do you spend a lot of hours in this sideline?

MM: Often people don’t realize how much time is spent creating such materials. It has really become a full time job for me.

WeAreTeachers: How Can You Find Time To Do Everything?

MM: You just have to find the hours. In the past, I woke up at 5 a.m. to work in front of school. Then I would work a little every evening. I also worked on weekends, sometimes eight hours on Saturday and Sunday. Obviously, family comes first for me. I take my kids where they need to be and cook dinner. But it takes commitment to spend your free time this way.

WeAreTeachers: Does your spouse support?

MM: Yes! My husband even opened a shop – he teaches math in middle school. And we got up early together to work on our curriculum and business.

WeAreTeachers: Not everyone loves teachers who pay teachers, and they want all resources to be free. What do you think about it?

MM: I think it’s amazing that we as teachers have TPT as an option. As a 23 year old teacher, I feel qualified to write classroom materials and I support teachers who do the same. I know what my children need and it’s worth it for me to be able to do it. Also, people really don’t realize all of the time, energy, and money that we all put into our stores. It is much work. I am happy to support other teachers in this way. We all know teachers don’t get paid a lot and I think it’s great that this is an option.

WeAreTeachers: What advice do you have if someone tries to break into TPT or create a good opportunity for sideline activity?

MM: I feel lucky when I started TPT. I know that opening and building a business can be a lot harder these days. But for anyone who wants to do something like this, you really have to invest time and work. It is not easy and the money not only flows in, but it is possible.

Megan’s store at Teachers Pay Teachers is called First Grade Roars.

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