Saturday, October 15, 2011

Featured Teacher: Heidi Raki

How long have you been on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you decide to be a part of it?
I have been on TPT for 3 years - in October.  I remember the month because that is the month my mom got diagnosed with lung cancer.  I took a leave of absence to take care of here and was looking for extra income to make it possible, so I Googled and found TPT.  I posted 3 items that day.  The next day mom had seizures and went to ICU for a week.  She died 5 days later.  Needless to say I forgot about TPT.  About 2 months later, I got an email saying I had made 50 cents.  I though, hmmmmm, and posted some more.  The next quarter I made $30.  I have steadily gained since and started blogging this summer at  I have seen a spike in my sales and should make enough to pay for my grandma's ticket to visit us in Morocco this Christmas.

When did you know that you wanted to be in education?
I knew I wanted to be a teacher in 10th grade.  I started doing volunteer work at a preschool for special needs students.  I loved it and decided it was what I wanted to do forever.

How are you currently involved in education?
I teach 1st grade at the American Academy of Casablanca.  I have 19 students - 3 of which are native English speakers.  All of the rest of my students speak French and/or Arabic at home with their parents and friends (and on the street and on tv), so they are truly EFL students - they are learning English as a Foreign Language.  I teach in English all day, and they are making a lot of growth, even in a short time.

What would be your advice to people who are considering joining Teachers Pay Teachers?
Teachers Pay Teachers is a great way to take what you would do anyway and make a little extra cash from it.  I take items that I make from my classroom and "format" them; then I put them on Teachers Pay Teachers.  It is very rare that anything in my store is not used in my classroom (except maybe some of my husband's clipart - although those make super cute calendar number cards).  So, my best advice is to sell the quality items you use in your classroom.  Don't worry so much about it being cute (although fonts and cliparts help to sell - they are part of my "formatting") - if you have a quality product, people will buy and come back for more.
What has been a highlight, thus far, about being on Teachers Pay Teachers?
Getting those emails that say "Product Sold" is probably the highlight for me of being on TPT.  Even if I made 50 cents - it still makes me smile at the end of a rough day.

What is something fun about you that other teachers don’t know?
I am a big fan of yoga.  I don't always get to do it each morning, but it's a great way to start the day.  I've even starting using kid's yoga with my students!

Do you participate in education outside of the classroom?  In what type of role?
The only way I participate in education outside of the classroom is as a parent.  I have 3 boys that I work with on a regular basis.  Now that we are in Morocco, I do a kind of "homeschool" with them to maintain their English skills, while they go to school in French and Arabic.  I would love to be involved in political groups that are involved in education, but can never find the time to squeeze it in to my schedule with teaching all day and being mommy all night.

What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I never want to stop teaching.  However, I talk all the time about opening my own school some day.  Right now, my only goal is to teach in many different levels, positions and schools, so that I can have a lot of experience and know-how before I decide to buckle down and open that school.  :)

What profession would you not like to do?
Medicine.  My husband is training to practice medicine, and he sees sick kids (like really sick with AIDS and Cancer) all day - I couldn't do it.

Who is your favorite author?  Favorite educational author?  And why?
My favorite author for me (pleasure reading) is John Grisham.  My favorite author(s) for kids are Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein and Mary Pope Osborne.  I love reading kid's books and it's hard to pick just one.  Both of my older sons (aged 4 & 7) are obsessed with the Magic Tree House books though, and they are so well written that I enjoy reading them too - so Mary Pope Osborne would have to be the family favorite.

By Heidi Raki

Reading comprehension is such an important skill.  I am a big fan of the book Strategies that Work and I developed this reading journal to help me teach them.  It allows me to see what the kids are thinking while they are listening and compare it to what they are thinking while they are reading independently.

With a class of EFL students, graphics are VERY important - so these word wall cards that I created are crucial.  I hate to tell my kids pan and fan are in the an family, but they don't know what a pan or a fan is!

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