Five years ago today, a stranger changed my life.
It was January 2013. Christmas, the first since my mom died of a stroke at 62, was packed away and I was facing a quiet week at home before school started again. I was blue.
A few months earlier, my husband had seen a CNN clip about Deanna Jump, a super-successful TpT seller, and encouraged me to upload some of the lessons he’d seen me working on most nights and weekends of our entire marriage:
“Who’s got time for all that?” I scoffed at the suggestion. On top of teaching full-time, I was tutoring three nights a week and our two kids (a teen and a ‘tween) were still at home. But now, with an open week of rainy afternoons ahead of me and no tutoring clients on the holiday calendar, I thought, What if…?
I went to the site, figured out one-tenth of all of the things I actually needed to know, and uploaded a few items. Within days, I received this email notification:
That was the moment everything changed.
Someone named “mmanduca” bought a handout and rubric that I used to help my juniors find Transcendental philosophies in today’s pop culture. Another teacher out there in cyberland saw what I did and liked it enough to pull out a credit card. I checked the screen, rubbed my eyes, checked again. It was true. I made a sale. I came tearing into the kitchen, jumping up and down. “We made 60 cents! We made 60 cents!!!” My husband laughed and bear-hugged me.
Over the years, the TpT commission structure has changed a bit, but here’s what that first sale looked like:
Records show that “mmanduca” never came back to buy anything else from my shop – and I completely understand why. When I look back at the quality of those early resources, I’m swallowed by embarrassment. I had no idea what I was doing, but I was doing it. And I suppose that’s a good new year’s resolution-ish reminder for us all. If there’s something you want to do, just get started. You’ll figure out the details as you go. Periodically, I still audit my shop and take down or update items that aren’t up to par; like teaching, all of this online stuff is an ongoing process and I never feel “done.”
So, mmanduca, wherever you are, I want to publicly thank you. You helped me believe in myself and realize I could contribute something of value to our profession that reaches beyond the walls of my own classroom. (You’ve also brought untold joy to my husband, who loves to remind me that – as usual – he was right.)
Teach on, everyone.