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Teaching across the USA… and beyond! - interview & linky - Alison from Illinois

Here I am with a new interview in my series Teaching Across the USA.

My guest is Alison, but you might know her as Ms. Lilypad. Even though she's originally from Indiana (as you will read in the interview), she's here to represent Illinois in my quest to interview teacher-author-bloggers from all 50 American states.

Clipart: Stacey Lloyd and Sonya DeHart Design

1. Were you born in Illinois? What is it about Illinois that you love the most?

I was born next door in Indiana, and I've actually moved ten times in my life! I've lived in 4 different states - Illinois, Indiana, South Carolina, and Georgia. What I love most about Illinois is the people - I have lots of friends here. I definitely don't love the winters, though!

A pond in Alison's neighborhood - she's lucky to be able to walk out of her yard and onto a trail where loves to run!

2. I know you're a bilingual reading specialist. Why Spanish?

I sure am! I sort of fell into teaching in Spanish. I learned some Spanish from my mom, growing up, and then continued to study it in high school. My parents encouraged me to continue studying it in college, and I was sort of reluctant because the coursework was a lot of history and literature. At the time, it didn't seem very relevant to teaching elementary school. But I'm really glad I've kept up with it, because being bilingual endorsed has been super helpful in getting jobs.

There's a big demand for bilingual teachers in the area where I lived, and before I was a reading specialist, I was a bilingual and dual language classroom teacher. I love teaching in Spanish and working with the Spanish-speaking community!

3. Can you tell us a bit about your TpT/blogging journey?

When I was getting my master's degree, I lived relatively far away from the university and used to get to class early (to avoid being late). One day during the summer, I was bored waiting for class to start and ended up stumbling upon the TeachersPayTeachers website. I started searching for and bookmarking materials I wanted to purchase, and as I was looking, I thought to myself, "Hey, I bet I could make that!" 

When I got home that day, I started experimenting by making some simple schedule cards and other materials I knew I'd need in my classroom for the upcoming school year. I opened a seller's account under the name "Ms. Lilypad" (at the time, I had a frog-themed classroom and had a 1:1 iPad classroom...get it...Ms. LilyPAD?!). As I started to learn about other sellers on the site, I realized that there was this whole world of selling and blogging that I had previously known nothing about! I started getting so many new ideas for my classroom, and I also started a blog to share my ideas. I had always loved visiting other teachers' classrooms and sharing ideas, and reading blogs/blogging became a great way for me to fit that into my busy schedule.

Alison's gazebo - nice place to work when the weather is nice!

Even before I started selling on TpT, I always loved creating curriculum - particularly writing lesson plans and integrated thematic units. I've been selling and blogging for about 2 years now, and it's so exciting to be able to share my units with other teachers. My yearlong Kindergarten writing curriculum is my best seller, and I also have writing curricula for 1st and 2nd grade. I now work part-time as a reading specialist and spend my mornings creating curriculum materials. I love that my schedule allows me time to write and time to work with kids! 

4. Through your blog posts, one can see that you love teaching reading and writing. Were you the kind of kid who would be reading books to your dolls? Have you always known you'd be a teacher?
I do love teaching literacy! But I did not always know that I wanted to be a teacher, and I don't even think I played "school" as a child! I have always loved reading and I would bring home stacks and stacks of books from the library every couple of weeks, and was known for reading with a flashlight long after bedtime. I also grew up on a street where the only other children were younger than me, and I really enjoyed playing with them and babysitting them. In high school, my math teacher encouraged me to pursue a career in teaching, and I am so glad that she did!

5. If you had to move to another US state, where would you like to live? Why?

I would love to live in North Carolina. I love the southern weather, the mountains, and the beach. Maybe I'll move there someday, but for now, I'm happy to be in Illinois with the people I love!

Alison's fur babies: Lindsay is keeping Max in line!

Thank you so much, Alison, for being my guest! Now, go check out Alison's Pinterest profile and Instagram's pictures, like her FB page, and follow her blog!

READ: Teaching Across the USA: Heather from Virginia

And if you're teaching in America, be sure to link up! Not in America? No problem! If you're a teacher-blogger, you're welcome, too!

Grab the image below and complete the sentence. Blog about it and come link up. Be sure to comment on the posts before your own (at least two).

Thank you all for reading and linking! Come back next month for a new interview and linky!