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Teaching across the USA… and beyond! - interview & linky - Kelsea from Michigan

My second TpT-versary is in March. I can't believe two years have gone by. I still remember how excited I felt at discovering this whole new world. I also remember every single person who has been (or not) nice, helpful, and/or friendly to me. Some of them might not even know that they helped me along the way, but they did. And I remember.

I'm always thinking of ways to return their kindness. That might take the shape of pinning their products onto high-traffic boards, linking to one of their freebies in my newsletter, "liking" their FB posts, alerting to typos in their product titles, and many more ways - small or big.

My two series of interviews, Teaching Across the USA and Teacher-Authors Around the World, make for another way of shining a light on some of the friends I've made so far on this journey.

Today, my guest is Kelsea from Michigan. She's the teacher-author of Teacher Gems.

1. Were you born in Michigan? How do you like it there?

Yes! I was born and raised in West Michigan. The state of Michigan is shaped like a mitten so if you go half way down the palm of the mitten under the pinky finger you will find where I live. I lived in the same house all of my life (except for when I was in the college dorms) until I got married. However, I love to travel and have been to 46 or more of the 50 states as well as a few other countries.

I love that in Michigan you get to experience all of the different seasons! My favorite season is summer because I love the sunshine! We also have beautiful beaches with sand dunes surrounding the Great Lakes and over 11,000 inland lakes to enjoy! The fall season is also beautiful with the colorful trees and fun trips to the apple orchards. Winter is cold, but beautiful with the snow covered trees. Michigan kids love to make snowmen and snow forts, to go sledding, skiing or snowmobiling. The Michigan winters can be pretty harsh so many of our older citizens move to Florida for the winter months. We call them snow birds because they fly south in the winter! I’m actually writing this from Florida right now (although I am not that old ☺)!

2) Does Michigan have any influence over the resources you create?

I do not have too many products in my store that are Michigan influenced although I used to teach Michigan History to my fourth graders. I have a few ideas for products so I may be adding them in the future. A few products I have now that are influenced by Michigan are my bingo games. These include my back to school bingo game about summer activities and a winter fun bingo game with winter/snow activities.

3) I know that you're a champion for inclusion and differentiation in education. Tell us more about it.

I believe that all students bear the image of God and have their own unique strengths and weaknesses. I had the privilege of working with and learning from some pretty influential people in the field of inclusion. I did my student teaching under Barbara Newman of the CLC Network and author of many books on the topic including, “Helping Kids Include Kids with Disabilities.” The school I student taught at was one of the first schools to start inclusion. It was awesome to see how the students worked and played together even with such differing levels of abilities. They even had people from around the world who would come to observe the program because of its success.

FREE Disability Awareness Students Booklet
FREE Disability Awareness Booklet

I think it is important for students to learn about other students with disabilities at a young age so they do not develop any unnecessary fears. Even if your school doesn’t have many or any students with disabilities you can still teach your students about them. I taught general education 4th grade (in addition to sp. ed. preK-8th) at a small Christian school that only had a handful of students with disabilities. However, down the road from our school was another school for students with disabilities (mostly cognitive and physical impairments). My 4th grade class became buddies with a class at this school. We would go and visit their school once a year and they would come and visit our school. We also did outings with them like bowling, skating and other field trips. We would put on a band concert for them and a favorite activity was doing PE class with them. My students got to push their new friends’ wheelchairs under the parachute in the gym.

Long Vowels Resource
"I really enjoy creating products with differentiation in mind."

4) You've been homeschooling your kids, haven't you? How's it going so far?

Yes, kind of! ☺ My oldest is only 3 ½ so I really haven’t started any formal training yet but I am amazed at how much she is picking up just by playing with letters, looking at books and counting objects. The other day she said, “Mom, look I drew an A!” She proceeded to write several letters even though I never taught her how. I told my husband this homeschooling thing is a breeze! She is teaching herself. Haha! I am very excited to start a more structure homeschooling time. I love the flexibility of homeschooling and the quality time it allows me to have with my children. I am eager to learn more as I get into it more. All of my siblings are homeschooling their kids too which is fun because we can take field trips together and do other fun things. There are also a lot of homeschooling families in my church which is nice to bounce ideas off each other.

5) What would we be surprised to learn about you?

Let’s see…I am a country girl at heart. I was on my high school’s equestrian team where I raced my horse. We were even state champs one year after only completing two of the three days of competition (because we didn’t want to compete on a Sunday). I hate fruit but love vegetables (I know I’m weird!). Yes, that is ALL fruit! However, I do love fruit snacks (anything with lots of sugar or chocolate)! My husband and I met on a blind date and I was not interested in him. My mom MADE me go on a second date with him where after a stressful week at work I had a laugh attack during dinner at something dumb he said. I guess I must have thought he was funny after that and the rest is history. ☺

Thank you so much, Kelsea, for being my interviewee!

Now, go check out Kelsea's blog Teacher Gems and TpT store Teacher Gems, like her Teacher Gems FB page, and follow her on Pinterest.

Thank you for reading!

P.S. This month the linky is off, but it will be back next month.

READ: Teaching Across the USA: Heather from Virginia


READ: Teaching Across the USA: Alison from Illinois


READ: Teaching Across the USA: Meredith from Massachusetts