Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Teachers behind Double Dose of Learning


      My name is Stephanie Guadagna, and I have been a teacher for the past 7 years at a private agency for special education students in Buffalo, NY, primarily working with students grades 3-5. Learning, creating and teaching others has always been a huge part of who I am, and I have known I wanted to be a teacher my whole life. My biggest passion in the classroom is teaching students to read and exposing them to a whole new world that can be opened up through literacy, especially those students who face additional challenges. I love sharing this passion with other teachers as well, and I am almost finished with receiving a Master’s degree in Educational Administration in hopes of exploring different avenues of school leadership in the future. When I am not teaching students in the classroom, I am an avid home instructor. I work with children ages 0-3 for Early Intervention services within their homes, and also work with a high school student who has autism. My experiences in both home and educational settings have shaped who I am as an educator, and I feel like I try to take a “whole child” and individualized approach to all that I work with.
      One of the greatest struggles that I face is finding time to “do it all” and somehow finding a healthy balance in life…I am working on that every day! When I am not with my students or in front of my computer creating, I love spending time with my family and friends. My husband and I just got married on New Years Eve, and are enjoying our time as newlyweds. I love decorating and updating our home, cooking, and hosting family parties. My 2 rescued fur babies Lola and Buster are also such a big part of our lives! 




      Hi, my name is Kelly Ganzenmuller and I have been a special educator for 9 years in a school for students with special needs in Buffalo, NY. I work with children that have mild to moderate developmental disabilities. I am also a literacy specialist. I love that I can use those strategies that I have learned with students of all abilities to help them become readers. I am very passionate about increasing the rigor for literacy in my classroom. For that reason, I started a Teachers Pay Teachers store two years ago for the purpose of creating novel studies for my students that would allow me to have supplemental materials that were appropriate for my class for the chapter books that we were reading every month. I love my school, the students, and the freedom that we have within the classroom to teach with materials that are meaningful and appropriate for them. But, I have to say, the best thing about my school is that I get to bring my two favorite little boys, my sons, to work with me every day. Our school has a daycare in the building and a phenomenal integrated preschool. Our preschool is so incredible that my husband and I made the tough decision to turn down free Universal Pre-K for the fall with my home district so I could send him to my school for the 4 year old program. My boys, Connor and Finley are everything in the world to me. There has been nothing better in my life than watching my sons turn into best friends over the past year. My husband and I look forward to the weekends in which we enjoy family time. We also love the beach and travel to Florida 2-3 times a year. We may live in Buffalo, but our boys will grow up with many treasured memories of being with their family and their grandparents on the beach. 


      Now that you’ve heard a little about each of our own stories, we are going to tell you about how we came to be teacher besties, un-official co-teachers and now partners in the Teachers Pay Teachers world!
      We both have been working at the same school since the beginning of our teaching careers. Our classrooms are down the hall from each other with students of similar age groups and academic levels. We would exchange resources and  helpful ideas from time to time, but at that time, in our school, you really worked mostly on your own. There was not much collaboration between teachers. The classrooms were quite different from each other and what we did within our own room stayed within our own room with the exception of special events, holidays and field trips. We both had a passion for pushing our special needs students academically. One morning, I remember Stephanie coming into my classroom for something and inadvertently mentioned how fun it would be read Charlotte’s Web with our classes! I had just got my hands on the book and had been planning on reading it to my students! This was the day that forever changed our classroom dynamics, our friendship, the rigor of the literacy within our classroom and both of our lives forever as we embarked on this amazing, fulfilling TPT journey together.
      Immediately, we began staying after school to plan for Charlotte’s Web. We planned that every Friday we would get both of our classes together and read the chapter for that day and then would teach a comprehension strategy with a fun hands-on craftivity each week. At the end of the month, as a celebration for finishing the book, we would order the students (and staff, of course) PIZZA!!!! This monthly tradition with our classrooms is still going strong 3 years later. From there, our collaborative partnership continued to grow, and we realized even more how well we worked together. We wrote curriculum together, participated in the mentoring program together, started the first-ever cheerleading squad at our school together and used all of our planning time to things together that would  benefit both of our classrooms. Over the course of time, we started depending on each other for all things education that also included creating materials, feeding into our office supply obsessions, our need for Starbucks and scented markers.
    For the school year of 2015-2016, the curriculum at our school had us now teaching units at the same time as other classrooms in our grade level for the first time ever. This meant that we had to teach units that we did not have to in the past. There was one unit that was weighing on us that we did not know how we wanted to teach: Continents! We brainstormed ways to make it fun and systematic for our learners and decided to create a unit for our entire grade level. As we started using the materials, our struggling learners became highly engaged and were recalling information learned at a higher rate than ever. We realized that we were really onto something with this resource we created. We decided to open a Teachers Pay Teachers store together and continue creating the units that we saw so much success with for our students. We are tremendously thankful for each other and the opportunities that working together has given us. 
TPT Northeastern Regional Meet-up

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to the blogging world! Looking forward to hearing more from you!

    ReplyDelete