Today’s Featured Teacher: Heather Cacioppo, Teacherpreneur
Heather has been a special education teacher in the Chicagoland area for 7 years. She has a passion for teaching students and recently found a desire to support teachers that are struggling to stay afloat. Through product creation on Teachers Pay Teachers and her influence on social media, Heather strives to help make teachers feel like they are not alone!
How did you select your side hustle?
I had been buying off of Teachers Pay Teachers for many years. And I’ve been following a ton of influencers and people who have been in the forefront for special education resources, um, and general education resources. So I really decided that I wanted to sell off Teachers Pay Teachers just so that I could make materials that were appropriate for my students as well. I found that a lot of the resources I was getting, I was still having to adapt just because special education has its own type of students, and sometimes one thing doesn’t reach all the students. So there were a lot of accommodations that needed to be done. And that’s kinda what I wanted to bring to the table when I started selling on Teachers Pay Teachers.
How do you find time to work on your business while teaching?
So my goal each week, during the work week, obviously I’m teaching a full day of school. But in the evenings I try to do between an hour to three hours a night just because that’s what’s best for me. I know three hours is a lot, but if I’m super motivated to do a blog, or make a product because product creation takes longer than you think it does, then I do that. But like I said, I just tried to do the one to three hours during the week. And then on the weekends, I try to put in six to eight hours depending, so it is like almost a full-time job on the weekend.
But then I also try to dabble in a little bit of everything throughout the week. So I’m not just doing straight product creation all week long. I’m trying to work on my website and I’m trying to work on my social media. And so you’ve got to kind of pick and choose what works for you.
So I see the next month we’re going to start doing measurements, so I’m going to start creating some products for measurement, that will definitely help my students, and I can adapt it to their needs.
I don’t try to do that during my planning periods for work. But obviously I take that time after school. And it’s more fun for me. I don’t think of it as a side hustle. I like to create things for my students and knowing that it goes back to my students, gives me a little bit more joy towards it.
What teaching skill has served you most as a side hustler?
I would say being organized and keeping deadlines. In special education, we have to do a lot of documentation and things are due in certain time periods. So I feel like when I set a goal for myself to finish a product by this weekend or write this blog post in the next week, whatever it is, I feel like I’m better at setting deadlines that way and getting to that deadlines because I’m organized. And I realized time management is a huge part of that too.
If I would’ve known all those things that I have to do behind the scenes before I got started, I think I would have not started because I realized now there’s so much that goes into it. Like I said earlier, my website, my blog, my Teachers Pay Teachers store, the websites that I use for social media… Pinterest, everything that goes into it, there’s just so much.
And there are times that I know that I’ve put things to the side and then, okay. Maybe we’re not working on marketing this week, but next week I gotta get on marketing. Because like you said, everything kind of works together. We need every piece to work. The other to truly run a business.
How has having a business positively impacted your teaching?
It’s helped me be a little bit more forward-thinking because I am trying to make products for my students. I have to know the curriculum to know what’s going next so that I can plan and prepare ahead of time, which in turn again, helps my side hustle. So I think that’s truly, what’s given me more of a curriculum outline to kind of know because special education, you get different students each year, the curriculum can change your kids, students’ abilities can change. A lot of times special education teachers don’t have a true curriculum or a scope and sequence to follow. So we just really have to make sure that I’m looking at my students, what are their needs, what are the things they need to continue to grow on and develop, and then have that forward thinking of what can I create next to help them get there.
What's your favorite thing about having a side hustle?
I think I really enjoy having a creative outlet. I’ve always been the creative type. My dad always used to say that I would spend five minutes on my math homework and 45 minutes on my art homework growing up because I would enjoy the artsy fartsy as he would call it kind of creativity and activities that go into it. So the designing, the clip art, everything that goes into having a Teachers Pay Teachers store, I’ve really been able to find my creative outlet.
So I think that’s really, what’s been nice to me and it’s almost fun for me to step away, even though I’m not stepping away from teaching, but in a way I am, because it is more of a fun it’s on my own time. I don’t have to, if I don’t want to. There’s things that I’ve started and I’ve stopped for a little bit, cause I wasn’t really in the mood for it. So I do like having that freedom to where I can kind of do what I want and if I don’t want to do it, then it doesn’t get done.
And it’s all on me, too. I’m not relying on anybody else.
Links From Today’s Show:
Learn more about becoming a Teacherpreneur and selling your teaching resources here.
It’s hard to start a side hustle if you don’t know what to try. That’s why I created the Just Right Side Hustle Quiz! Answer 6 simple questions to find the hustle you’re best suited for based on your interests, talents, and lifestyle! Take the quiz now.