ButtonMeet Stephanie DeLussey, an Elementary Life Skills Teacher (Grades 1-4) and author of Mrs. D’s Corner, a blog and store at the Teachers Pay Teachers website . She has been creating materials for the TPT store and blogging since 2011. It is our pleasure to feature her on our blog today.

Name of Blog/Topic of Blog: Mrs. D’s Corner

Links to TPT or other store: Mrs. D’s Corner

Favorite part of job: I secretly enjoy all of the paperwork.

Hardest part of job: Not having all of the resources my students need to be successful and hearing “it’s not in the budget.” Thank goodness I am blessed to have the most awesome parents of kids. They truly are amazing!

We asked Stephanie a few questions and we are very happy to share her answers with you:

Q1.Where do you get inspiration for creating activities?

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 9.44.45 AMMy students! Since I don’t have a set curriculum besides the state standards, I am pretty much on my own in terms of finding resources to help adapt the general ed curriculum. So many of the resources in my TPT shop are made out of a necessity for goals and objectives my students are working on.

Q2.What is your favorite item you’ve made with Smarty Symbols?

I love using Smarty Symbols in my adapted books! I have bundles for each month that includes 9 sets of leveled books with comprehension quizzes at the end of each, and Smarty Symbols has helped me find just the right image for each page. It actually saves me money too because then I don’t have to buy a $6 clip art set to use just one image… all I have to do is search the Smarty Symbols database to find an image, save it to my computer and insert. I’m definitely a loyal Smarty Symbols user now!

Q3.What is your favorite item you’ve seen someone else make with Smarty Symbols? 

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 9.46.16 AMAnything by Alyssa at Simply Special Ed. That girl just amazes me. My favorite thing of hers is definitely her cut and paste fine motor sheets. It’s a set of such simple cut and paste activities, but for my students, it’s like gold. Fine motor practice is something I really strive to practice every single day with my students because it’s such an important skill for my students to have for independence.

Q4.How do you see technology being used in new and innovative ways to service the needs of all types of students? Do you think that tools like Facebook where professionals can connect and share ideas has made a big impact on how people interact within the community? 

I was lucky enough to win a grant to purchase 4 iPad minis for my classroom this school year, so now my classroom is a 1:1 classroom. It definitely helps because each student has their own iPad and their own, individualized app set of apps. I can easily put a student at the iPad center and know they’re doing something educational that is directly impacting their goal and objective progress in a positive way. It’s so helpful!

Only in the past year have I really joined in on Facebook groups for teachers and I love it! That is my favorite thing about having joined TPT and started blogging is the collaboration. I have met so many amazing people (in person and online) through blogging and joining groups on social media and it’s definitely helped shape me into a better person and teacher. I know that if I have a question or need a solution to a problem in my classroom, I can reach out to other teachers for help and guidance… and not just teachers in my geographical area. Teachers from all over the world with years and years of combined experience in hundreds of thousands of classrooms. When you think of that impact, it seems unreal. They give perspective you never would have thought of that really help you think outside of the box, so not only does it help me grow as a teacher, but it really helps my students become successful individuals.

I’ve always loved Instagram because I feel like you get to see a more personal side to these teacher authors, and you get to see them as people and not just storefronts. Instagram is actually my favorite and I have a funny story about how I met one of my best blogging friends through IG. My husband and I went to a Dallas Blogger Meetup last October. Outside of the TPT Conference, this was the first blogger meetup that I had ever been to. So we got there and we were doing introductions as more people showed up, and that’s when I met Destiny (from Terrific Teaching and Learning). Out of nowhere she says, “You’re the one with the dogs!” She didn’t know me by a product I made or by my TPT name, she knew me by all of the pictures I shared on IG of my two dogs. Our love of our fur babies connected us immediately and the rest is history. That’s why I love our community!

Q5. What do you feel are some misconceptions about working with special needs students? 

One thing that really bothers me about the perception of my students is that they aren’t smart, or that my nonverbal students just sit around and do nothing all day. Sure, my students might be below grade level according to state testing and benchmarks… but they are all absolutely brilliant in their own ways. I had one student who could tell you everything you would need to know about farming. Seriously, everything. And I have another who can name countless dinosaurs and describe each one in detail. I feel like a lot of people are “afraid” of students with disabilities, but I wish they would just take the time to see them as people too. My students truly are amazing, and so kind hearted and loving and I wouldn’t trade what I do for anything else in the world.

Q6.What programs do you use to create materials (photoshop, powerpoint, keynote, or any other types of editing and presentation software)? 

I started out using Microsoft Word and the struggle was real! I couldn’t get my images to lay correctly and every time I inserted a new text box or image, everything else in the document shifted. It was a hot mess! Thankfully I started using PowerPoint and it has made the creating process so much easier.