5 Family Recipes to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

A great, family recipe, handed down through generations, is such an integral part of the holiday season for so many. We asked some of the fine folks at Teach For America to share some of their favorite family food traditions. Enjoy their heartwarming stories and recipes below.

Mexican Atole recipe

Black Bean Salsa family recipe


Granny's Sweet Potato Pie family recipe

Matzoh Brei family recipe

Pumpkin Bread Pudding family recipe Happy holiday cooking from all of us at TeacherPop!


Weekend Sales: Hot Deals for Teachers


It’s the last #FrugalFriday before winter break—can I get a “heck yeah!”? Whether you’re looking for party duds or last-minute gifts, we’ve got you covered here at TeacherPop.

Lands’ End: Through Dec. 19 (that’s today, folks), get 40% off your entire purchase! Use coupon code SNOWMAN, pin 1714.

Linens and Things: Stock up on sheets and kitchen supplies with 25% off and free shipping. Just enter code GIFT25 from now ‘til Dec. 23.

J. Jill: Who needs a sweater refresh? Save 30% storewide through Saturday. No code necessary!

Kohl’s: Don some new duds for an extra 15% off with code THANKS3720, pin 8284.

Brooks Brothers: For all the dudes looking to up their button down shirt game, check it out at 25% off and codeless through Dec. 23.

American Eagle Outfitters: Yep, that’s right, these friends of TFA are getting into the holiday spirit with 40% off and free shipping. Use code HOLIDAZE, and then go take a gulp of egg nog while you wait for your packages to arrive.

Happy holidays, teacher-shoppers!



By |December 19th, 2014|Take a Break|0 Comments|

To All the Teachers Who Wear the Same Pants Every Day

chalk board break

I was cleaning my room when I took a moment to fold my gray pants, and on examination, I discovered patches had turned sheer.

I briefly considered making some sort of quilt out of them, but I don’t sew, so instead I balled them up and threw them away. Those gray pants had some memories.

When I was a first year teacher, I spent most of my days wearing that same pair of pants. They were light gray, comfortable, and an obvious choice on mornings when I didn’t have the mental capacity to pick out an outfit. (That was most days.)  Sometimes I’d pick them off the floor and pull them on. They matched the one blue shirt I owned that was clean. I’d run a brush through my hair, put on a hint of mascara, and run out the door an hour before the children arrived.

My students gave me a lot of grief about those pants. Sometimes they’d call me out on my outfit repeats: “Ms. Freeman, didn’t you wear those yesterday?” And although I value honesty, the gray pants often compromised me. “Of course not,” I’d say. Or better yet, “I did laundry last night. They’re clean.”

At this time last year, I was at my lowest. I took off a day of work because I couldn’t stop crying about the frequent disasters that were happening in my classroom. I counted down the days so well and could tell you in early October how many days in each week we had to be at school, and by December, you could just look at me and I’d say: “We’re gonna make it guys. Thanksgiving, and then it’s just five days, five days, four point five days.” And, obviously, I was wearing those gray pants daily.

The holidays are coming, and soon all the teachers who wear the same pants every day will get to rest. That provides some solid hope. Hold on to hope—solid, tangible hope— for your classroom, for your students. Real hope isn’t, “Maybe things will get better.” It’s more like, “Things will get better. Someday soon, I will throw away my gray pants.”

Affordable, Last-Minute Gifts—Order by Dec. 19 for Holiday Delivery!

We get it: You’ve been reaaally busy, buried under final exams and keeping your students engaged in these frenzied days before break. Shopping for holiday gifts for friends and coworkers may have slipped off the to-do list, but never fear, it’s not too late!

TeacherPop put together a few affordable options. Best part? They are all under $25, and if you shop til you drop by Friday (Dec. 19), you’ll receive free shipping and delivery by December 25.*

affordable gifts

  1. Be Your Best Selfie Tote
  2. Moonstruck Chocolates
  3. Flutter Beauty Tall Canister
  4. Essie Winter Mini 4-Pack
  5. Sputnik Vase
  6. Philosophy Holiday Duo
  7. Porcupine Pencil Holder

Happy holiday shopping!

*Please check individual stores for specific shipping deadlines.


By |December 17th, 2014|DIY, Take a Break|0 Comments|

Frugal Friday: Hot Deals for Teachers


Frugal Friday is TeacherPop’s weekly round-up of sales for teachers on a budget.

Today (12/12)

LOFT: 50% off sweaters and an extra 60% off sale styles. No code necessary!

Asos: 30% off cold-weather gear for guys and gals.

NY & Company: 50% off everything with no exclusions.

Payless: Stock up on cozy boots and slippers—15% off everything with code ZZLIGHTS.

Ends Sunday (12/14)

Banana Republic: 40% off full-priced items with code BRSANTA.

Lands’ End: 30% off regularly priced merchandise and an extra 20% off sale and clearance. Plus, free shipping! Use code WINTER and pin 1244.

Ends Monday (12/15)

J.Crew: An extra 30% off select sale styles with code GIFTTHIS.

Madewell: Up to 30% off your purchase with code GOFORIT.

Barnes & Noble: Use code BNFAMILY at checkout to take 25% off any one item. Books make great gifts, people!

Kohl’s: Save 20% when you spend $100+ with code WREATH or 15% when you spend less than $100 with code HOLLY.

Hot bonus tip: There’s a new shopping tool for the fab and frugal. It’s called Shoptagr, and it notifies you when items at your favorite shops go on sale. Download the free browser extension to start saving.

Happy shopping!


The Holiday Spirit: Winter Break Is Around the Corner

candy canes

Thanksgiving break provided a much-needed respite from an incredibly busy semester. And now, the end is in sight. There are only a number of weeks before the semester is over and you will have the winter break to spend time with loved ones, tend to things you’ve been putting off (hello dentist!), and finally get some real rest.

As we approach this time of the year, I want to encourage you to take time to reflect on the semester. During this time, it can be easy to develop tunnel vision, to plow ahead, wrap up the semester, and not think about anything except making it to break. But, now is also a time rich with opportunity to make meaning of the experiences you’ve had this semester.

When you think back on the semester, what comes to mind? Which experiences stand out? If you’re like me, the first things that come to mind will probably be the struggles—how hard management has been, that time you really “blew up” at your students, the practice state test that did not go well. But, after thinking about those things, remind yourself of the things that have gone well. Is there a “problem student” that you were able to reach? Are there students who have made academic progress that you’re really proud of. Which lesson plans or units have gone well? It is easy to remember the times that we fail or the struggles we have, but it is important to remind yourself of success, too.


Now take this reflection even one step further: connect your experiences this year to your larger values and goals. What have you learned about yourself as a person? Often we grow the most through hardship. How have the challenges you’ve experienced this semester changed you? Do you still feel connected to the reason you chose to teach in the first place? What was this reason? If you feel disconnected from this, why? How might you reconnect with the values that drew you to this job?

Congratulations on making it through the semester. You have worked incredibly hard and you deserve a break. I hope you have a wonderful winter break and that you are able to spend time reflecting on the many meaningful experiences you’ve had over the past six months.

Happy Weekend, Teachers!

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Don’t miss some of our favorite posts of the week:

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Five Factors That Have a Huge Impact on Teacher Quality of Life


Teacher quality of life has quickly become a hot button issue as teacher retention at high- performing, “No Excuses” charter schools has taken center stage. Having taught at three very different schools, I have uncovered five factors that can have an impact on teacher quality of life.

1)    Planning Minutes Per Week

Planning time, or lack thereof, can be the difference between getting by until summer break or thriving at a school. Knowing on the front end the number of minutes or periods, as well as any standing responsibilities, gives a lot of insight into how much work you’ll have to take home each night. Specifically, find out about any meetings you have during your planning time, whether or not you need to enter in behavior data, or if your planning periods will be sacrificed when a team member is out sick.

2)    After School and Weekend Responsibilities

School hours are increasing across the board, and it’s not unusual for me to be with students from 7:15am until 5:30-6pm each day. Add on meetings two days a week and Saturday School once a month, and it’s very easy to let a schedule overwhelm you. Clarity around when you are expected to be at school allows you to be more efficient with your hours and work-life balance.

3)    Access to Technology

This year I have rolled out a number of blended learning programs to help build my students conceptual math skills. I am only able to do this because I know that I have complete access to a set of working Chrome books every day. Knowing exactly what sort of tech access you have allows you to get creative with your lessons and ensures that you don’t get left with out-of-date technology.

4)    Substitute Policy

What happens when someone is sick? Teachers get sick, relatives go to the hospital, and once in a while, people will have to miss a day of school.  Does your school have a stable of substitutes? Will other teachers have to cover your class? In my experience, teachers are an incredibly selfless group, but people will inevitably be out of work. It is vital that schools have a clear plan to cover absences that are humane for teachers and ensure that students are still learning.

5)    How Discipline Works

My mantra for my friends who are considering new schools is: what is their discipline policy; explain it in two sentences. With all of the options for how student behavior is managed, it’s critical to learn what happens to students who are not meeting expectations, when they are removed from the classroom, and what absolute deal breakers are for your school building.

What are your deal breakers? What do you look for in a school to support quality of life for teachers?