We are so excited to feature this Katy mama today- a kindergarten teacher for ten years who continues to pour into other educators in her community and beyond! Mamas, meet the amazing Lindsey Vela!
Throughout her teaching journey, Lindsey discovered her love for sharing what she was creating for her classroom and students with other educators.
She started her Instagram page in May 2021, Lesson Plans & Vans because a few of her former teammates continued to encourage her with the things she was already making for them – ideas she had, organization/décor tips, etc… so she decided to take a plunge! A month into posting, Lindsey talked about how she likes sending “happy notes” to students/parents monthly, and how she tracked it. Teachers from all over commented on it and wanted a copy of her form.
Fast forward to today, she has over 30k followers and started a TeachersPayTeachers account, so she can more easily share with others! teacher Pay Teachers is an incredible resource and popular online marketplace where you can get resources directly from teachers and pay them for their work!
We got to chat with Lindsey about her teaching career, her big big love for baseball, and more about her platform! See below for our full interview!
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the Katy area?
I am a born and raised Katy girl! I am an ’09 KHS grad and married my husband who was also a KHS grad (’08). I left to go to school at Texas A&M, and then came right back to teach in the district I went through!
How many kiddos do you have and what are their ages?
We have one incredible daughter, Parker Quinn, who is 5! She will be starting kindergarten at my school next year.
What’s the biggest gift about being a mom?
Getting to see pieces of yourself in your child. For example, I’ve been doing my own bible study and have told her about it, and in turn she has asked to start a mommy and me one! She is so proud to tell everyone about it, and it has been the biggest answered prayer since having her. It has led to so many beautiful conversations, and a more active prayer life, and it makes me realize that all the little things- she notices. So when I may feel like I’m failing at so many things, the things that matter, she notices and wants the same thing in her own 5 year old life.
One thing people would be surprised to know about you…
This is hard!!! I’m a pretty open book. Maybe that I’ve visited 9 of the MLB parks around the country from family vacations growing up! BIG baseball family, but now it’s all football in our house!
Favorite local things to do in the Houston area?
Honestly, Los Cucos on a Friday night, or going to some sort of sporting event! My husband is a Jr High coach, plus I have 3 brothers – so sports have been life! Aggie football, Astros games, or Jr High sports!
What is your go-to activity for yourself for pampering or for fun?
Getting my nails done at Venetian Nails!
Favorite small shop or local businesses?
I love so many small shops on Instagram! Callie Danielle, Lipstick Littles, 3eDesigns, Headbands of Hope are my top 4!
Best mom hack that makes life easier?
Realizing I can’t do it all, and moving on. I try to do it all- but at the end of the day I know it’s impossible. Once you realize that fast food/frozen meals every once in a while (read, a few times a week- thanks to working mom life), things get a smidge easier.
Tell us about your Instagram platform- when you started and the inspo behind it!
I started my Instagram page in May 2021, because a few of my former teammates continued to encourage me with the things that I was already making for them/ideas I had/organization/décor tips… so I decided to take a plunge! I didn’t expect much to come from it, maybe connect with a few local teachers, share a few ideas, learn from others. I was already (on my personal account) following teachers with large accounts that inspired me, and in my mind I thought maybe one or two people who weren’t already my friends would find something I said interesting and helpful. A month into posting, I talked about how I like sending “happy notes” to students/parents monthly, and how I tracked it. Teachers all over commented on it and wanted a copy of my form. I hadn’t really started a TeachersPayTeachers, so I just had them comment their email and I offered to share. Then through word of mouth, more and more people wanted it and I realized that maybe I did have something interesting to share and helpful to others.
When did you come out with Resource folders? Looks like people LOVE THEM!
I came up with the Resource Folder idea because teachers were really wanting the items I was making/sharing, but I didn’t want to do TPT (because I was under wrong impressions/thought that they took 75% of sales, etc. – I was wrong! Ha!). So, I had seen another teacher on the #teachergram that started sharing folders. I was intrigued, so I messaged and asked her about how it worked, and if she would be offended if I started something similar. She was so friendly and encouraged me to try it, and with the interest that teachers had already, I decided to make a bulk amount of products/clean up things I had made, and start a Google Drive Folder with resources that teachers could pay for access to join. Presenting it as a “discount resource” for teachers, with resources that all ended up going onto my TPT once I started that up. Within a year, several hundred teachers across the country had joined, and there were over 100 items inside the folder. Talking to my husband and some very encouraging friends, I decided to open a second folder. I was done adding to the first (though I still do sell it!) and started a second so that the things that I was making was still profitable for me, because even though my goal is to share teacher resources at a reasonable/low price, I still needed it to also be helpful for me. Teachers were so accepting/excited and joined that one too! So now, I share my organization products, daily slides to organize a day, décor, and so much more, both in my Resource Folders, as well as on TPT!
How long have you been a teacher and teaching kinder babies?
This is year 10! Hard to believe. I taught a semester in 2nd grade, starting right after I walked the stage at Texas A&M, 7 years in 1st, and now am in my second year in K! I truly LOVE kindergarten and think that this is THE grade for me!
Did you always know you wanted to be a teacher and what’s the best part about it for you?
Yes! As cliché as it sounds, a few really exceptional teachers along my path helped me see my potential, and I realized that I wanted to be the same for children one day! One teacher in particular, my 5th grade teacher that I had during 9/11, I still keep in contact with! He was an army reserve, and left to fight once the school year ended. Now every year my class at the time writes him a letter and we send it to him for Veterans Day! I hope that one day I have students that feel that impacted by me that I am able to see where they are later on in life.
You love helping other teachers as well. Tell us about the community you’ve built and how you help other educators.
It is truly the most incredible thing. I have been blessed to talk to teachers all over the world, and have created my own small little corner of the internet where I can be real and share things that help me! I love all things organization/tech tips, and getting to share those things are so fun to me! Powerpoint and designing things is something that I really love, and if I can help another teacher with a few tips to make her day easier, that is the goal!
Best advice for first year teachers?
Set clear boundaries. I love my students and their families fiercely, but I am my best version of me at school if I am able to be fully present at home. Both places deserve my full attention, and by doing that I think that it is important for first year teachers to realize that there will always be something else to do, but it can wait. Go home, fill your bucket outside of your classroom, but when you’re at school, be at school. Also, have fun! Students will remember the times that you broke out into songs from Encanto more than they’ll remember your lesson about comparing numbers. Be the teacher that can be silly! My number one rule in class, and my kids can all tell you, is “we can be silly if we can be serious”.
What would you tell the old “You” before you had kids?
It’s not as easy to get pregnant as you think it will be. The journey to having a baby will be harder on you than you think, and the worries of infertility will lead to anxiety that will later lead to medication – and that’s ok. I would also tell pre-child me that the journey to baby #1 would be easier on your heart than the secondary infertility you would later face. But also, with that, you would eventually grow a deeper love for Jesus, and walk with Him closer than before. I would tell myself that going out to Northgate may be fun, but watching your daughter run and chase after her dogs is infinitely more fun.
Be sure to follow along with Linsdey on IG and her Teachers Pay Teachers account!