In our Meet the Maker series, we shine a light on some of the many talented educators behind the resources on TPT, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at their process and their story.
When Belinda Givens of BVG SLP first embarked on her journey as a teletherapist in 2016, she quickly realized something: there weren’t a lot of digital resources designed for teletherapy platforms. So, she started creating the very resources she wanted to use with her students.
We recently chatted with Belinda about her commitment to providing high-quality digital and teletherapy solutions for speech, language, and literacy. Read on to learn more about her approach — and to find a few resources you can use with your students.
What are two resources you’d recommend?
For educators of any grade level or subject, effective data management is crucial. This resource is universal and serves as an excellent tool for educators, SLPs, and coaches alike. It’s designed to streamline and simplify the process of tracking and reporting progress.
This next resource is a comprehensive collection, great for teaching story elements, comprehension, answering WH questions, story sequencing, and retelling using cohesive ties. It’s versatile, suitable for small group intervention literacy circles, speech and language therapy groups, and even whole group instruction. This series aids in explicitly teaching students to identify key details in texts for increased accuracy with answering comprehension questions.
What motivates you to create resources for teachers?
My primary motivation for creating resources stems from my passion and commitment to my students. The desire to provide them with high-quality, culturally sensitive materials keeps me inspired and driven to continue doing what I do. Initially, my intention was not to sell these resources on TPT. It was the needs of my students that drove my creativity and resource development.
The decision to start selling on TPT came later, influenced by the encouragement of my sister, a seasoned teacher with over 30 years of experience. Seeing the value and potential impact of my resources beyond my immediate students continues to be extremely uplifting and brings me joy to know that I can share my creations with a broader audience.
The connections that I have made with fellow SLPs, educators, and parents, coupled with the positive messages that I receive, truly inspire and validate the time and effort put into creating my resources. This feedback not only fuels my passion but also reinforces the importance of what I’m doing. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that my work is making a tangible difference in classrooms and therapy sessions, and these connections serve as a continuous source of motivation and encouragement in my journey.
Tell us a bit about how being a TPT Teacher-Author changed your life.
Becoming a TPT Teacher-Author has definitely been a journey. The additional stream of income has been extremely beneficial. It has provided financial flexibility and opportunities that have truly been a blessing to my family.
However, it’s important to point out that this journey isn’t without its complexities. The time commitment required to create high-quality resources is substantial. Balancing this with other professional and personal responsibilities can be quite challenging. It’s not a simple task of just putting together a few materials; it involves a deep level of dedication, creativity, and a genuine passion for education and student empowerment. The process of crafting resources that are not only educational, but also culturally responsive and engaging, demands considerable effort and time.
In order to continue to strive, however, it requires ongoing engagement, from researching and developing content to marketing and customer interaction. But the satisfaction and fulfillment I feel from knowing that my work is impacting students and educators in a positive way makes it all worthwhile.
What’s your favorite thing about being a part of the TPT community?
My favorite aspect of the TPT community is the incredible connections I’ve made along the way. From fellow Teacher-Authors to repeat customers, and supporters who have discovered my blog through my resources, the relationships I’ve built are the highlight of this journey. These interactions not only enrich my professional life, but also provide a sense of community and shared purpose. The exchange of ideas, feedback, and encouragement with like-minded individuals passionate about education has been immensely rewarding.
What’s a life lesson you have learned from being a TPT Teacher-Author?
Even before embarking on my journey as a TPT Teacher-Author, I’d always been a lifelong learner. My journey with TPT has been a testament to my passion for learning, growing, and evolving. This experience has reinforced the need to continually challenge myself and strive for improvement.
Selling on TPT is not just about creating and distributing resources; it demands constant growth, dedication, and a commitment to ongoing learning. It’s not a simple task of just putting together a few materials; it involves a deep level of dedication, creativity, and a genuine passion for education and student empowerment. It has taught me that, in order to remain effective, one must be adaptable and always willing to acquire new skills and knowledge. This could range from understanding evolving educational trends to mastering new digital tools for resource creation.
This role has been a continuous learning curve, where each step presents an opportunity to enhance my expertise and adapt to the changing landscape of education and digital marketplaces. It’s a reminder that learning never stops, and being open to new experiences and knowledge is key to both personal and professional development.
It’s clear that you put a lot of time into your resources. Can you tell us more about your creation process?
My resource creation process varies depending upon the intended audience. However, it is always very thorough and student-focused, and begins with detailed research. The first step involves identifying a specific need or gap in my students’ learning. Once I pinpoint this need, my goal is to develop a comprehensive unit that not only teaches the concept explicitly, but also offers ample opportunities for practice.
A crucial aspect of this process is ensuring that the resource is adaptable. I aim to create materials that can be easily differentiated to suit a diverse range of learners. This adaptability ensures that the resource is accessible and effective for students with varying abilities and learning styles.
Once the resource is developed, I test it with my own school-aged children. This step is invaluable as it provides direct insight into how engaging and effective the resource is from a student’s perspective. I gather their thoughts, feedback, and recommendations — focusing particularly on how to make the content both fun and educational, while ensuring it addresses the key concepts effectively.
Using this feedback, I refine the resource to enhance its educational value and engagement factor. This overall process ensures that the final product is educationally sound, enjoyable, and relevant for students.
Where do you find inspiration for your resources?
I draw inspiration for my resources primarily from my students and my own children. As a mother, I’ve witnessed firsthand the challenges and rigor they encounter in the classroom every day. This close observation fuels my commitment to ensuring that my students are well-equipped with the necessary skills for success, in my therapy room and beyond.
Working in small-group settings is particularly insightful, as it allows me to focus on the individual needs of each student in a comfortable and supportive environment. This approach helps me tailor my resources to address specific areas where they need support or enrichment.
My aim is always to set my students up for success, foster their confidence, and encourage active participation. This direct connection with my students and children provides a rich, real-world context that guides the development of my resources, ensuring they are relevant, effective, evidence based, and empowering.
What are some of the ways you incorporate research-based strategies into your resources?
Incorporating research-based strategies into my resources is integral to my approach as a speech language pathologist. With a solid foundation in evidence-based practices, everything I do — from treatment and assessment to resource creation — is guided by the latest and most effective methodologies in the field. Staying up-to-date with the most current intervention approaches is essential for ensuring positive outcomes for my students.
As part of my commitment to lifelong learning and staying at the forefront of my field, I actively engage in continuing education. This dedication to learning is reflected in the quality and efficacy of the resources I create. Each resource is thoughtfully crafted, drawing on proven strategies and approaches to ensure they are practical and grounded in solid research. My focus is always on tailoring these resources to what has been demonstrated to be effective, ensuring that they truly meet the needs of my students and contribute positively to their learning journey.
What are some ways you ensure your resources work with students?
To ensure my resources are effective with students, we trial them out together. Measurable outcomes are extremely important, and therefore, I engage in data collection before, during, and after interventions. This is crucial for assessing the overall impact of the resources. I intentionally design my resources to be interactive, aiming to foster motivation, engagement, and active participation. As the facilitator, I observe how students interact with and respond to the content, which allows me to provide real-time differentiation and make necessary adjustments.
These modifications are not only beneficial for my practice but also serve as valuable guidance for fellow SLPs, educators, and parents. Whether it’s through built-in scaffolding, incorporating multiple-choice options, or emphasizing key contextual clues, the ultimate objective is to equip students with the critical skills needed for success. This approach ensures that the resources are not just theoretically sound, but practically effective in diverse learning environments.
Who’s another Teacher-Author you admire?
The TPT community is filled with talented Teacher-Authors! A standout for me is Tonya Akins of Akins Math Shop. Tonya has not only been an inspiration; she has been instrumental in my journey, encouraging me to start my own store and offering unwavering support since the beginning. More than just a fellow educator, Tonya is my sister and a brillant educator. Specializing in math, she has over 30 years of teaching experience, recently focusing her expertise as a math coach for K-5 students. Her passion and skill in teaching math are truly commendable.