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Activate and Differentiate – Reading Comprehension Skills with Tori La Rue [episode 7]


Click below to hear the episode about reading comprehension strategies:

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Today is a special episode for me. We have a guest on today’s podcast, but it’s not just any guest, it’s Tori La Rue, who happens to be my sister! In today’s episode, we’re talking about crucial reading comprehension skills and how you can differentiate them. 

Tori’s background starts in newspaper editing, but like a lot of moms, once she had her daughter, she wanted a better work-life balance, so she transitioned to creating her own newsletter company, where she became certified in copy editing. Soon after, I needed someone to edit and proofread some of my products, so our business lives intersected! Now she is a collaborator with me at Wife Teacher Mommy. 

Throughout the episode, we discussed a lot of different reading comprehension strategies to help students improve their skills, but the one way we find the most important is activating background knowledge. While this skill is one that some teachers might skip due to time restraints, you shouldn’t. Think about it, you can’t learn anything without previously connecting it with something you’ve already learned. That’s background knowledge! 

Other skills that work on reading comprehension are finding the main idea, figuring out the meaning of words through context clues, and drawing conclusions and comparisons from the text. Based on our conversation, we realized that this skill is not only used in the classroom but are life skills that can grow and develop. 

Due to the pandemic, we’ve seen more educational gaps than ever before. An easy solution to this problem is differentiating reading passages to meet the needs of every student. Although each student has a different passage based on their skill level, discussions can still be synthesized through the whole class or small groups. This idea also works for homeschooled students, as each kid can read a passage at their level. 

It’s no secret these skills are crucial for a student’s literacy development, but meeting the needs of each student can be a challenge. With the help of Tori, we’ve found ways to differentiate while growing a student’s reading comprehension skill. 

There are so many exciting things happening at Wife Teacher Mommy, and one of those is our virtual summer event: Educate & Rejuvenate. This is an event we’re hosting and it’s going to be so fun! We have sessions including life coaching skills, talking teacher burnout, and learning amazing teaching strategies that you can implement in your classrooms. Another bonus is you can get PD credit and tickets are only $5! Check out the links below for more information!

Key points about reading comprehension strategies, we discuss:

  • How reading comprehension skills can be applied to real-life 
  • An analogy of how weight lifting is like struggling readers without differentiation 
  • Ways to bridge the educational gaps through differentiated reading passages with your students
  • Why setting kids up for a good first read increases their comprehension
  • How everything circles back to activating background knowledge, making it the most important comprehension skill

Resources mentioned:

Meet Tori:

I’m Tori, and Kelsey’s been my best friend for nearly three decades. Surprise: I’m her sister! Growing up, (as little sisters often do) I frequently found myself getting into Kelsey’s business (from raiding her closet for cute clothes to inserting myself into her friend groups and extracurriculars). As they say, some things don’t change. When a writing/editing spot at Wife Teacher Mommy opened, I leaped at the opportunity. I’m excited to be part of Kelsey’s business once again. 😉 These days when I’m not writing, you can find me wrangling my two littles, dreaming up fun vacation plans with my hubby, scouring Jane and Etsy for eclectic jewelry, teaching my daughter preschool, exercising, and—of course— binge-watching my favorite shows on Hulu.

Reading comprehension strategies related podcast episodes and blog posts:

Connect with Kelsey:

Read the transcript for episode 7, Activate and Differentiate – Reading Comprehension Skills with Tori La Rue :

You are listening to episode number seven of Wife Teacher Mommy: The Podcast, activate and differentiate reading comprehension skills. I am so excited about today’s episode, I am bringing someone onto the podcast who you probably don’t know. But she is one of my very best friends, a professional writer and collaborator with me at Wife Teacher Mommy. Oh, and also she’s my sister. But really quick before this episode begins I have a super exciting announcement. To get to Educate and Rejuvenate are open. This is our summer virtual conference that will take place the last week of June on June 28 and June 29. You’re going to get access to so many amazing sessions. And our keynote speakers are Briana Richardson from Honest Teacher Vibes; I bet you’ve seen her on Instagram @honestteachervibes. She’s hilarious, you guys will love her. And then Amber Harper from Burned In Teacher, she’s the author of Hacking Teacher Burnout, she’s going to talk to us all about teacher burnout. You guys, these sessions are going to be so good. And then we’re going to have a teacher panel with current classroom teachers talking all about planning and meeting all the educational gaps that are widening during COVID. We’re gonna have uplifting, original music just for teachers, we’re gonna have bonus dance party or yoga sessions. And you’ll even get a certificate of completion for 16.5 hours, you’ll just need to verify that your district will accept that. And then also Chrissy, our life coach, will be doing a coaching session each day during the event so you’ll have access to two teacher geared live coaching sessions. It’s going to be such a great time, you can grab a ticket for only $5. Really, it’s only $5 to attend this event. It is going to be such a great time, so be sure to head to the show notes to grab your ticket. Be sure to grab it if you’re listening before June 28 2022.

So now let’s get to today’s episode, I will be interviewing Victoria La Rue, who I call Tori since she’s my sister. She is a writer, and she has been writing our reading comprehension passages for Wife Teacher Mommy for the last few years. Today we’re going to be talking all about some crucial reading comprehension skills. We’re going to mention one that is definitely our favorite and then a few others as well. And then we’re going to be talking about how you can differentiate reading comprehension in your classroom. So let’s get to today’s episode.

Hi, Tori. I’m so excited to have you on the show today.

Thank you so much for inviting me. I’m really excited. Glad to hear it.

Can you introduce yourself to our listeners? Of course.

So the first thing you should know about me is that I’m Kelsey’s sister. Yeah, it’s so awesome, she’s the best. My background is actually in newspaper editing. So you’re probably wondering why I’m here on an education podcast. But it’s fun how our stories have kind of intermingled between me and Kelsey. So I actually wanted to be an educator, I started out in English Education. And then in my senior year, I switched to Journalism on a whim and I ended up loving it. I did some reporting for education and local life, ended up doing newspaper editing. And then when I had my daughter, Ellie, for most of us, when we have a kid, you know, we start kind of figuring out what we want to do to make that work life balance work a little more for us. And so I decided to start my own newsletter company, I got my copy editing certificate. And then Kelsey was around that time, actually, that you needed someone to copy edit some of your stuff, like proofreading our products. Yes. And I thought it was just this one little time that our little business lives would kind of intersect and I didn’t know that it would lead to something bigger or more.

So yeah, so amazing how it all came together. And it was a few years ago when we decided to start writing those reading passages together. Do you remember when we first decided to start this project?

Oh, goodness. I mean, it would have been probably 2016, 2017 that we talked about it. I was going through updating some of the reading passages in the sub plans. And we just kind of we were realizing that this is so awesome, but how could we reach kids where they were at the different levels, instead of just giving them one level? I think that’s how it started.

Yeah, I agree. Because I think we were originally, we had one passage in each of the plans and then I was like, What if we get them two? And then we were like, well, what if we like did even more passages, maybe like three levels per passage per grade level? And I think for a while we were brainstorming it before we actually started the project. It may have actually been even while you were proofreading those maternity leave ones?

Yeah, I think it was, it was just an idea for a long time before we put anything to action.

Yeah, I mean, it was a long time coming. And then even once we started the first set of those passages, it took us quite some time. How long do you think it took us to finish those first sets of the differentiate comprehension and fluency passages?

Oh, it’s so ridiculous how long it took us to differentiated first set of passages. I mean, we start that just we weren’t gonna get it all done. And then we kept running into so many roadblocks, because we didn’t realize that if you start adding up because we were writing three passages per topic, yeah, for every grade, and so if you do that, and you’re doing three times the 32, we wanted one for every week, times the seventh grades. I mean, I’m not good at math. That is a lot more. We just didn’t really think through how long that would take. And then we both had pregnancies and babies, and then subsequent postpartum things.

We were a little bit of a hot mess for a bit there. And our babies were born four months apart. Now they’re both two year olds. Oh, my goodness, so crazy. At the time yeah, we were both kind of struggling a bit with our postpartum. And I’ve told I’ve told my story on the podcast before about that. But that’s another whole story.

I think it’s awesome that you share that I think it’s super relatable for people.

And that’s the thing like, you know, if you need to, like pause for a bit like, you know, you’re struggling, and you aren’t accomplishing all the things you want to It’s okay, there’s not always a timeline on everything, you know, like, we still finished those passages, even though it took longer than we thought.

Yeah, I think that’s super relatable to anyone who’s listening right now, too.

Yeah, I feel like everyone can find some sort of way to apply that to their lives, for sure. Little tangent there. But yeah, when we did finish those passages, though, like they were so amazing, and it was worth the wait, because teachers and parents have loved them, there was really nothing like that out there. And I actually was using them with Parker, my oldest. And he was a little low on that at the time on reading, more so with comprehension like he could read really well, but he had a really hard time with the comprehension part of that. So when we started using these passages that just helped him a whole ton. And he always found them really engaging, like he liked them better than what was in like, the actual curriculum. So they’ve just been really handy, even for me is now currently a homeschool mom. And we’ve had so many teachers tell us that they’ve been great in their classrooms. And I want everybody to be able to try them out. So we actually have a free sample for you. And I will link to that in the show notes.

That’ll be great. I’m really excited because the new freebie is actually one of the passages in our second set. So the set we were just talking about was our first set. And because we got a really good response, people were asking us when we could get more out. And we decided to do a growing bundle with those. And so what I’m really excited is that this new one, you’ll get a little intro to the monthly themed ones. And the monthly themes are so fun, I think it’s a really good way to engage students when they can look forward to something that helps them learn, but that might already be connected to what’s going on in the world around them.

I love these monthly ones. I think they’re so fun. And I love how you incorporate some holidays. But then there’s also just a monthly themes. There’s nonfiction, and there’s fiction, they’ve been really fun to read. But what I really want to talk about today is the crucial reading comprehension skills that we cover in these passages, and how to differentiate using those skills because I think these skills are so crucial. And the educational gaps are widening more than ever due to COVID. And that’s really why teachers have loved these passages and also parents because they can use the same passages with their kids who are different ages or levels. But the great thing is that teachers and homeschool parents can teach these skills and differentiate whether they use our passages that we’ve done together or not. So tell me a little bit. I’m trying to remember how did we choose the skills that we decided to choose in these I know we debated between a few different formats of how we wanted to do these and I love how they ended up turning out. So do you remember a little bit about that?

Well, I remember originally our format, we did not include activating background knowledge in the format. And we went through and changed the entire template after we had done a couple of the passages because we thought activating background knowledge was so important. I don’t know if you remember that.

Yeah, actually, I do. And I think that was around the time we actually wrote a blog post about why activating background knowledge is such an underrated reading comprehension skill, because it really is, I think it’s something that we don’t think about a lot. But really, it’s so important because it helps us get engaged in the new text. Like it’s like, oh, yeah, it’s kind of like a hook for students to be interested in reading the texts that’s to come.

Answers the question of why should I care for the sassy students or just like for sure, I think it does that. And then it also just makes it so that you can have a good first read. Because if you don’t set yourself up in the right zone, you’re not going to have a good first read, you’re going to have to be rereading things, which is fine. Rereading is great, but if you can set these students up to have a good first read their comprehension is going to be so much better. I think that’s one thing, maybe even that you talked about with Parker, your son about when you set him up to read it and gave him some background on it, it’s so much easier for him when he’s trying to answer those questions.

And really is because like everything we learn, we don’t read or live experience life in a vacuum, you know, everything we learn is built on something else that we’ve learned. So if we’re going to do it anyways, might as well use that background knowledge. You know,

The thing about activating background knowledge, it’s so funny, we talk about it as an essential, like reading skill, it’s just an essential life skill, you cannot learn anything, without connecting it to something you have previously learned. If we don’t do this with our students, they’re going to just be connecting it to whatever they can, instead of using it to the most optimal ability of if we can say, hey, this is a story about Easter, for example, with our new passages, like what are your favorite parts of Easter? Now they can connect it to all these real life experiences that they’ve had? For sure. The nice thing about activating background knowledge, too, is that it is such a good question to be able to ask readers of any level. So if you’re working in a classroom with varying levels, which a lot of us are because of COVID, and no students really on the same level. But especially if you’re teaching kids of different grades, activating background knowledge is a great question to be able to discuss all together, because you can use the same questions.

Exactly. And then even if the students are reading a different text, like if you’re like giving out, you know, one passage to half the class and one passage to another third, another to another third, because you’re differentiating, you can still talk about it all together at the beginning to activate their background knowledge on whatever they are reading about.

Yes. So that’s one of our favorite skills. I feel like that we did for the passages. And we actually felt passionate enough about it to redo our templates.

We completely redid the layout, it was kind of a pain. But I do think it was so important because it really is an important skill. And I love it, because now it’s like the first question on the page. So they can like do that first and then read the passage and then continue it. So definitely you guys go to the link in the show notes and check out that freebie because I think you’ll love seeing how your students are able to activate their background knowledge with those questions. Okay, so now let’s talk about a few of the other skills that we think are super important for reading comprehension. Tori, what would you say is another one?

I feel like one of the best things that we can help our students to do whether they’re in kindergarten, first grade, or sixth grade is to find and isolate the main idea or the big idea for our littles.

Yes, I totally agree that is so important. Because you know, if kids aren’t able to identify what the main idea of the passage is, then, you know, what is the point of reading it, you know, you need to be able to basically get the gist of the passage, because you’re not going to be able to remember every single thing that you read, because when you get the main idea of it, it really shows understanding of the passage. Because when you have a question, say like, you know, and I see this a lot, both on our passages or in basically any type of reading passage that you get, there will be a question like, What is the main idea of this? And there are a few options and all of them come from the text. For example, if you’re doing like Mary Had a Little Lamb or something, the question might be like, What is the main idea? And the answer options might be Mary Had a Little Lamb, and another one might be the lamb had white fleece so that like, helps the teacher, you know, as educator, whether the kids are really understanding the text or not?

Yes, yes, no. And I think it makes sense. Because, really, we’re trying to set these young readers up just for success in life. When we go and read a news article, we take away the gist of it, we want to take away the main idea, not necessarily that it was a Toyota that crashed, we want to take away the idea of like, there’s this huge upset, and now there’s going to be a huge delay on the freeway or whatever, you know, whatever the main idea is, and so I think it’s a crucial skill, because it comes up for all of us every day, whether we notice it or not.

So true. I love that, really, because we are preparing our students to be able to read, you know, we’re not just doing this just because we want them to, you know, be able to answer the question on a passage or whatever we want them to be able to understand whatever they’re reading, anytime in their life. So I agree, I love that real life application example.

The thing about all of these skills is that the whole point of reading comprehension skills and questions in general, is to set our kids up to be lifelong learners. So you’ll see that connection on activating background knowledge, you’ll see that on, you know, locating the main idea or any of the other skills that you use in reading comprehension.

Okay, so another skill that we go over in these is the meaning of words and context clues. And I think this one is always so much fun. And I love doing this with my own kids, like, you know, when there’s a word, and a lot of times, it’s like, you know, since they don’t know the word, they don’t even know how to pronounce it. Like they’re trying to sound it out. And then like, you know, we sound it out together. And then I’m like, do you know what that means? And they a lot of times will say no, and then we’re like, Hmm, well, what do we think it means? And you kind of look at the text around the word. And you’re like, oh, it looks like it’s describing this. What do you think that might mean?

Yeah, I think that’s a great way to do it. Especially your littles are decently little right. Yes. So I think it’s amazing how this context clues can apply for them as they look around and try to say, okay, well, this is next to this noun, it’s describing it what, you know, the ball, what is it like, you know, and then you’re like, oh, spherical, might be describing that, or whatever, you know, it kind of helps. But I think the cool thing about context clues, I think of all of these things, in the terms of differentiation, and it’s a skill that they’re going to just keep leveling up. Because once you get to fifth and sixth grade, now, you’re not just using context clues to determine one word, you might use it to determine what is this whole section mean? What is alluding to, because we’re getting into figurative language at this point. So I admire my third grade teacher who really set it up to you’re learning this now because it’s not just going to help you decode words is gonna help you to code everything.

Yeah, exactly. Because you know, then we’ll be able to use the context clues to decipher words or phrases, or even whole sentences. So that’s why it’s such a great skill. And as you said, I loved how you talked about how we can use that to level up our reading skills. So some kids may be working on words, but context clues and others may be working on, you know, more of the figurative language. So that’s the great thing about this skill is it does grow with the child.

And I love that it’s called context clues. Because don’t you just picture the little detective with his magnifying glass, like, you know, trying to figure out the clue. I love that if you make the sense of curiosity, and your kids have, oh, when you don’t know something, that’s when you get to explore it. That’s you get to look at the clues around it and try to figure it out. I was major into mystery novels as a kid and now. And so even as a child, this was one of my favorite reading strategies.

I think so too. It’s so fun, because you can have like the magnifying glass like detective theme. The other thing that we’ve done is con-text clues. So like, we have a worksheet that is like texting, and they’re actually trying to figure out like, what the different texts back and forth mean. So that’s, that’s actually I believe it’s in our sixth grade sub plans. But yeah, I feel like we should do like a product that’s even more extended about that. Yeah, that’d be adorable. But basically, you can take context clues and whatever you’re doing, you can either tie in the detective or you can do like texting for contex clues; there are lots of ways that you can teach contents clues in a really fun way.

And again, when you’re doing those things, sorry to bring it back. But you know, it’s my favorite reading strategy. That’s activating background knowledge, the background knowledge at the his kids have about texting. And that makes it fun, right?

So true. And I love how you circle back to that, because I really do agree that activating background knowledge, I feel like it even like kind of trickles its way into everything else, because like making connections, that’s like kind of activating their background knowledge once they’ve already read the text. So that really does trickle its way through all the comprehension skills. So it’s kind of like the ultimate skill.

Yes, I’ll probably just keep circling back. And that reminds me, you talked about making connections. That’s one of the biggest thing that we focus on in these passages. But that is good to focus on in any reading comprehension with students is to draw comparisons, comparisons, I mean, obviously, you can see you have the general text to text, text to self text to world. And then also integration of other media, both of those things are an extreme part of the Common Core, I mean, they come up in points 6,9,7, and 8, so it’s just really all throughout there, making connections and integrating other media is something that these kids, we really want to help them to come out of the school knowing.

Yeah, that’s such a great point. Because like students, they can, you know, connect that to other things they’ve read or watched or whatever. And then they can like put all that information together. And they could synthesize it together and you know, make their own report or something like that. And the other great thing that we talked about before with this is like, for example, if you have kids actually reading different passages at different levels, or different books, you can have all the kids talk about what they learned in each of their respective reading assignments, and kind of even synthesize that together.

Yeah, I feel like that’s one of the best ways to differentiate, not everything is going to be so simply outlined as having this same story at different grade levels, things aren’t written like that, generally, I would say that our our passages are the exception, not the rule. Sure. So I would say one of the best ways to help your kids integrate, while also differentiating is to give them like you said, a different reading material that’s on their level, and then have the kids either all together as a class, or you can even assign groups of two, if you did two different readings, or three, if they did three different readings, and have them come together and say, Hey, this is what I learned about mine. What did you learn about yours? And then say, what are the similarities? What are the differences, and now you’re being able to differentiate while hitting so many different grade level standards.

I think that’s so important. This really shows like why it’s so important to differentiate because not only are you meeting every kid at their level, so it’s accessible to them because you know, you can’t give one kid reading material that’s too hard for them, they’re not going to succeed. And then if you give another kid one, that’s too easy, they’re just going to be bored. So it’s important for that reason, but also, there are all these powerful moments of like bringing all that knowledge together. And that’s why differentiating is such an important skill in the classroom. Or even if you’re homeschooling and you have kids at different ages, as well,

I really like to think about it like, okay, picture me going to a weights class at the gym, okay. And I’m the same class with all these other ladies, right. And there’s a lot of ladies who are really strong, some of them are lifting these 20 pound weights to do their little presses and rows and tricep dips and all the things right. So if I go try to pick up a 20 pound weight, and try to do these moves that they’re doing in the class, that is not going to be helpful for me or healthy, and you know, I’m gonna get frustrated really quick. And I’m gonna think I’m terrible at exercise, I suck at it, I don’t want to do it. And I’m going to be totally demotivated and not go back to the gym. And I feel like that’s what our struggling readers feel like when we give them a text that for me, like it would be impossible for me to maybe lift those weights. And it might be we might just be asking something that is not quite at the level of these kids yet.

Exactly. And we don’t want them to feel that like, Oh, I’m not good at reading. I mean, as a teacher that just like hurts, that is the last thing you want to hear. And it’s never that they aren’t good at reading. It’s just that they need something different, and that is totally fine. And that’s why we’re there for them.

Yes, there is. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with the fact that I am going to use my five pound weights. Actually, that’s amazing, because then I’m going to use those five pound weights and then I’m going to level up and use sevens and then I can use 10s, just like these kids who they’re going to start off at their own skill level and then when we give them that weight, so to speak, that is what allows them to gain strength. gain confidence and build up to the next level. But if we were saying, No, you need to be at grade level and they’re not there, like you need to lift these 10 pounds, it’s not gonna be conducive to like a good environment. And I think that analogy works with the with the advanced kids too.

Absolutely because if you handed the lady who been going to your CrossFit class, like for years, and you handed her some five pound weights, she’d be like, this is pointless.

She’d feel like there’s no point it’s boring, and she’s not getting enough, she probably wouldn’t show up. That’s what our like, our kids could just be like, I’m not going to show up.

And actually, a lot of times like those students will end up like goofing off and everything because they’re bored. A lot of times, that’s like a sign.

But I think that we put so much pressure on teachers to differentiate though, because I feel like it is a lot, because we’re asking so much. I mean, it would be amazing if each of you had the luxury to just be you know, one on one tutoring, but for most of us, it’s not. And so differentiating becomes a necessity, but also something that is good to figure out how to do simply because you’re not going to be able to do it all the time. And you want to just come up with some things that are more routine of how you can differentiate. There’s so many facets of your teaching you want to focus on and you don’t want this to drag you down and make you feel demotivated, we’re talking about motivating the students, you also need to be motivated and feel, excited about your teaching as a teacher.

So true. And that’s one of the many things that we talked about a Wife Teacher Mommy is like, you have so many things to balance. Like the teaching alone, there are so many things like grading and planning and differentiating, and all the different subjects that you teach if you’re an elementary teacher who’s not departmentalized. So there’s just so much to it. And you could only do what you can do. So like we have all these tips, but you just get to take what you’re able to do, and then leave the rest. And don’t ever feel bad, you are an amazing teacher. So I know that you’re all going to be doing your best to differentiate. And that is what we can do.

Yeah, so 100% do not take this podcast and think, oh my gosh, I didn’t differentiate all of the different readings that I gave my students and feel bad. Don’t use that as a beating stick. Because you’re amazing. And the point is just to figure out some simple ways that you can add it in. Yeah, I think it’s unrealistic to think that every single time you do any reader, you’re gonna differentiate that’s impossible. But just do some simple ways to sneak it in there.

But if they do want a simple way to do it, I will plug our reading passages because I really do believe it’s a way that you as teachers can differentiate without it having to be so stressful, because the great thing about these passages is the differentiation is already done, like Tori was talking about, we took the years of figuring it out, so you don’t have to. So if you want to check those out, I will put the link to those in the show notes. And the freebie sample is there as well. So you can try it before you decide if they will work for you.

Yes. And also just to give you us a couple more things that you can try, you’ve probably you’re brilliant, you’ve probably already thought of all these things. But just to read jog your memory of a couple of things to do for differentiation to work that you can sneak into your routines. The biggest thing is to give them reading that would be on their level. But then you could still make sure to have classroom discussions all together, if that makes it easier by asking some of just the basic questions of what is the main idea? Things like that, who is telling this story? And what is their perspective in the situation? Things like that, that you can all talk together about even if it’s not the exact same reading?

And then the other big thing we talked about today is activating background knowledge and why we think that is such a crucial comprehension skill. It’s why we completely redid the layout of our passages we can include it because remember, we don’t live in a vacuum, we always bring in our background knowledge with us. And that can get kids engaged before they even read the text. And then it trickles into all the other things we talked about such as making connections, and bringing in even context clues everything you’re using your background knowledge to figure that out. So if we can do that, right from the get go as they begin reading, they will be set up for success. Yes. Okay. And so now before you go, I have a couple of fun, unrelated questions for you. But since you’re my sister, I thought they might be fun for our listeners.

Okay, bring it on.

So first, what was it like growing up having me as an older sister?

Oh, you really left yourself open there didn’t you.

I did. I was like, should I ask that?

I mean, you were very obviously very boss, right? I mean, do you think to illustrate this point listeners, Kelsey, we were obsessed with The Little Mermaid. And we would watch it all the time, but we love to act. So we would want to act all the parts out as the movie was going. I would want to be Ariel. But Kelsey be like, there can’t be two Ariels and I’m already Ariel, do you want to be the prince or Ursula? No, but all jokes aside, all jokes aside, really. I mean, you were kind of bossy, but I just remember it was it was a blast. It was growing up with a best friend. Having a playmate wherever you go, that’s actually why I wanted to have my, two my kids so close together so that they would have that built in friendship, like we did. Same here.

And you know, really, we’re just so close. And it’s so fun. We’re like sisters, and best friends. So how do you think all of that led us to working so well together today?

Oh, you’re still the boss? Oh, my goodness, it’s so true. Oh, my gosh, I’m just kidding. Oh, my gosh, no, I think it just lended itself so well, for us to have a good working relationship, because especially when we were going through that time that we talked about to our listeners a little bit about taking so much longer than we thought on these passages that we were excited about, we really are able to give each other grace, but also push each other. The last time took us two years. This time we’re doing a growing bundle. There’s a deadline every month we’re doing this. So I think it helps us both ways, grace, but also challenge.

Yeah, we definitely are challenging each other more now. But it’s because we know that we’re both in a better place now. Also, by the way, I do think we forgot to mention that we do have the growing bundle right now. So it’s an awesome deal right now, if you happen to be listening as this episode is coming out, so be sure to check that out.

Yes, it’s so fun, because it’s partially for you teachers, because it’s really fun to get like a new little thing every month, like a new little present. And it’s a great deal. But also it’s kind of for us to keep us accountable to keep us going and getting these out to you because Kelsey is like you took so long Tori on the last ones and is agreed. So we’re excited to be doing this growing bundle.

Okay, and the last question and this one, I’m opening myself up even more, I debated whether or not to ask it, but I think our audience will enjoy it. So can you think of an embarrassing story about me that our audience might find hilarious,

Honestly, you were just perfectly poised. Just kidding. I would say off the top of my head, I remember when we used to, was it church or school? I don’t know. But we would park in the same spot was when we were teenagers. You could drive I couldn’t drive yet. And we park in the same spot right in front of a fence where this cute boy would always hop the fence. Yeah, this act like he had just gotten there. Like, oh, hi, nice to see you. We just got here. What a coincidence. But we did it like every time I bet it was completely obvious.

Yep. I remember one time we’re like, Oh, my goodness. has he gotten here? Yeah. And you’re talking about him. And then he had gotten there yet. And he was in back of us. And it was embarrassing. And I think that stopped the whole a charade of parking by the fence.

That’s so funny. And that reminds me so I used to I was a little boy crazy as a teen. And I used to come up with fake names for my crushes you would know who they were. But all of our younger or younger sister Rachel and our step siblings, they wouldn’t know who we were talking about. Because we will make up these fake names in case they happen to like, you know, we just didn’t want them to know the names.

You don’t want them to spoil the secret. But I mean, what would a five year old?

I don’t know that was my logic back then. But I get it. Yeah, it made so much sense at the time. So good.

Oh my goodness. Glad we’re grown out now. Okay. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show. Tori, it was so great to have you and you had such great insight and feedback and even your stories and ways of looking at things. I’m sure our audience absolutely will love this episode. Do you have anything else you would like to share with our audience before you go?

I just want to say thank you. These are our educators who are helping our next generation grow up and learn these skills and move the world forward. I just I don’t think we can thank our teachers enough. So I just want to say thanks.

I agree. Now more than ever, our teachers need all our appreciation and to know that we love and care about them, and we are here to support them in any way we can. Okay, well, thanks for being here, Tori. And to everybody else, make sure to go to the show notes to grab any of those links you would like to the growing bundle or to their original passages or to that freebie you can check out and also if you want to grab your ticket for Educate and Rejuvenate that will be there as well. And then be sure to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss the next episode. See you next week.

More about Wife Teacher Mommy: The Podcast

Being an educator is beyond a full-time job. Whether you’re a teacher or a homeschool parent, the everyday to-do list is endless. Between lesson planning, grading, meetings, and actually teaching, it probably feels impossible to show up for your students without dropping the ball in other areas of your life.

Wife Teacher Mommy: The Podcast is the show that will bring you the teacher tips, practical strategies, and inspiration that you need to relieve the stress and overwhelm of your day-to-day. Your host, Kelsey Sorenson, is a former teacher and substitute turned homeschool mom. Tune in weekly to hear Kelsey and her guests cheer you on and help you thrive as a wife, teacher, and mommy. Because with a little support and community, you can do it all. For access to every single Wife Teacher Mommy resource, join the club at

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Hey there, new teacher bestie! I’m Kelsey, and I created Wife Teacher Mommy just for YOU! I blog about teaching and create elementary school and homeschooling resources to make your life easier. Be sure to sign up for my FREE email newsletter!

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