We had the good fortune of connecting with Kathy Dahdal and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kathy, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
The most important factor behind my success is a growth mindset. A growth mindset has inspired me to set and achieve goals, view my failures as “temporary” setbacks as well as opportunities to learn new lessons, develop, grow, and make progress. Maintaining a growth mindset motivated me to take risks, be patient with myself, and appreciate the “process.” Building Queen’s Educational Resources, my online educational store on Teachers Pay Teachers, one of the most popular online educational resource marketplaces, was not an easy task. I have experienced many challenges and setbacks before my store became what it is today.
A growth mindset helped me to embrace the fact that the challenges and setbacks I faced were simply part of the learning process rather than a judgement of who I am and what I am capable of. I wasn’t born skillful at creating impactful educational materials and content that educators all around the world can use to empower their students to successfully confront, address, and overcome the “real” issues and struggles they face today. I learned it through hard work, a positive mindset, resilience, dedicated effort, and a network of supportive people.
Please tell us more about your career. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I have been a full-time English teacher for 15 years in NYC public schools as well as a Peer Collaborative Teacher – until the pandemic hit and I was placed back in the classroom to teach full time. I currently serve middle school students of all identities and backgrounds in one of the most vibrant, diverse communities in New York City – the Boogie Down Bronx! What led me to where I am today professionally is my strong belief that in order to teach kids important skills, you must first reach them.
This belief turned into a sincere passion for providing students with a wide range of learning experiences that tapped into their social and emotional learning needs and development. My philosophy guided my efforts in creating opportunities for students to establish and maintain positive relationships, understand and manage their emotions in difficult situations, set and achieve goals, improve self and social awareness, develop social skills, feel and show empathy, and make responsible decisions. Creating these opportunities for my own students in the classroom and sharing them with colleagues have led to successful outcomes.
I wanted to share my knowledge and creative ideas with educators all around the world so they, too, can experience these positive outcomes with their own students. I thought a great way to do that would be to create educational resources that focus on students’ social and emotional learning needs and make them accessible in one of the most popular online educational resource marketplaces – Teachers Pay Teachers. This is when and where I began to build my store “Queen’s Educational Resources.” Building my store, Queen’s Educational Resources, was challenging. The main challenge I faced along the way was time management. I had a lot on my plate that I needed to balance and make time for: my teaching job, my family, my store, and the need for self-care and personal growth. I had to dedicate a great deal of time to learning new skills and planning and researching the subject matters that would be used to create meaningful content.
I also needed to develop a clear and accurate understanding of the challenges that students, particularly young teens, are facing today. This valuable insight would ensure that the content I create is relevant and has the potential to foster positive educational and social emotional outcomes. I have spent a lot of time communicating with students and teens, not just in my school, but in various locations, about the issues they are facing. Their personal stories have helped guide my thinking in resource creations, particularly those that tap into their social and emotional needs.
Additionally, I had to dedicate a lot of time to creating rigorous SEL materials in such a way that would meet the needs and interests of diverse learners. In addition to creating resources, I must proofread, edit, and revise each and every single one of them before uploading them in my store, including creating professional, eye-catching product cover pages, learning sale and promotion strategies, updating “old” resources to reflect current issues and learning formats, learning and utilizing appropriate channels to promote my resources, enhancing my skills in technology and other enhanced instructional digital tools, and fostering positive customer relationships. All these processes were very time consuming and required personal sacrifices, effective time management, and a growth mindset! What sets me apart from others are my culturally relevant and highly relatable educational resources. My store includes a wide range of solution-based SEL materials that confront the “real” issues and struggles young teens face.
The resources provide students opportunities to practice and develop essential skills needed to navigate through and overcome these real-life issues successfully. The following buyer reviews (of my resources) reflect what sets my store apart from others: “I loved that I was able to use this resource the day after I purchased it. I was looking for realistic ways to allow students opportunities to reflect and discuss topics that are relevant to their lives. This resource accomplishes this very thing.” – Buyer “All your content is really great, straight forward and extra prep isn’t necessary!” – Buyer “I’m so glad I found this resource! The bundle offers a lot of different resources to approach, teach, and assess self-awareness. It was very easy to use and navigate through not only for myself but for my students. I love that it was relatable to my students therefore they showed more interest.” – Buyer “I love that my junior high and high school students respond to your products so well. The scenarios are typical of what they experience everyday!” – Buyer Two major lessons I have learned along the way is success is a never-ending process. You don’t reach success and stop there. Because challenges never stop, neither does success. It’s just a “way of life.” My goal wasn’t to be successful, but rather to “continue” to be successful. I also learned that surrounding yourself with positive people who challenge and motivate you to become better is a necessary ingredient to continuous growth and success. These are the people who truly have your best interest at heart. The positive people in my life, my mother, my sister Martha, my brother Sam, and few close friends, helped me to stay positive in the face of challenges and adversity.
I didn’t overcome challenges by myself. WE overcame challenges TOGETHER – and that made all the difference. What I want the world to know about Queen’s Educational Resources is that the content and materials have been created with an overwhelming sense of love and desire to truly and genuinely reach kids, support educators, and equip students with valuable tools they need to be a better version of themselves.
My resources are related to essential life skills including, critical thinking, social emotional learning, executive functioning, behavior management, coping strategies, social skills, setting and achieving positive goals, understanding and managing emotions in difficult situations, making responsible social decisions, developing and maintaining positive, healthy, and productive relationships with others, showing empathy, navigating difficult situations, and developing attitudes and values that will help kids and teens be productive, successful individuals.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend was visiting the area and I wanted to show her the best time ever, I would first take her to my favorite spa in Scarsdale, New York – Tranquility Spa – for an extraordinary pampering experience where we can both take time to focus our minds, relax our bodies, “reset,” and reconnect with our inner selves. I would treat her to a full body massage, European facial, manicure, and pedicure!
After a very much needed self-care pampering experience, I would take her to my favorite Asian restaurant, Little Buddha, for some vegetable spring rolls and barbecue rib appetizers, authentic, flavorful sushi rolls, and hot fudge brownie with ice cream and whip cream dessert. After indulging in these favorite foods of ours, I would take her to my mother’s house where she can sit back, relax, be in the presence of good company, engage in fun conversation with my family, and sip on my mother’s famous, authentic Arabic cup of coffee – and play with my two dogs – Max and Samrah!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
A person I want to dedicate my shoutout to is my mother, Laila Dahdal. My mother was a single-parent who fed and raised three children on her own. She sacrificed her own education, so we can earn ours – a selfless act of love. Life for my mother wasn’t easy, and it was through her that I learned the real value of hard work, resilience, and a positive mindset. Her drive and determination to overcome tough circumstances inspired me to do the same in different ways and in various situations.
My mother has influenced and inspired me to plough through challenges, believe that I CAN do the impossible, step out of my comfort zone and take risks, and most importantly, humble myself before GOD and ask Him for help when I need it. My mother’s listening ear, vigilant encouragement, and sound advice were impactful and greatly contributed to my success. Her unconditional love and support have been invaluable. She has always been my biggest cheerleader. I will always remember the countless cups of Arabian coffee she made me to help boost my energy level when creating educational resources at her house! She’d often say, “Don’t stop working, Kathy. You’ll be happy later. I’ll go make you Arabic coffee.” The sound of those words kept me energized and motivated!
Edward Evans Raul Gutierrez Baquero Alina Danilova Aymara Mejia Joy Hearn Keith Hearn