Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Face Off: Should Teachers Pay Teachers Or Share Freely?

Summer is the time that innovative educators reflect on their practice and begin putting in place plans to make their upcoming year better than ever. The big debate at #ISTE2016 this year is which materials they'll use to do that.  

Sparking this debate is @AmazonEdu's Inspire (click here for early access). Amazon announced yesterday that they would use their familiar marketplace look and feel with a search bar, ratings, and reviews to offer teachers a platform where they can access tens of thousands of lesson plans, worksheets, and other instructional materials just in time for the back to school season this August. 
But what does this mean for the more than 2 million teachers who are already paying other teachers for this type of content on the popular Teachers Pay Teachers website where teachers earn money for the materials they've created for the classroom?

If you are Tom Whitby or Steve Anderson, authors of The Relevant Educator Amazon Inspire is on the right track. In their recent talk at #ISTE2016 they shared that they believe relevant educators don't pay each other they share with each other freely. 
On the other side of the debate are educators like Angela Maiers and Vicki Davis.  They believe that when teachers are compensated, they are motivated to create materials that surpass the quality of anything processed by the textbook industry muddle machine. Angela and Vicki explain that when teachers enter the freelance marketplace they work on their own time to transform what they use for the classroom into quality materials with instructions that can be used in the world.  
Note: This image has been updated to comply with accessibility guidelines as outlined at

So, what do you think?  Should educators pay each other or share their genius freely?


Update: It seems it may be a little harder than Amazon anticipated to make teacher materials free on a popular site. The New York Times reports that some of the content was pegged as being for sale on Teachers Pay Teachers. As a result it can not be given away freely. Similarly, Teachers Pay Teachers has had ongoing issues of teachers selling works they don’t have to the rights to. It is understandable, that there may be times that sites have material that violates copyright. Both companies are working on an efficient process to identify and remove such content.

Ultimately, as the dust settles and these industries emerge, copyright will become more clear, fall into place, and in the end teachers will win with a more vetted, higher quality of materials where sources are cited and permissions are granted.  


  1. I think both are perfectly fine, and we should have both opportunities. One concern that I have about creating to sell is that it seems like a few teachers use their class to be a marketing tool. In other words, it appears they are using the kids to sell products. And unfortunately, a cult of other people download others’ work (Both free and paid) and sell it as their own. There ae those who ignore copyright and trademark laws, as well. But over-all, I see the sellers on TPT, working hard to follow the copyright and trademark laws, creating wonderful products for classrooms and contributing freebies, as well.

  2. I think it's fair for both to be on the table. It's a persons perogative to want to be paid for hours of work they put in to creating or to give it to the world for free. Granted, it's up to us as educated consumers to decide if what's being shared in worth the cost. The hours dedicated to crafting lessons, importing media, differentiating your methods is no small feat so charging a small price would not be an unreasonable ask.

    1. With that being said I share my materials openly and don't think I would feel comfortable selling any of it!

  3. I'm fine with teachers sharing freely if that's what they want to do - but personally, I want to be paid for my time and efforts. I spend $20/month on software that allows me to make professional looking products. I spend money getting a native speaker to proofread and edit my products. I spend money on a subscription to a stock graphics site so I can use images that aren't "borrowed" from a source that doesn't allow that. I spend money buying fonts and graphic packages so things will look nice. And most importantly, I spend my TIME making items that other teachers find useful. I could be reading a novel or watching a movie, but I'm researching possible topics, following curriculum changes, learning how to use new technologies and ideas in the classroom and writing reading passages.

    If you want well-done professional resources, you'll have to pay for them. And sadly, this is the sort of area that is similar to group projects in school - you'll have 1-2% of teachers creating products with 98-99% of teachers taking and using them, but never contributing themselves (or contributing things that are minimally useful - because they don't want to spend their TIME creating things that are high-quality!).

    1. P.S. - I find it somewhat ironic that the link to the Relevant Educator goes to the page on Amazon where they SELL their book for $11.95.

    2. I don't. Publishing a book is very different than sharing materials that you use with your students as a part of your job.

    3. Actually, I don't use my TPT materials with my students - specifically to avoid the whole issue of the the district owning my work. It is 100% done on my own time, my own resources. Many TPT teachers do exactly the same thing.

      Bottom line: I don't work for free. It took me time and money to build my skills and knowledge to the point where I can offer quality products. A typical TPT item that I offer for $3 takes me 8-10 hours to complete. Other teachers are certainly welcome to spend the 8-10 hours of their own time if they find it's worth it to save $3. People often don't value that which is free. Nobody expects engineers, doctors, lawyers or other professionals to share their work for free, yet teachers are seen as somehow evil or corrupt for wanting to be paid for their time and expertise. So long as teachers buy into this whole "we should be martyrs and give away our time and knowledge because it's education" we will be seen as lesser than the other professions.

      My salary compensates me for the work I do with my students, period. It does not compensate me for the time I spend in the evenings, on weekends, and in the summer working on things made for TPT. It does not compensate me for making things that other teachers in other districts/states/countries use in their classrooms. That work is in addition to the work I do with my students. They are completely separate.

    4. I find it unfortunate that the your best work that you spend so much time on is not shared with your students. In my district there is no question. Anything you create in your area of employment is considered the employer's intellectual property and you could not be paid without a waiver which you would be unlikely to receive.

      I understand that is not the case in many districts though. I think it is a good point that you make Heather. When we are creating materials for our class, we don't need to put all the scaffolding around it that would be necessary for someone else to use it.

      For example, I might be doing a study and know several strategies to support student learning so I just need to write a few words or sentences down in my plan. For others to use this they would need notes and instructions. Same goes for a presentation where I know what I will say, but for others, I'd have to create notes. Additionally, students or adults may be studying a book and there may be lots of materials teachers create for use with that book that in their class there is a process for students to undertake that the teacher explains, but it is not something that is explained or professionally created.

      In those cases, it seems appropriate for a teacher to be compensated, but as I explained in my previous comment, I feel there should be a compensation model for payment to come from elsewhere, not a teacher.

      All that said, it is a moot point where I work as it is black and white. If it is related to your work, you can't be compensated. However, from what I understand, if an educator in NYC did want to be compensated, they could create something in areas unrelated to their official role. So, for example, a literacy teacher could get paid for speaking about or creating math or social studies materials.

  4. I feel strongly that teachers should take pride in their original ideas and be compensated for them. Our creativity is valuable and we should recognize the worth of our contributions.

    1. Doesn't our salary compensate us for our original ideas and our students and parents recognize our contributions?

    2. Mine doesn't. My salary is dismal. It's like that everywhere in my state. If I want to continue to afford teaching, I have to have a second job. No choice. Why isn't it better for me to find work in my field for my second job? My school doesn't deserve anything extra from me. All it does is cut costs and corners, adding more work to my plate each year and pay me less for doing it. EXPECTING me to provide most of my own supplies. My students do deserve more though, and because of TPT, they get it.

    3. Your school or district may be one that let's you sell what you create as part of your job, but in most districts that is not the case. Also, to clarify, I didn't say working in your field is not better. What I shared is that if we create work as a part of our job, I believe that teachers should share that work. This results in cash-strapped teachers not having to lay their hard-earned money out for materials that help their children succeed.

  5. I've been thinking a lot about this and I think I've come to this conclusion.

    Teachers should NOT pay teachers.

    Corporations should pay teachers and teachers should receive materials at no cost. This could be funded either by generous contributions from donors who support education or from companies selling products via sale of related materials. My guess is that is how Amazon Inspire will generate a profit. There were be free materials with suggestions/advertisements for books and related materials.

    Additionally, districts, not teachers, should pay for materials that teachers generally need to purchase to support their practice and the funding allocation for that should be reasonable, not nominal as it often is.

    Finally, teachers should have a choice to use district purchased materials which most innovative educators find uninspiring or receive a budget to create or buy their own materials.

    1. That is not the world we live in. While, yes, we SHOULD be compensated for our work by corporations and districts, we are not. I barely even get compensated for the work that I do in my classroom (as I haven't received my step in 10 years and I only get $150 to purchase all of the materials that I need, knowing that we will run out of copy paper regardless and that half of our students will not come to school with any supplies). There is no way I will get compensated for anything above and beyond. So if I want to make some extra money for my family by taking my talent and making use of it, then I should be compensated and not judged for it.

      My opinion, is that if you don't want to buy things from other teachers, then don't. But don't judge teachers for trying to earn a little money and respect by offering it. It doesn't make us the enemy.

      We should be a little more respectful of each other and what we need to do to get by in this world.

      I will say that my classroom has become better tenfold since the start of Teachers Pay Teachers. I have purchased many VERY HIGH QUALITY resources from other teachers that are much better than what any publisher has printed in a book and have made my teaching better. It is worth the few dollars that I have given them and I would rather give my money to a hard working teacher than to a corporation with no understanding.

      That being said, we should also be respectful of other's work. We would not be allowed to copy pages from a book and upload them for free. We should not be allowed to take someone's hard work and upload it for free without their consent.

    2. My budget was $125 for the year. The year. For an entire year in fifth grade What was yours?

    3. This idea of free to all is Socialism at it's best.

    4. My budget for the year was $0.

      As a result I have worked very hard in the following ways:
      1) I reach out to non-profit and for-profit partners to provide high-quality, free opportunities for teachers.
      2) I find funding to help educators create materials that can be made available for free for all.
      3) I discover and connect educators to grant and funding sources.
      4) I connect educators who can share and collaborate with each other.
      5) I help and support others freely and in turn they help me.

    5. Socialism advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole. That is something with which our teachers and students are having success. We work with them to create, produce, freely distribute material, and continuously get their input. It's called participatory design. If you are interested, you can read more about that at

  6. It's incredible how this comes up year after year. I'm not at ISTE this year, but by pushing for free materials for teachers, we not only devalue the work teachers do (similar to what Heather said above) but also the work developers are doing to **create** those tools.

    I wrote about it more at length this week:

    I'd be curious to hear your thoughts.

    1. I meant to include a link to Gary Stager's post about free software and the danger it holds.

      He echoes some of my thoughts but his historical perspective on the use of computers in schools adds context to the discussion.

    2. Brian,

      It's no surprise to anyone that there are times I disagree with Gary. This is one of them. We've debated on this topic for example around my belief that Google Apps for Ed and Chromebooks are the right tools for students and teachers.

      I read your post on the topic. It is a thoughtful and thought-provoking piece. I encourage others to hop over to Brian's blog and read what he wrote. It also helped me to further develop my thinking on the topic which I shared as a comment on your blog.

    3. I don't think I've ever played blog ping pong like this...thanks for sharing your thoughts on my post. A couple other thoughts:

      1. I've been a beneficiary of the materials you've created and I appreciate the time and energy you put into that work. I also share your push to contribute to the body of resources available to educators online, for free, simply because I've benefited from others making the same decisions.

      2. There is no real true analog to teachers creating materials and then selling them to other professions. I know I drew analogies to software companies, which isn't perfect because the company exists due to the work of the developers. I think something more in line with the discussion here is a developer working independently on an app on their own time. It's related to their work and others might benefit enormously from a free program, but that developer isn't in the wrong to charge a fee for that work.

      3. I think there is an as-yet unstated role of privilege in all of this. You and I can afford to give materials away (no judgement there at all) but another teacher, with an eviscerated budget and bottom-tier compensation who uses their talents to create materials to then sell. The same could be said for the Etsy community - many are stay-at-home parents who make stuff for their own kids and then turn around and sell that same product. I don't think it's wrong for teachers to make similar decisions.

      4. I appreciate the example you gave from NYC. I also agree that companies should be making philanthropic contributions to schools and I've also benefited from organizations that have done so. I'd also like to see schools be more okay with reaching out to companies for partnerships and private grants. But, the bureaucratic hurdles in place need to come down a little more readily.

  7. I agree with you, Lisa, teachers should share freely. Two reasons: 1) *teachers* paying teachers is my problem with that system and 2) sharers benefit from something akin to karma.

    1) *teachers* paying teachers is the problem
    While I agree with Heather that she has expenses in production and should be compensated for them AND her expertise, my concern is the expectation that teachers should be footing this bill. I know I'm not going to dismantle the system that works for the benefit of local school systems, but heck, I don't have to participate in it, do I?

    2) sharers benefit from something akin to karma
    An alternative way to fall in love with sharing freely is this -- I get way more benefit than I put in. Twitter friends/colleagues help me iterate through new assignment designs, blog readers offer feedback on everything I publish, and folks almost always share back with the new ideas they've built on mine. Bottom line: I get more than I give. I lose that when I become a vendor to my teacher friends.

    I'm a member of an online community of math teachers, many of whom are on the "share freely" side. I even blogged about it here:

    Thanks to you (and apparently ISTE) for sparking this conversation. We need to keep having it among educators. --Megan in Atlanta

  8. Outsourcing Educational materials to corporations is a slippery slope. There is a high chance (60%+) that it comes form Pearsons or a sub. They produce 60% of edu resources.

    If I spend time creating something, my IP has some value. If others find it valuable then there should be some form of compensation - for some that is the satisfaction of sharing, for others that might be $$, for others it may be recognition.

  9. I share my work freely and I don't feel that results in my work losing value. I do it to make teachers jobs easier so students can succeed. My employer pays me to do work which includes teaching and creating materials. I have already been compensated for that and I appreciate being able to support others and that others support and help me as well.

  10. I completely agree except that what you create and what most of us create goes beyond our "compensation" in terms of both financial outlay and time. That said, I also completely agree that I am compensated once and then can share freely.

  11. What about teachers being models for our student classrooms? Does this mean that the student who puts together the higher quality review sheet should be able to sell it to the other students?

    1. Students don't get paid for attending school. Teachers do. It's not the same.

      That said, I think it would be great if a student found a way to publish and be compensated for their work. I think it would be wonderful if a teacher helped students to do that.

      I featured a student named Alex Laubscher (use the search feature on my blog if you're interested) who did just that.

  12. I think teachers should be solopreneurs if they want to in the summer and be able to create and sell work for use in classrooms. I think it brings more value to the world than teachers taking other non teaching jobs to bring in other income. Plus some districts buy teachers tpt gift cards to buy what they want. I don't understand what teachers have to leave the classroom in order to generate income from creating classroom materials.

    1. Agree Vicki. Thank you for your insights here and in helping me think through the writing of this piece. It would be so much better if teachers where I work could be "solopreneurs.” I would love if they could use their knowledge to create amazing materials over the summer that they could sell. Unfortunately, at this point our district won't allow it. I have seen policies change over the years, but teachers would need to speak up for that to happen. I hope they will.

      I love your idea of districts buying gift cards. Districts should cover the cost of materials, not pass that on to cash-strapped teachers.

  13. I feel like Im reading an old post about the Napster days. Of course teachers should be able to get paid if they want to. If other teachers want to give out free handouts then so be it. I'm sure you get paid for blogging and running this blog. Or do you do it just to help others? I think having choices and being able to make your own decision is what is best.

    1. The things you are sure about and the analogies you make are off grad student. You are sure I get paid for blogging and running this blog? Nope. I don't.

      Your Napster analogy is also flawed. Music listeners wanted music for no cost. Whether that is right or wrong is debatable. What I share in the article is VERY different. I say that teachers shouldn't get paid for the materials they are already paid to produce to use with their students. I also say that if teachers need materials to do their job, they shouldn't have to pay for them.

      You believe having choices and being able to make your own decision is what is best. Sometimes yes. But when taxpayers fund public schools and those teachers are paid to do a job that includes creating lessons and materials, they do not own that intellectual property according to many districts. Selling the goods taxpayers fund, is not allowed or ethical. I maintain we shouldn't empower people to make unethical decisions on the backs of taxpayers.

    2. Formerly the (Grad Student)
      Well, you may not get paid directly from this blog but this blog definitely contributes to getting paid. Is that worded better? Or am I still off? Lets face it, ordering books and booking seminars from this blog is a way of getting paid. You have created a tremendous blog with innovative information that applies to teaching professionals. You should get paid and you should be proud of your efforts.

      I feel that Napster is a great analogy. Im a musician that gets paid for the music I create. Now you want me to hand out free concert tickets and free t shirts. I don't think so. The music I created or the lesson plans I create are mine. If I want to share them I do. If I want to charge a fee for them I will. They are mine, I created them.

      I am a public school teacher and I get paid to teach kids. I don't get paid for the lesson plans that I create. I get paid if my students are successful. I have never been asked how many lesson plans I have created. I do get asked all the time what my students test scores are. I understand that some districts think the lessons are public. I also understand that some districts do not. I understand your point of view, can you understand mine?

    3. Rachel,
      As I said in other responses, any work I get paid for outside my day job is work NOT related to the work I do in for full time employment. That said, as I responded to Vicki Davis and others, I believe the work we do as part of our job should be shared. If you do work on your own, and you want to be compensated, that is great. Better is if teachers are not the ones paying for the materials to do their jobs as in the examples I have shared in other responses.

      I don't believe the Napster analogy is valid. Unlike teachers like me who chose to share materials freely, the artists on Napster did not make that choice.

      You say in your role you are not paid to create instructional materials. That may be unique to where you work, but where I and others work, we often create materials. If I use them in my work, I share them in their original form so they can be used as is or re-purposed. I do this so that those I teach can teach others and so students will ultimately benefit.

      I appreciate the insights you've shared as they have helped me and I'm sure others think more deeply about this important topic.

    4. This argument that we should only get paid for work outside of our workplace if it's NOT related to our job role is ludicrous. If a doctor works for a hospital and also does house calls on the weekend, is the doctor going to do those house calls for free because they are related to his primary job role? Of course not. Imagine the waiting list he'd have for new patients! That's a ridiculous argument.

    5. You may think it is ludicrous and a ridiculous argument, but in NYC and other districts that is their IP policy.

    6. Just because NYC does something, doesn't mean it's right, acceptable, or the way things should be. Just because NYC teachers can't make extra money in their free time doesn't mean all other teachers shouldn't either. That just sounds like sour grapes.

    7. What about the thousands of teachers who do tutoring outside of school hours to earn extra money? If I teach third grade and tutor a third grader on the weekends, should I not get paid? I'm certainly using knowledge gained from my job for that.

      Why is it that teachers are expected to give away their personal time for free? I can't think of any other profession that is held in this regard. I am not a servant to my job or to my district during my off hours and to be honest, anyone who would sign a contract to that effect is an idiot.

    8. The flaw in your argument is assuming that all teacher-authors are paid by school districts. Many teacher-authors are full-time curriculum designers. They are not paid by any school, and the materials they publish no more belong to anyone but themselves than the materials published by McGraw-Hill. Many teachers who ARE in schools are NOT paid to create curriculum. In fact, for most of my career, teachers in our area were explicitly forbidden to create their own lessons - they were expected to teach with fidelity the materials provided to them, written by corporate textbook publishers. If those teachers spend their summers writing curriculum, that curriculum is theirs to do with as they please. Their expertise and knowledge is valuable in the greater world, just as a plumber or doctor or business executive. Being a teacher does not automatically strip one of the dignity of possessing knowledge and expertise that they may share with others in the same way many others have done when deriving financial support from publishing and speaking fees.

    9. ==Just because NYC teachers can't make extra money in their free time doesn't mean all other teachers shouldn't either.==

      ==What about the thousands of teachers who do tutoring outside of school hours to earn extra money? ==
      In NYC you can't tutor student from your school, however, what I indicated in my comments was unrelated to this. I said if you do something as part of your job, then I believe it should be shared.

    10. ==The flaw in your argument is assuming that all teacher-authors are paid by school districts. ==

      I never stated that.

      ==Being a teacher does not automatically strip one of the dignity of possessing knowledge and expertise that they may share with others in the same way many others have done when deriving financial support from publishing and speaking fees.==
      I never stated that. Simply that in districts like mine it is not allowed.

  14. "I say that teachers shouldn't get paid for the materials they are already paid to produce to use with their students."

    This is a fundamental part of your argument, and I feel like it is flawed. First off, "lesson planning" and "curriculum writing" are vastly different. Lesson planning, for a simple definition, involves gathering your activities and materials (not creating them), determining the appropriate sequence, and determining objectives and best practices you will use to meet those objectives. Curriculum writing, by contrast, involves actually creating the materials and activities to use in the lesson, determining which fundamental skills students must master in order to meet standards and designing methods and strategies to aid that mastery and meet those standards. There's so much more to it, but curriculum writing is vastly more complex than simply lesson planning.

    I don't know about your teaching contract, but mine does NOT include curriculum writing or materials design anywhere in the job duties for a teacher. It mentions planning and delivering lessons, but it DOES NOT include curriculum design as a part of a teacher's expected duties. Nor is there time in my day provided for curriculum writing or creating materials, like there is for lesson planning and other duties specifically mentioned in my contract.

    But, as educators, we all know that district-provided textbooks, materials, and curriculum are often not adequate. They provide little in the way of differentiation for English language learners or SpEd students (many time in teacher guides I see 2-3 sentences outlining a very generic strategy rather than a solid, research based method or strategy), and often they are severely lacking in substance. The fact is that at some point, we are going to have to supplement that- either with materials that come from another source, materials that we purchase, or something we borrow from another teacher. (cont)

  15. (cont from above) As an ESOL specialist, I work solely with ELLs. When I started my teaching career, there were literally NO high-quality materials for the intermediate ELLs I was instructing. I searched high and low on the internet, finding TONS of free materials that also weren't right. Even spent some money on Scholastic books that still didn't fit the bill. So I started creating my own- tons of extra hours after school daily to create what I needed for the next day. Added so much stress and made time even more scarce for a brand-new teacher.

    As I said above, "curriculum writing" and "materials creation" is not included in my contract- and I think you would agree that curriculum writing differs vastly from lesson planning. With 40 minutes in the day for "planning", and working with three different grade levels and 5 different proficiency levels, there's certainly no TIME to do "curriculum writing" during my paid duty hours- I barely had time for lesson planning, and that was when there weren't meetings scheduled during our "planning" time. This means that any and all curriculum I wrote (and I basically wrote my entire, year long newcomer and intermediate ELL RELA curriculum- not just lesson plans, but creating all the accompanying materials, writing reading passages at the appropriate levels, designing assessments) was done at home on my own time IN ADDITION to my contractual duties of planning and delivering a lesson. Why shouldn't I be compensated for that hard work? And does your teaching contract actually cover "curriculum design" as you claim?

    While your teaching salary might meet all your needs, not all of us are so lucky. Some of the teachers on TpT are using their income to pay for medical treatments that are not covered by insurance for family members, others are working to pay off student loans that eat up more than 30% of their teaching income, some are using their earnings to pay fees for a long-awaited adoption. I could go on and on and on, but without the option to sell their materials, many of these people would likely have also had to leave teaching to make these things happen.

    Either way, your fundamental argument seems to include the assumption that ALL teacher contracts include curriculum design, and ALL teachers are paid adequately for their work as teachers, and that's simply not the case. In a perfect world, your idea sounds great, but it's merely fantasy when you look at the reality of our world and educational system.

  16. (cont from above) As a brand-new teacher, I would have HAPPILY paid a few bucks here and there to an actual teacher who had already done the hard part and created something that I could actually use in my classroom. The publishers certainly weren't providing it, and neither was the district. I could have had a much less stressful year that first year! Having done it, I respect the time and hard work that went into creating that activity or lesson and believe the person who created it should absolutely be compensated.

    The fact is that teachers do have to dip into our own pockets to buy materials for our classrooms. All the "free" stuff in the world just won't cut it sometimes. I'd rather support a real teacher like myself- someone in the front lines who has created a tried-and-true resource than a publisher whose curriculum writers may never have managed a classroom.

  17. What about retired teachers, stay at home moms, ex teachers, authors, university professors who create content? Not all sellers are currently in the classroom. Many make this their livelihood.

    1. Teachers should share the work they do as part of their job with each other. Someone who is not teaching and decides to make education materials is not what I, or Steve, or Tom were referring to.

      I also don't think it is appropriate to ask teachers to pay for the materials needed to do their jobs most effectively.

    2. "I also don't think it is appropriate to ask teachers to pay for the materials needed to do their jobs most effectively."

      While I agree teachers shouldn't spend as much as we do, I do think that it's an unrealistic expectation that they shouldn't have to pay for any materials. When I was a cocktailer and bartender, I had to buy my own pens, aprons, wine tool, etc. My husband does construction and has to buy his own hammer and basic tools to supplement the tools provided by his employer and so he can work faster. A lawyer buys reference books and materials to supplement those provided by an employer. Almost any profession has some expense for the professional.

    3. Deborah Hayes, exactly. I am a stay at home mom who is taking a few years off of teaching to raise my kids. Instead of watching TV at night while they sleep, I create. I pay for software, I spend hours of time making my materials awesome, and I certainly don't do all of this for free. I do it because I want to have amazing materials for myself when I go back to work in a few years and I do it to pay for my son's preschool, medical bills, and groceries. Essentially, I run my own independent self online publishing company. I work really hard to follow all copyright & trademark laws. I wish the same could be said about Amazon.

      I do agree that teachers shouldn't have to pay for their own materials. I wish all districts gave teachers some money to buy what they need (from TPT or wherever they can get quality materials) but we all know that doesn't happen in the vast majority of school districts. In our country, teachers are given hardly any time to prepare their own materials. The textbooks are subpar, and that's being generous. If a teacher wants to spend $10 on a whole unit's worth of activities that it would take them weeks to create, then the teacher will do it! I wish the school district would. Some school districts do give teachers money for TPT. More should!

      All the teachers I know who create resources to sell on Teachers Pay Teachers work really hard on their own classrooms. They don't give their classes less because they're using their time on Teachers Pay Teachers. They give their classes WAY more, because the skills they pick up from running their own private publishing company (which is essentially what being a Teachers Pay Teachers seller is) helps them to make their own classroom materials even better.

    4. I certainly agree that teachers should not have to pay for their teaching materials themselves! However, that's not the world we live in. Over the years, I bought many supplemental sets of blackline master worksheets (and map puzzles, and math manipulatives, bulletin board supplies and much more!) from my local teacher supply store because the mandated curriculum given to me was not adequate. Now those blackline masters have been replaced with engaging resources created by people on or close to the front lines. I spend no more than I always have, but the supplemental activities are far better for my students!

      In addition, many teachers in our area now receive $200-300 a year to spend on their classrooms. Many of them are spending it all on teacher-created resources, and their teaching is better for it.

  18. I'm wondering how many years you worked as a classroom teacher. I see librarian and I see admin for NYC public schools. Have you been a classroom teacher?

    1. In my district librarians are teachers. The official title is teacher of the library. I have worked in various capacities as a teacher of the library, literacy coach, tech coach, staff developer, and more. In my current role I have the pleasure of having public school pedagogues as the students I teach, and people I work with and support.

  19. Given the writers complete lack of experience as an actual classroom teacher (zero according to her own bio) I regard her opinion as useful as a chocolate teapot.

    1. I've been a public school educator since 1997. Much of that time in the classroom teaching or coaching teachers and I started my career as a teacher of library. I have also given away thousands of materials I have created as part of the work I do.

    2. Public school educator does not mean public school classroom teacher and we all know they are very different things. I would venture to say your compensation is very different than a classroom teacher. Opinions like yours come very easily from someone who has never been in the classroom or has been out of the classroom for many years. No matter how much you coach, mentor, or even teach a lesson every now and again, it is not the same as the weight of responsibility and lack of respect many classroom teachers face these days.

    3. I am a teacher. My students are adults. I work with teachers every day to support the work they do. I share the materials I create freely with the world. My compensation is not very different from classroom teachers with my experience. I treat the teachers with whom I am involved with the utmost respect and they do the same with me.

    4. You continue to say you give your things freely, but it's just not the case if you are charging for your books. Do you charge a fee for your speaking engagements or do you do those for free? Do you charge school districts for PD that you provide? I'm not doubting your knowledge or contribution to education but it seems very hypocritical to say classroom teachers should give everything away for free when you don't. I looked at the dates your books were published and your job at the time according to LinkedIn and they seem very related. I also doubt your previous reply that you get no monetary gain from this blog. It seems like you took the stink raised over Amazon inspire's poor choice to use copyright violations in its launch and used it to throw fuel on the fire for your own advantage to write a blog post you knew would get a reaction. Your credibility would shine more brightly if your answers were more honest.

    5. Aliza, you are saying it's not the case that I give content to teachers freely? Do you realize you are reading an article on a blog with nearly 2000 posts and you aren't paying for it or being bombarded with ads? Regardless, this blog is "not" a part of my job. I share it because it is helpful for me and those who read it.

      As far as attacking my honesty, you are going after the wrong person and personal attacks are truly unbecoming of an educator. You are critical that I used an important topic at the conference I was at to write a blog post that people would react to. Yes. I did. I share topics that are important to educators on this blog. Not sure where you are going with the evil in that or the insinuation that I am paid to do so. I am not.

      As far as your detective work about books I have written, you continue to be wrong. The books I spent my own time writing were about using strategies and technology that were not used in NYC public schools.

      Rather than trying to uncover something from a fellow educator that is not there, your time may be better spent supporting your colleagues.

  20. I'm also confused, given your opinion on this matter, why you chose to publish and SELL your books vs. giving away your stuff for free since in one of your comments, you noted... "All that said, it is a moot point where I work as it is black and white. If it is related to your work, you can't be compensated." How are you able to be compensated for your books?

    1. The topics in my books are unrelated to the work I do or did at the time of writing.

    2. I make teacher resources from home. I am no longer in the classroom. I have been unable to walk for the last two years. I have been a teacher for twenty-six years and I am highly qualified and certified. So why should I work and give it away for free. This is my livelihood you are attacking, and I know I am not the only one. This makes my blood boil. I usually do not speak out, but I have to now, because you are trying to take my means of income and survival. I think you need to think about it a little harder!

    3. Hi Deborah. I am sorry that you are misinterpreting what I and others have shared. I am referring to sharing the work teachers have created to use as a part of their job.

      If a teacher decides to make a job out of creating materials outside their regular duties that is another story. As I mentioned above, our district pays teachers to do this and then provides the materials they create freely to others. It is a smart model that is a win/win.

  21. I agree with Alisa. I see no distinction between writing and selling a book about teaching and writing and selling a teaching unit. Your argument that it is not related to what you were doing for work at the time is weak at best, not to mention rife with hypocrisy. So, either you were writing about something unrelated to what you actually do (which diminishes credibility), or it's ok for teachers to create and sell things as long as they are unrelated to their work at the time of creation, or you're simply a hypocrite. Why should teachers be the ones to buy your books? Should heir districts buy it for them, since it would be a tool for bettering their job performance? You're equally as guilty from profiting off the teachers who have purchased the books you've written as the TpT teachers you're calling out and judging for selling their materials. And yet you talk about "moral obligations". If you really believed that line, you wouldn't charge for books or consulting.

    1. Let me help you understand the distinction Mrs. J. In many districts anything you create that is used for the work you do is considered the intellectual property of your employer.

      In the case of books that I've written, they are on topics that were completely unrelated to my job, never used as a part of my job, and worked on them in my own time. That said, as I have indicated previously, if you are creating work on your own that is not a part of your work for your employer, that "legally" falls into another category.

      As far as who buys books I write, districts often provide funding for professional materials to support teacher growth. That is the ideal structure.

      As far as me be "guilty" of something, as I explained, I am referring to what teachers create as a part of my job. In many districts the teachers don't own that material and many, like me, do freely share the materials we create as part of our jobs to support teachers and children.

    2. I believe I above addressed your faulty assumption that all teachers are required to write curriculum and design materials as part of their contractual duties, and are compensated for doing so. So again, you are basing your arguments on a faulty assumption.

      When I was teaching 4th grade ELLs, I was creating and selling middle school materials based on my previous position in another district. When I was teaching primary ELLs, I was creating and selling materials for intermediate grades. The materials I was creating were created on my own time, equipment and software and not related to my job in the least. Yet, you want me to give it away for free?

      What about educators who are retired or out of the classroom to raise families or care for handicapped spouses? Why shouldn't they be compensated for their time or expertise?

      The fact is, even based on your own arguments, there is no distinction between you writing and selling a book that is not related to the scope of your job using your expertise gained through education, experience and research and me creating and selling materials not related to the scope of my job on my own time using the expertise I've cultivated. Everyone deserves compensation for their work.

      Additionally, if you check out TpT, you'll see that many sellers have a large percentage of free items that they share freely with teachers. Many also have blogs in which they freely share wisdom, strategies and advice. These teachers truly want to make other teachers lives easier, and they deserve to be compensated for those efforts.

      Yes, teachers buy my materials (how morally reprehensible of me!). However, myself, and other sellers I know use a portion of the profits we make to give back to classrooms by buying materials, donating to projects on donors choose, and using those profits in other worthy ways to help our fellow teachers. I often am approached and freely donate materials to teachers who are leading PD in their schools. When Hurricane Sandy came through, a group of us got together and created a storehouse of thousands of digital materials in many subjects and grade levels that we freely donated to teachers who lost everything in their classrooms. We also connected retired or out-of-classroom teachers with hard goods to teachers who needed those. So, sure, teachers buy our materials. But it's not all greed and personal gain- we do it so we can give back, too.

      Rather than lumping as all into a blanket category, labeling us as morally deficient because we don't meet some "moral obligation" you (and others) have made up, why not take the time to learn about the people who do this, find out how and why they do it? Find out how they use the proceeds from the items the sell? When and how they create and design the items they sell? Become informed about the other side. Then if you still find us morally deficient, you can at least form arguments based on fact rather than assumption.

    3. Nope, Mrs. J. My assumption is not faulty. What I and others are referring to is sharing the materials that we create as part of our jobs. If you create it as part of your job, it was created as part of the work and intellectual property of your employer as is the law in many states. I believe this work should be shared freely and that is what I do.

      The topics of my books and expertise gained were in no way related to my job or the work I did for my employer nor did I work on this during my work hours.

      You are getting quite defensive about my belief that teachers shouldn't have to pay for the materials required for their job. While you are welcome to advocate having teachers spend their own money to do their jobs, I encourage models where they don't have to. I am happy to have been able to support teachers where I work in both being paid for creating materials outside the school day and then making those materials free to each other and the world. It's a win/win.

      As far as learning about the people who do this and how they do it, I am well aware and basing what I believe on fact. After researching this first hand, I still believe we should not sell the work we do as part of our jobs. More and more districts are enforcing this as well and like in NYC they are cracking down because it is not legally allowed.

    4. Your assumption is faulty because you're assuming that every teacher on TpT is selling work they do in the course of their job. That is simply not the case. I have given you clear evidence of this from personal experience and discussions with other teacher-authors- you simply choose to ignore it because you can't argue against it.

      As far as my supposed "advocation" for teachers to pay for their own materials? You're purposely twisting my words. The fact is that teachers DO have to pay for materials they need for their jobs. Would it be great if they didn't? Absolutely. But it's simply not reality (and also not the case for most jobs). So, for those in the real world, who don't get money from their districts to buy what they need to help their students succeed, I offer resources that save them time, that work, and that have been tested in hundreds of classrooms- and that are far more reasonably priced than they can get elsewhere. Free is free for a reason- which is why I started on this journey of creating materials long before I ever heard of TpT.

      You'd like to hold yourself above us and pretend that what you do is different, but it's not, Ms. Nielsen. You are just like the rest of us, hoping to leverage your knowledge and expertise to make some money off this whole big educational machine. So yours comes in the form of consulting and writing books, mine comes in the form of leading PD and selling curricular materials. We both do it outside the course of our jobs and contractual obligations, but you still want to pretend you're different, "above", better. If that helps you sleep at night, then keep selling yourself the grand delusion.

      I'd also like to know, Ms. Nielsen, do you think artists should be compensated for the works that they create? How about the companies that hire them to create those works? I see that the image you used in your blog post was ripped from, and you used the "buy" and "sell" boxes to cover the watermark. You didn't entirely succeed though, because the watermark is still visible on the cuffs. This Ms. Nielsen, is called copyright infringement, and not only is it very bad form, it's illegal. If you want to preach to others about "moral obligations" maybe you should re-examine your own morals first. I'm pretty sure ripping off an artist's work qualifies as immoral.

    5. No. I am not assuming every teacher on TpT is selling work they do in the course of their job. Please re-read.

      As far as living in a real world where teachers have to use their own money to do their jobs effectively, yes this does exist. It doesn't mean I support it. It doesn't mean I haven't had success in changing that when I can for teachers with whom I have the pleasure of working.

      You say free is free for a reason. Whether materials are free or paid they can be high or low quality. It depends on the source. The materials teachers I work with create are available free and vetted by teachers and students across the system.

      I'm not pretending about anything. I provide the work I do as part of my job freely. If I do work outside of my job, I will, at times, receive payment for that work.

      Should artists be paid? Sure. But if someone commissions them to do work, the person commissioning them owns the work. They can't then take that same piece and sell it to others. It is illegal and not their intellectual property.

      As far as the image that I used, it was re-mixed and not used for monetary advancement, but rather for the purpose of freely sharing ideas and supporting teachers.

      Mrs. J, you definitely have a battle, but you're going after the wrong enemy.

      I wish you well and hope you and the several thousand other educators who enjoy all the free material I publish here and elsewhere continue to be able to use what I've shared to develop their practice and support children.

    6. "As far as the image that I used, it was re-mixed and not used for monetary advancement, but rather for the purpose of freely sharing ideas and supporting teachers."

      This item is not sold or shared under a creative commons license allowing you to remix it. Whether you use it personally or commercially, for free or for whatever purpose, the artist (and/or the company that hired the artist to create the work) deserves to be compensated. You are openly violating copyright law by using that image. The watermark is on it for a reason- because the artist didn't intend it to be "remixed" and used for your purposes.

    7. Now that I'm not on the road, I have time and access to other images. I've replaced the original with one that indeed works better.

  22. I totally agree with Lisa Davis and Angela Maiers. Jessica Hamilton and Deborah are right on about selling quality products. As a retired teacher, the online educational marketplaces have given me an opportunity to compensate my retirement income. I have never seen such quality resources that are posted on these websites and most educators and former educators are specialists in their fields. Educators are sometimes paid to speak and write books, why not be paid for their educational products? (This why teachers don't get paid much! Everyone expects them to give everything away!)

    1. Not quite sweet integrations. What I am referring to in the post is sharing freely the work teachers do as part of their jobs. This is not allowed in many districts. This makes sense to me. You already created something to help children. You are compensated by your employer. Why not share what you have created with others to help them and their students?

    2. Lisa, as I read your posts, I'm coming to understand that you have a specific point in mind - that teachers who are specifically paid to create curriculum by their district should freely share that curriculum.

      In my experience, this is true and to be expected. On the one occasion when my district asked me to create curriculum over the summer, I was paid an extra stipend for that work and I knew that material was "work for hire" and did not belong to me, but to the district. The stipend was because it was clear to all that my regular job description did not include writing curriculum.

      I would like to request that you clarify what you mean more precisely when choosing the language to use in your argument - if you truly don't mean that all teachers should give all of their curriculum writing away for free.

      "Teachers" come in many stripes, work in many varied situations, create curriculum under many different circumstances. The majority do not work for districts that pay them to create curriculum. It is great that you have such a district. But that's the exception, not the rule.

      You are painting all teachers with far too broad a brush: "No teacher should be paid for their curriculum writing." When I retired after 40 years as a teacher (someone who happily shared everything I could with all of my colleagues down the hall) I had some soul-searching to do about my new identity. Should I? Could I? still call myself a teacher? The answer turned out to be YES. In fact, I discovered that I could be nothing else. I was and would always be a Teacher. So for you to say "Teachers should give everything they create to other teachers" does not apply to me, according to your comments. It also doesn't apply to a great many of my colleagues who are writing curriculum, but are no longer in the classroom, but who also are still "Teachers."

      You use this broad brush in your headline and in your arguments. I hope that you'll consider stating your arguments more precisely, if you truly are only referring to some teachers, not all. Thank you for considering this point.

    3. Have you ever taught? Trust me, they are NOT compensated by their employers. They are paid a little over minimum wage in most states, one you figure in the countless hours they spend outside of school. Try a little reality, sweetheart.

    4. Reading by Heart,
      You use quotes to indicate my point of view saying:
      ==You are painting all teachers with far too broad a brush: "No teacher should be paid for their curriculum writing." ==

      I never said or wrote that.

      You also say:
      ==You use this broad brush in your headline==

      No. I don't. I ask a question for readers to respond to:
      ==Should Teachers Pay Teachers Or Share Freely?==

    5. Yes Taralynn Smith I have taught for nearly 20 years in our largest school districts and I have also worked with teachers across the globe. I'm quite connected to reality. If there is something specific I said that you think is unrealistic, I invite you to point that out so we can have intelligent discourse rather than snarky comments that have no basis.

  23. I have been thinking about this concept a lot over the past few days after reading this post. I am a fourth grade math teacher in a district that does not provide any set curriculum for me to follow, rather a timeline of the standards to ensure that by the end of the year I have taught everything. This is a challenging situation to be put in as the sole fourth grade math teacher at my school who just moved up from second grade. I have used sites like TPT and Pinterest to help me develop my ideas and curriculum this year. In the beginning of the year I depended on TPT products to help me get started in a grade that I knew little about in a school with little support. I did not mind paying for items because they were of high quality and they helped me build a foundation for the year. As I learned more about the curriculum and became comfortable developing more of my own resources, my dependence lessened, however, I still used resources from others to help me build my 4th grade curriculum.

    When thinking about the question "should teachers pay teachers or share freely?" I do not think there is a yes or no answer. Teachers who take the time to make such high quality products that are aligned to the common core and visually attractive for students, should get to decide whether or not they want to share freely or post on a site like Teachers Pay Teachers. While I spend my free time and summers planning, I do not take excessive amounts of time to make my lessons and products look professionally done. If I were to give up more of my time to do this and people were interested in using my products, I would definitely consider putting a price on them because that is precious time away from my family and personal life.

    As an educator, I believe in sharing ideas and best practices freely because our mission as teachers is to best serve our students. However, the lines blur when work is happening outside of school time to make products that are professional looking and of high quality.

  24. You say, "I also don't think it is appropriate to ask teachers to pay for the materials needed to do their jobs most effectively."

    Teacher-Authors are not ASKING teachers to pay for the materials needed to do their jobs most effectively. They are simply making those materials available. If teachers don't find these materials relevant or necessary, they won't buy them. If an underpaid teacher believes their students' need is so great for materials that are NOT (but should be!) provided by their school district that they're willing to pay out of pocket, that's not the fault of teacher-publishers. Many schools are moving toward purchasing teacher-designed curriculum because teachers are recognizing that these products better meet the needs of their students than publishers' textbooks. These products are professionally made and can compete with giant publishers because of the extreme effort and expense being made by teacher-author-self-publishers.

    It's clear that you must not be an elementary classroom teacher if you're not aware that teachers already - and have for the 40+ years I've been an educator - spend enormous sums of their own money on their classrooms.

    1. Reading by Heart,
      I have served as an elementary school teacher, coach, and staff developer. I am aware that teachers spend money on their classrooms. I work very hard to change that for the teachers I work with. Just because "something is" so doesn't mean it is right nor does it mean we shouldn't work to make things better.

  25. It is a rarity when I sit and read a whole blog post and the comments attached to it lately.

    The arguments here are - teachers should just be given everything they need to do their job effectively and works created for the education of the students in your classroom should be given freely for the greater good of education.

    Sure in a perfect world. In that perfect world teachers are not also not near the bottom of the pay scale.

    It is different in my world. Many preschools are not attached to school districts. Our pay is even lower. I was with a "Learning Academy" and the owner said -- here is the curriculum. This is what you are to use, everything you need is right here.

    That was the worst situation to be in. As Mrs. J said, Free is Free for a reason. This was supposed to be a researched, working curriculum. It was dull, boring and not doing it's job.

    I taught 4's and 5's when they left me they were going to Kindergarten. These kids could BARELY speak English. There was no way this curriculum was helping them get ready for Kindergarten. I started taking what the curriculum teaching and adding what my class needed to learn. I was designing extra activities and lessons. Play-based ways to learn to engage the whole brain. I was told, "That is not the curriculum you are doing too much."

    I was given everything I needed to do my job according to my boss. It doesn't always work.

    I went to a different "learning center" where I was given nothing except a list of "This is what we expect when they leave this room." I was guided to the resources they had and "Here are some great sites where you can get more." I had to learn my kids, find what they needed and go from there.

    I have been on both sides of this first argument. If I were to choose I would ONLY take the one where everything was given to me if it was actually effective. I think there is something to be said for being able to meet the needs of your children, creating what you need for them -- and it sets a good example of being a life long learner.

    As for -- if you created it for your job than it belongs to your job. If that is what your contract says, then that is what your contract says. I like most other sellers on TPT don't/didn't use work time or work resources to create our resources. Since it is my computer, my resources, my time -- it's mine, even if I choose to use it for my class.

    I have since left the classroom and I am a designer, author and artist and expect to be compensated.

    Like many of the sellers on TPT we want students to do well and want teachers to have more time. I choose to leave the themes I created with my last administrator. She also knows that they are mine and I sell them. (That is actually why she hired me, she knew I created quality teaching resources.) I reached out to my daughter's kindergarten teachers and told them if they wanted anything from my store to let me know they can have it. I will be doing the same thing for my son.

    In fact I was just contacted by a teacher telling me about her district and asked I could donate anything to her class and I did. I have no problem with that.

    My problems come in when people think that the time I spend away from my family working is less valuable than the time you spend away from yours working. Amazon wants us to just give it all away. Amazon is telling us that all authors are not created equal. Like you I am an author and I deserve to get paid for my time.

  26. It seems that the whole concept of Open Educational Resources is being ignored in this thread. If content becomes free to use, then the obligation to pay for creating content falls on those that choose to create. Governments and coalitions of schools will make the best funding sources for content creation / curation. If an individual chooses to create something and sell it they will have a much higher bar for quality and accessibility.
    This issue depends first on who pays for content, and secondly who gets paid.

    Here's a model that is likely to be used more in the future

  27. Lisa, I have a couple clarification questions? First how can teachers share material they create in the employ of a school district with others without the permission of the district? I understand that the school district retains the intellectual rights of this material so sharing, even freely, would have to be within the guidelines of the district. And, even if it's no longer a part of a present job description, doesn't the district have rights to any intellectual property created related to present or past employment? Kind of like the intellectual rights that some software companies have for their employees who cannot take what they create with them or use it for their own even if it's not directly related to their current employment situation within the company? How can teachers share anything with other teachers unless they create something unrelated to what they are currently teaching?
    Secondly, although I think I understand what you are saying about sharing materials, I wonder why you, Tom and Steve are so against teachers selling what they create, if they can, while each of you sells materials to teachers as entrepreneurs? Isn't part of the idea of being an entrepreneur about seeing a need and providing a solution? I struggle with this because, as an administrator/teacher of 25 years I have done many presentations for "free", have not been compensated for materials I have created for various people yet I continue to see people who get paid for doing exactly the same thing tell people they should do it for free. So, when can people charge for their knowledge? At what point is it okay to make a profit from one's learning?

    1. Clarification answers:
      ==How can teachers share material they create in the employ of a school district with others without the permission of the district?==
      Answer: Employees should ask for permission to share work if that is what their district requires.

      ==Doesn't the district have rights to any intellectual property created related to present or past employment?==
      Answer: Yes.

      ==I wonder why you, Tom and Steve are so against teachers selling what they create, if they can, while each of you sells materials to teachers as entrepreneurs?==
      Answer: I did not say I am against teachers selling what they create outside the work their employer pays them to do.

    2. Please clarify - is it "If you are Tom Whitby or Steve Anderson, authors of The Relevant Educator Amazon Inspire is on the right track. In their recent talk at #ISTE2016 they shared that they believe relevant educators don't pay each other they share with each other freely." or is it "I did not say I am against teachers selling what they create outside the work their employer pays them to do" because there appears to be a difference. The first implies OER - no getting paid but open and free sharing and collaboration between relevant teachers while the latter suggests it's okay to get paid as long as the work is outside the scope of the job description, you are writing a book, or something else unrelated to the work you do. Or, is it collaboration and sharing within something like a PLC or district-wide system such as that should be free sharing but it's okay to get paid if people share via a publication?
      I ask because I have bought and read numerous books by educators ,who are still teaching, about their classroom/school practices and what they are doing in relation to planning, assessment, classroom organization (flipped classrooms, maker space, genius hour, minecraft, etc through Amazon mostly) in which they include various materials and suggestions with examples from their classroom/school practices and it seems okay to charge for this format of knowledge sharing.

    3. To clarify...
      Yes. I shared what Tom and Steve shared about how relevant educators collaborate along with a screen shot from their presentation.

      Yes. I did not say I am against teachers selling what they create outside the work they are paid to do.

      With OER teachers are often paid to create curriculum and then it is shared freely with teachers.

      As far as books, speaking engagements, etc., that is determined by district. Where I work you may not be paid to speak or write a book related to your job without a "difficult to acquire" waiver. Other districts have different regulations.

  28. If schools paid educators as the professionals that they are, the way we do doctors and lawyers, your argument might have merit. In many states, you can make more money in retail, or on Welfare, than you can teau. Why shouldn't teachers sell materials they create in their home on their own time. They hold other second jobs, waitress, bartender, retail clerks. Why not sell their own work. It's what they are good at doing. Why do people like you keep wanting to treat teachers like second class servants or worse, slave labor.

    1. ==Why shouldn't teachers sell materials they create in their home on their own time. ==
      They shouldn't if it is against their districts IP policy.

      ==Why do people like you keep wanting to treat teachers like second class servants or worse, slave labor.==
      No teacher I work with feels I treat them in such a way. Rather I work to do my best to ensure they are supported and have the resources they need at no cost.

  29. Since the article seems to in particular question the way the Teachers Pay Teachers works, I would like to point out that it fails to mention the tremendous efforts that the TpT website has made lately to bring easy purchasing power to DISTRICTS and SCHOOLS as the payee, even creating a page devoted specifically to schools as buyers: and streamlining the use of purchase orders. In most school settings, teachers are able to go through some avenue to request purchasing of materials, including materials they want from TpT. It is out of convenience that most teachers purchase it themselves.

    In answer to your question, "So, what do you think? Should educators pay each other or share their genius freely?"
    My genius is free, you are welcome to it on my blog, my copyrighted materials are not (well some of them are, but which are up to me).

    1. The post is not questioning how Teachers Pay Teachers works. It was not about the inner workings of various outlets that provide materials for educators. The focus in on whether teachers should sell or share. That said, I think it is smart of TPT and all providers of learning materials to provide a mechanism for schools and districts to pay. Those that do will be more successful.

      After discussing the issue, my revised question would be this:

      Should teachers sell to or share with other teachers the work they already do for their employer? My answer to that is: share.

      If you do something outside your employment, I think compensation is great in some cases, but I suggest the compensation come from a source other than a teacher (i.e. district, company, funder).

      Furthermore, if an educator is paid to present, I would recommend they specify that they want to share what they created with teachers and not have teachers charged for it.

  30. Lisa, The topics your books seem to be about are things that you gained experience from in dealing with students. Your job provides you with continued access to those students didn't it? How to you rationalize that one? At the very beginning you state that publishing a book is very different than producing other types of materials. I have done both and its not such a big difference. Based on this line you have conveniently drawn in the sand what you do is Ok but what others do is not. Your books are available as Kindle edition so you basically sent digital files to the publisher just as other do on TPT. How do innovators get rewarded in education?

    1. No Gregory. My job did not provide me with access to students relating to the topics in my books. That is how I rationalize that one.

      Yes. I state that publishing and selling a book unrelated to one's job is different then selling materials that are created as a part of your job. I too have done both and there is a difference. If I create something for the job I am paid to do, I share it. I have already created it. If I do something such as write a book outside my job and outside work hours, then being paid makes sense should I choose that option. That said, I have given away thousands of free copies of my books as well. If I am paid to speak I share all materials created for the engagement freely with those who attend my session and I share with the world. This is what works for me and what is allowed by my employer.

      You ask how innovators in education are rewarded. Personally I have enjoyed being able to provide environments, opportunities, and support for educators and students and feel rewarded as I watch them grow. I also have been able to participate in wonderful experiences where I have the opportunity to share my expertise with others. Additionally, I have learned a tremendous amount from other innovators with whom I share ideas and resources. Finally, I work for a school district that values my innovative work and insights and employs me to share this with other educators. I am sure other innovators have other equally rewarding experiences they can share if you reach out to them.

  31. Several people have mentioned that teachers should be paid when corporations use their materials on a broad-scale. But, I want to point out that even when teachers ARE being paid, it usually doesn't equate financially to the true value of the work. I know there are some exceptions, but for the most part teachers don't get compensated very well for their products. I think this is in part due to the fact that many people believe they should be freely shared. So, when teachers are paid, it often isn't very much. It's often seen as "fun, summer money" and not real compensation.

    I worked as a educational consultant for a number of years (sometimes while working full-time as a teacher) and I rarely got paid well. Edtech companies and start-ups really abuse the intellectual property of teachers by taking their knowledge and ideas and turning it around for profit. You could argue they don't have the funds to pay consultants, but later on when they perform well and make a profit, they don't compensate the teachers that helped them.

    Even large organizations don't pay their consultants very well. I created materials for a large educational organization in the US and was paid $1600 for my work. This work is now used by millions of students each year. The organization not only sells the product, but they have also created guides for use with the product I created that they also sell. I don't get a percentage of any of that profit.

    I don't believe teaching will ever be seen as a true profession and not just a "calling" if the intellectual property of teachers isn't respected financially.