Exchanging lessons plans and teaching tips used to be something that only happened in the comfort of a faculty lounge. In today’s Internet age, however, school resources are sold on Ebay, Craigs List and in other Internet marketplaces just like concert tickets and electronics.
According to a New York Times Article, thousands of teachers are cashing in on all types of lesson plans, some as simple as M&M sorting and others as sophisticated as Shakespeare analyses.
This revolutionary idea is sparking controversy among certain school districts that believe they may have rights to their teachers’ lessons plans and their respective profits. Robert N. Lowery, the deputy director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents, stated that if district resources are used then it’s fair to question whether the district should share in the proceeds. The lesson plan marketplace is too new to have generated official policies, but I don’t think we are far from that day.
According to the NYT, Teachers Pay Teachers is one of the largest marketplaces where teachers sell their lesson plans. It has more than 200,000 registered users and has recorded $450,000 in sales in the past year.
These lessons plans, as long as they are developed at home, on a teacher’s own time – as most lessons plans are – appear to be that teacher’s property and no one else’s. He or she is free to sell them to whomever they choose.
More unsettling is the detrimental impact that selling lesson plans has on the free exchange of ideas. The Internet has diminished the isolation of classroom teachers, creating a community where rookie teachers can benefit from having a class-tested lesson by a more experienced teacher.
Wouldn’t all students, teachers and school districts be better off if this exchange could occur without monetary fees involved? Good teachers would share their wisdom because they want what is best for their students and other teachers’ students.
Why, then is this not the case? Perhaps it is because many of these talented, experienced teachers are not appreciated.
The starting salary for New York City Public School teachers ranges from $45,530 (bachelor’s degree, no prior teaching experience) to $74,796 (master’s degree, 8 years teaching experience). They receive annual increases to the current maximum of $100,049 per year. While this is certainly a decent salary, it is nominal compared to other professionals. Further, as school budgets get cut, money is tight for classroom supplies. Many of these teacher entrepreneurs have used the funds from their online lesson plans to improve their classrooms.
Truly great teachers are the key to our country’s future. School districts should be questioning why these great teachers need to sell their lesson plans for extra cash rather than questioning if they should be taking a cut of their employees’ profits.