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Lesson Plans for Sale: Does it Have to Be this Way?

Lesson Plans for Sale:  Does it Have to Be this Way?

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.


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Fiona O.

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5:34PM PST on Dec 21, 2009

I believe that knowledge is meant to be shared. This means what I know that you don't, I teach it to you. I do not sell it to you. I want you to learn about things you do not know and grow as a person.

I do no feel sorry for those in the teaching profession. They have studied in accredited colleges for four years and beyond to train them to educate. They can leave at any time they feel they are mistreated, underpaid and not appreciated.

I for one am very tired of teachers whining about their jobs and such. Be creative and learn how to teach the classroom that you have - at this time, individualize as needed - and actually instill knowledge in your students.

11:16AM PST on Dec 17, 2009

Unsure to the poll question.

8:36AM PST on Dec 17, 2009

it`s their own intellectual property, so why not.

1:20PM PST on Dec 15, 2009

interesting article...its sad they aren't/cant come up with their own.

10:29AM PST on Dec 14, 2009

thought provoking article

3:03AM PST on Dec 12, 2009

Today there is far too much ignorant political and bureaucratic interference in all aspects of education.
After completing the statutory probationary years teaching in a state school I moved to the independent sector. The pay was not as good, but the more-relaxed conditions, pupils urged to learn by fee-paying parents, freedom to teach my own way providing that it obtained results, a happy staffroom free from the tension created by inept official oversight, made all worthwhile.
It is high time that teachers were freed from shackles imposed upon them by ill-advised,
uninformed, officious politicians and their lackeys.

5:58PM PST on Dec 10, 2009

No question about it. Teachers are underpaid in the labor market and deserve an accordingly wage for the importance of their work and definitely should get all the rights for the intellectual creations.

From Chile

9:21AM PST on Dec 9, 2009

Lesson plans are intellectual property of those who made them. They should be allowed to sell them if they want, and the schools/districts they work for shouldn't get one single cent of their price, just like book writers don't have to give a share of their profit with the book to the cafe they wrote the book at.

1:39PM PST on Dec 8, 2009

Thanks for the info

5:32AM PST on Dec 8, 2009

Teachers have the rights to their own ideas & this includes lesson plans. This is certainly the teachers property & nothing to do with their other employer. If the school had signed a contract with the teacher that all intellectual property of the teacher whilst under employment would be school property then they would have something. However anyone who would agree to such a contract would be mad!

This almost breaches Human Rights to work.

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