Thursday, November 21, 2019

Teachers Helping Teachers For Free

I understand the appeal of sites like Teachers Pay Teachers. Really I do. Some teachers are awesome at creating resources and the idea of getting paid to share them is attractive to underpaid and over worked teachers. Even Amazon, never one to miss a chance to make money, is getting in the business of supporting this idea (Amazon Starts Marketplace for Teachers to Sell Online Educational Resources) . For some reason the idea of asking poor under paid and under resourced teachers to pay for stuff that I have developed for my own use just doesn’t feel right.

I have no problem with teachers who decide to ask other teachers to pay for resources. I have no problem with people who make creating and selling resources in order to make a living. It’s a free country. I hope they have no problem with me giving stuff away for free.

I made a comment to this effect on Twitter and Mike Zamansky replied with “When I was starting out I only survived by the good graces of more senior teachers who mentored and just as importantly SHARED materials (free of charge). This shows the disconnect between capitalists and educators.”

I think that has been the experience for many of us. We survived and continue to survive because others share resources with us.

I’ve been pretty lucky myself. The first real resource I shared online was a pair of project books for Visual Basic and Visual C#. I got paid to write the first editions. By Microsoft not by other teachers. Teachers got them for free. I subsequently updated and expanded them several times as the software was updated but while the books were still free I no longer got paid to write them. I was and am ok with that. I got plenty of use from those projects myself. The feeling of helping other teachers is a reward in itself.

In full disclosure, I have a couple of self-published books on Amazon now. Mostly because creating hard copy books to give away is more than I can spend. But I haven’t turned down teachers who request PDF versions.

I have also benefited from resources shared by others. PowerPoint presentations, video demonstrations, project ideas, and a host of other resources that people have shared over the years have greatly benefited my teaching and learning.  I am very grateful for those who have generously shared those resources.

One day maybe teachers will not be under resourced and under paid. For now though far too many are. That’s why I think we should do as much as we can to support each other.

1 comment:

Mike Zamansky said...

When you write a book for others or spend extra time on polishing a resource explicitly for others you're spending extra time to create a new resource explicitly for others and it's certainly fair to be compensated.

On the other hand, if you developed a lesson plan or other resource for your own teaching and spent no extra time or effort beyond it seems wrong to charge for it.