Share and Share Alike?

Posted: July 22, 2016 in Uncategorized


I am not a creative person. My amazingly artistic daughter will completely agree with that statement, right Jay?! My mother and grandfather were both artists but me? Nope, that ship sailed without me. My biggest wish is that my mother would have lived long enough to meet her youngest granddaughter, as they would have had so much to talk about. I know she is up there, pumping her fist and yelling “FINALLY!!!!”.

What I can do well, is imitate. I spend hours searching for ideas online, copying them and using them with my students. Some teachers freely share what they do, and many go as far as to put their creations out there for anyone to download and use. Others use sites like Teachers Pay Teachers to sell their materials.

So who has the right answer? I will admit, I love to find free materials that I can use on the web. I mean, who doesn’t right? I even know some teacher authors who upload both the PDF and Publisher version so that I can tweak their creation to make it fit my students better. I love the collaboration that comes from sharing and accepting input to make something better. But is this going above and beyond? Are other professions expected to share their materials with the world at no charge?

I find the backlash against teachers asking to be paid for something they created surprising. Again, I fall back on my artistic daughter. She is a wonderful artist and will happily create art, but she should be paid for her time and effort. Her graphic designs reside in several local restaurants and ski centers. All of them paid her in some way, whether through gift cards, money or scholarships to help her attend college. She is also a musician who both performs and writes her own music. The cd’s she has recorded cost her time, money and much heart and angst. Should she be expected to give this away? As a young and relatively unknown performer, she often does but think about people like Keith Urban, Beyonce or Josh Groban. They expect to be compensated for their work, and they should be. So why do we hold teachers to a different standard?

Megan Hayes-Golding has this to say about teachers sharing materials. You can view the entire post here.

We (MTBos) share freely to help other teachers out, we share freely because we know we get more than we take, we share freely because we understand more users help make a better product.

Lisa Nielsen of The Innovative Educator, shared this tweet during the 2016 ISTE conference:

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 11.41.55 AM

A.J. Juliano holds a different opinion. You can view his entire post here.

If a teacher creates something of value and wants to sell it to another teacher, they should not only be allowed to do so, but also encouraged to do so. Teachers should not be scolded for making “extra money” by developing great lessons, resources, and guides that improve teaching and learning…they should be applauded.

Personally, I have no issues with teachers selling their materials. I have bought and used MANY items on Teachers Pay Teachers and met some wonderful people that I can now proudly call my friends. Many have tweaked something for me to make it better fit my classroom for no extra charge, and several have sent me free materials because they thought I could use them (and no, I did not ask for them, they are all just amazing people who are happy to share as well as sell). As a non-creative but very imitative teacher, I happily exist in both worlds. What say you?

  1. Amy Spencer says:

    I think that many teachers who jump to selling on TeachersPayTeachers are trying to make ends meet in a financially stressful time. Some of them probably do sell enough to qualify as a salary, but I assume that most are just helping to cover the groceries for the month.

    My principal informed us at the end of school meeting that next school year will be operating on the same budget as 2011-2012. When the schools do not have funding to support teachers, they pull out of their own pockets to do what is best for students. However, those teachers have to go elsewhere to make up the difference. Many of my own colleagues sell from “shop at home” parties as consultants for companies such as Scentsy, Thirty-One, It Works, Juice Plus, and Mary Kay. If we do not frown on teachers for getting second jobs like these or coaching sports, why do we disapprove of selling their own materials?


  2. lisakmcleod says:

    I think it is probably a mix, as several teachers, I have become friendly with now sell on TpT instead of working in the classroom. With school budgets where they are, ever increasing lay-offs, escalating job stress and the public perception that it is perfectly ok for teachers to fund their own classrooms, I agree, second jobs are often necessary. You make an interesting comparison with the party consultants, one I hadn’t thought of. I think the argument is almost deeper than that, with some people arguing against it almost on an ethical level. I’m just thankful that wonderful, creative people allow me to use their materials, whether I have to buy them or if they are given freely. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I am perfectly happy to pay for that, just as I pay for music, movies, and other copyrighted materials.


  3. I think there is are pros and cons to both sides of the story. As teachers, we preach collaboration and open discussions regarding learning and education. That being said, it is hard to hand over an awesome project or week long plan of activities for NOTHING. I have used Teachers Pay teachers, as well as free websites, such as Both offer great lessons and activities, as well as not-so-good activities. I think if people want to share their hard work, they get to decide if they want to share freely or for a profit. I’d honestly love to get paid/reimbursed for projects and most of the time do, if not with actual money, but a favor or help in other areas. I had never thought of this debate to this depth and I am glad you made me. I think I want to share this question with my co-workers and see what they think.


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