Source of High School Teachers Pay Teachers
Popular resource-sharing platform Teachers Pay Teachers, a private company in business since 2006, predates the #GoOpen campaign; Although the site has 4 million active users, it is not one of the DOE’s suggested platforms as much of its material is price tagged.
On the site, teachers upload a mix of resources that are free to download and those that are for sale. Prices range from 99 cents for a slideshow or activity worksheet to $40 for an entire unit plan. Individual teachers are generally the buyers, sometimes paying out of pocket and sometimes using tuition provided for materials.
Copyright on materials can also be well protected: some teachers sell licenses for the right to share materials with peers, while others only offer their work in non-editable formats like PDF.
Teachers Pay Teachers
When I first signed up for Teachers Pay Teachers in 2008, I was dizzy — not only was the site founded by another New York teacher, Paul Edleman, but it gave teachers the role of author rather than the drudgery of commercial textbooks .
Not to mention that it has rewarded (both financially and through networking) one of my favorite parts of teaching: the reflection, research, and return to content that feeds into the creation of materials.
A well-crafted, engaging assignment can feel like an ephemeral achievement if not shared, as it can really only be used once per class per year.
But then I sat at my desk trying to start a shop, flipping through countless resources that I was genuinely proud to teach and found that none of them could be shared without some serious editing.
What I hadn’t understood before taking this cautious leap into the broader sharing economy was that task creation is so much about personalization.
In many of my works, the flow of the lesson plans was already written into the materials. Grouped lists of student names, references to specific comments in specific discussions, staggered deadlines, page numbers linking to other texts and activities, and regional jokes—all of these were littered with my materials.
Nothing had the glamor of advertising. In order for them to be suitable for a general audience, I had to wipe them off and make them blank slabs. Selling material or even sharing it—Teachers Pay Teachers requires all sellers to offer at least one free resource—would have been an intense project. My colleagues kept my folders and Google Drive links, but my shop didn’t launch.
Some Sellers Profit From Stolen Work On Teachers Pay Teachers
Julie Reulbach does not sell resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, an online marketplace that allows educators to monetize their lesson plans and teaching materials. Despite this, she often sees her work for sale there.
“Every time I look, I find something,” said Reulbach, a high school math teacher at a private school in Concord, NC, who has published an instructional blog since 2010. About every six months she scans Teachers Pay Teachers for work from her blog. Their site is under a NonCommercial Creative Commons license, so anyone can use, edit, or share their materials—but they can’t sell them.
Teachers Need Therapy And Your Schools Should Pay for It
Almost a dozen educators who used the website or are familiar with it said Education Week that TPT has a widespread problem with copyright infringement. Teachers said sellers literally took passages out of their lessons and copied entire pages without permission. While the company provides a registration mechanism for violations, it leaves monitoring to the rights holders themselves.
The controversy over stolen work has also fueled a larger ideological gap in the teacher community: the split between those who think that it is okay that teachers earn money with their hard work, and those who believe that educators have materials free of charge with should share their colleagues.
In an explanation, Joe Holland, CEO of TPT, said that the company is taking the protection of intellectual property serious.
“TPT forbids its sellers strictly to list the material that violates the intellectual property rights of others, and we do not have the desire to have such material on TPT,” he said.
However, educators and authors say that the company should do more to combat what they see as a systemic failure when protecting teachers and other people who create materials.
They Shouldn’t Sell It
When Reulbach sees vendors trying to make money from the lessons she creates, she approaches them and asks them to take their materials. “Usually people contact me and say, ‘I’m really sorry,'” and remove the resource from their business, she said.
But earlier this year, she got into an argument with a teacher-salesman that became public. When Reulbach saw one of her graphic organizers for sale at a Teachers Pay Teachers store, she filed a notice with the company’s copyright team and commented on the listing. She also reached out to seller Theresa Ellington on Twitter, asking her to remove the product.
The two went back and forth on the social media platform, with Ellington saying she revised the lesson from a Pinterest post and Reulbach claiming the resource was a direct copy of hers.
Screenshots Reulbach took of the worksheet from the store are nearly identical to the version in their original blog post, including the same formatting and equations. A picture published with Ellington’s product even shows a photo of the organizer filled in with Reulbach’s handwriting.
Teachers Pay Teachers To Learn From Bad Lessons And Upset Teachers
Popular lesson-sharing website Teachers Pay Teachers first landed on Jenny Kay Dupuis’ radar a little over a year ago.
Friends and social media users drew her attention to the fact that images and footage from one of her children’s books, I Am Not a Number, about a young Indigenous girl who was sent to boarding school in Canada, was based on her grandmother’s experience , had made their way into paid tuition on the side they had never seen before.
Alarmed, she contacted the company directly via Twitter. “They apologized for it and said they really believe that teachers are trying to honor the Aboriginal experiences by writing lessons to be shared in the classroom,” says Dupuis, a Toronto-based author and educator who writes committed to indigenous education.
“When I started looking at the content more closely, it was a bit more concerning that they really didn’t verify what was being shown there.”
In addition to copyright issues, Dupuis was concerned about the cultural sensitivity of the lessons and that the proceeds from their sales did not go to her or the First Nations communities she wrote about, but to third-party vendors and the teachers pay the teachers themselves.
“I think what really bothered me when I was writing this story was that I was trying to protect that story in my community as best I could,” she says. “I try to make sure I have those permissions and that I’m following protocols, but the added layer is that people benefit financially from my family history.”
Dupuis’ story is far from an isolated one, and the site has faced years of plagiarism allegations, racist lesson plans and poor content quality, all of which are regularly discussed on social media.
Nevertheless, Teachers Pay Teachers continues to enjoy great popularity among educators. Founded in 2006, the company estimates that more than two-thirds of US educators have used the site and downloads have surpassed one billion worldwide.
To operate on this scale, Teachers Pay Teachers behaves like a typical online marketplace – think eBay or Etsy – where third parties set their own prices and market their own materials, with the company getting a cut of every sale . A lucky few made millions.
But if anyone can upload materials with minimal oversight (the site doesn’t screen materials before they’re made available for sale), quality can vary wildly. A review by the Fordham Institute rated many of the most popular high school English lessons on Teachers Pay Teachers and similar sites as “fair” or “probably not useful.”
Compared to two other lesson-sharing sites, ReadWriteThink and Share My Lesson, materials on Teachers Pay Teachers performed the worst.
And then there are the kinds of lessons that troubled Dupuis the most — those that draw on culturally insensitive, non-inclusive, or racist stereotypes.
Part of the problem may be that teachers don’t always think critically enough about the materials they download and present to students, says Jennifer Gallagher, an assistant professor at East Carolina University who studies sites like Teachers Pay Teachers content quality has.
In an article for Social Education magazine, Gallagher and colleagues looked at seemingly harmless lessons about “QU marriages” designed for young, aspiring readers. In these lessons, students will recreate elaborate wedding ceremonies in white dresses to illustrate that “Q” and “U” are almost always connected when forming words. But the lesson can come with an unhealthy dose of gender and marriage stereotypes.
“I think a lot of teachers rate resources based on how easy they are to use, how cute they are, and how fun they are,” she says. “There’s not necessarily some level of criticism, at least from what we’re seeing: how useful is that and how much does it help me achieve my educational goal?”
These questions are important because platforms like Teachers Pay Teachers are rarely self-regulating, Gallagher adds. “Market forces in general often perpetuate the status quo around things like white supremacy,” she says, particularly the idea of whiteness as the standard.
“I think the fact that it’s a marketplace, these spaces aren’t inherently justice-oriented, so it’s not exactly surprising to me that there’s no mechanism in this system to think about justice.”
There are signs that the company is listening to and responding to these ongoing concerns.
Over the summer, the company announced a handful of initiatives, including a social justice webinar series, a plan to highlight black creators, and a $100,000 grant to create anti-racist and culturally-responsive learning materials.
Of course, the new lessons do not automatically replace the problematic ones already on the platform. To counteract this, the company says it is now conducting a proactive review of its website using artificial intelligence and a team of content moderators. (Previously, moderators only reviewed materials manually flagged by other users.)
“Our policy has always been that we have no tolerance for racist material,” said Joe Holland, CEO of Teachers Pay Teachers, in an interview with us. “We are at a moment in education where we realize there is still more we can do to support the community here.”
The site now uses AI to identify lessons that contain certain keywords, particularly those related to social studies and historical events, and subjects them to manual review.
Holland says that content moderators reviewed tens of thousands of lessons over the past year, and that flagged lessons represent only a tiny percentage of the site’s total. If a lesson is deemed problematic, the team will either ask for a revision or remove it permanently.
Building trust with educators who have experienced plagiarism and insensitive content on Teachers Pay Teachers is a work in progress, and the company has yet to iron out all of its missteps.
Over the past year, the company tried to reach out to Twitter users who were critical of the platform, including Dupuis. In the course of their discussions, the company added them to a public list on Twitter, which they titled “Anti-TpT,” using a popular acronym for the company.