Friday, September 9, 2016

Teachers Pay Teachers

With the start of the new school year, teachers are putting the finishing touches on their lesson plans. Yellin Center Learning Specialist and blogger Renee Jordan shares her experiences as a classroom teacher creating and sharing her instructional materials.

As a new teacher, I spent hours roaming through local teacher stores and scouring education books at the library for activities, handouts, and materials for my students. I often found that so many of the reproducible materials had some great ideas, but they weren’t perfect and needed some tweaking.

I like to consider myself fairly tech savvy, so I began creating my own handouts and learning materials with my rudimentary InDesign skills. I doled out extra copies to interested coworkers who happened upon my materials on the photocopier. They were always so appreciative and it felt good to make the busy lives of my fellow teachers easier by providing them with materials that were tailored to specific student needs. It felt so good that I actually went on to study instructional and curriculum design in graduate school to better perfect my skills at developing learning materials. However, as the school year amps up, a teacher’s time becomes limited and there aren’t many hours at end of the day to spend creating and perfecting your own materials.

This is where Teachers Pay Teachers comes in to save the day. Instead of stumbling upon great learning materials in the copy room recycling bin, teachers are able to search for resources across age ranges and curricular areas that other exceptional educators have created.  Teachers Pay Teachers is the Etsy of the education world – an online marketplace for teachers to connect, both on and offline, and share the tools that have worked in their classrooms. Teachers are also able to sell their materials, garnering a supplemental income. As noted in The New York Times, some teachers are becoming very, very successful using Teachers Pay Teachers, with some materials having generating thousands of dollars of income for some truly innovative teachers. It is a sharing economy of high quality materials that have been created and vetted by seasoned, creative educators around the globe.

For me, Teachers Pay Teachers makes my life simpler by giving me easy access to exactly the type of learning materials I am hunting for. However, being a part of the Teachers Pay Teachers community is also inspiring. I love seeing the creative genius in my fellow educators across the continent; it fuels and spurs my own ideas of how to develop (and share) my own resources. When I share my materials in my Teachers Pay Teachers store I also benefit from the feedback other teachers provide on what worked in their classroom and what struggles they had with an activity I devised. This exchange of ideas helps me revamp and augment my learning materials. It may sound trite, but I truly become a better educator when I am able to connect and collaborate with the great teaching world through Teachers Pay Teachers. The Teachers Pay Teachers vision really says it all; they state that their “dream is to make the expertise and wisdom of all the teachers in the world available to anyone, anywhere, at any time." From my personal experience, they are really living that dream.

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