I read an article recently about teachers selling lesson plans on-line. Some people are saying that since teachers are using district supplies, the district should be getting a cut of the profits.
The people who are saying such things know little about creating good lesson plans. There’s a lot more to it than what can be written in the 3″x3″ block in the district provided lesson plan book that most teachers no longer use anyway. Now many districts require that teachers post their lessons on school websites where the principal can have easy access to them without disturbing the class. Most of those teachers end up developing the plans on their own time on their own computers and then just downloading them. I don’t consider that as using district equipment. If I were to store my lesson plan book in the district’s locker, should the district claim part of the proceeds for what’s inside the plan book inside their locker? I don’t think so.
Teachers very seldom ever have the time to sit around developing lesson plans just for the sake of having the “fun” of doing it. At least not during the time that school is in session. The district gets its full share because the teacher implements the plans she has made in her own classroom first.
I started teaching in a city that didn’t have a teacher’s bookstore in a time that didn’t have computers. If there were any supplementary materials available, one might find something in a professional teacher’s magazine that had to be ordered by mail. For the most part, if teachers even had access to the magazines, the material arrived in time for planning the next year’s lessons since shipping and processing time took far too long.
If a teacher wanted to be creative and go beyond the suggestions in the Teacher’s Edition, which I often did the first six years of teaching, he would have to spend HOURS in the library scouring children’s books for material on which to build the lessons. I did it, and although my memory of those early days in the classroom is fading, I think I enjoyed doing it. I loved the creative freedom I was allowed to forge my own path beyond the TE.
I probably would have shared those lessons if someone had asked me for them, but there wasn’t a whole lot of communication between grade levels.When a grade level is departmentalized, there’s no one with whom to swap lessons anyway. There was very little opportunity to meet teachers from other schools. Having the opportunity to use other teachers’ lesson plans was scarce. Teachers were pretty much isolated in their own rooms. The district provided Teacher Editions and nothing else. A dedicated teacher went far beyond those editions. Some only used the textbooks as reference material anyway. They developed their lesson plans to encompass far more enrichment than the texts ever did.
I got a ten-year reprieve from lesson planning for the last half of the 70s, the Stone Age of technology for teaching. I substituted for five years using the lesson plans of the regular classroom teacher. For the next few years I left the classroom entirely until I returned in the mid 80s.
By that time, complete curriculum planners with daily lesson plans were commercially available. Teachers sold their plans to publishing companies which saw the value in providing creative ideas to teachers.
Starting my teaching career over was not easy. All my teacher materials that I had stored for ten years before I was rehired had been thrown out. The many boxes took up too much time in the closet. I was never going to teach again, or so I thought. Circumstances in my life changed and I went back to the classroom. The mimeographed (remember the purple ink?) work sheets were way out of date anyway. I could now use my typewriter and actually make black ink copies after the first year back. There was still no computer available.
I know about commercially available lessons. By the time I retired, I must have had well over two hundred paper backed books I had purchased over the last twenty years in the classroom. Some of them I sold, most of them I just donated to the school. I’m not big on garage sales. I probably could have recouped a few more dollars on my investment in materials but I chose just to donate.
Now flash forward to today. Google “lesson plans”. There are 69 pages of free lesson plans available on-line. That is just ONE search engine. I’m sure more lessons could be found if one went to all the different search engines. Teachers DO share much of their work for free as was suggested. Others sell their work for profit. They used to make deals with publishing companies, now they sell directly on-line. Teachers Pay Teachers and We are Teachers are just two websites where teachers, if they don’t want to take advantage of all the free stuff available, can purchase lesson plans.
If a teacher wants to sell her lesson plans and there are other teachers who are willing to buy, then I say they should have the complete freedom to do it without having to kick back anything to the district.
Cash strapped districts are looking all over for additional funding. They already have their “pound of flesh” from the uncountable hours teachers put in before or after class that are not paid for because of the contracts that were signed. Ask.com had the question “The work hours of teachers?” The reply:
Teachers “officially” work 35-40 hours a week. That’s actually at the school. Add on the time spent grading papers at home, preparing grade cards, shopping for supplies (average teacher spends $250 – $500 a year out of his/her own pocket for classroom supplies), taking continuing education classes, “meet-the-teacher” night, and you can easily figure an average of 50 hours a week. You will notice they did not mention “making lesson plans’.
Although it didn’t happen every night, I can’t begin to count the number of times when I was developing new units and lesson plans that I put in 7 am to 7 pm or LATER days at school, as did many of my colleagues. It was possible some weeks to put in sixty hours during the week for which no compensation or acknowledgement ever occurred. That didn’t include the weekend.
Yes, a few teachers have made several thousand dollars over several years selling their lesson plans. If teachers were to deduct all they pay for supplementary materials out of their own paychecks from any profits they made for selling lesson plans, the districts would never see a cent. That includes the few who are making four figure sales. Those teachers I’m guessing are pretty rare.
There’s another side to selling lesson plans (which as stated above has been occurring for more than a quarter of a century).
Beyond the unresolved legal questions, there are philosophical ones. Joseph McDonald, a professor at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University, said the online selling cheapens what teachers do and undermines efforts to build sites where educators freely exchange ideas and lesson plans. Now I ask you, how many college professors, who are pontificating on the propriety of teachers earning anything extra over their salary, ever gave away their class syllabi for free? Syllabi which often turn yellow from age, by the way.
Some teachers have the audacity to pay for dinners out, or trips, or home mortgages! How DARE they cheapen the profession? Get a life, you sanctimonious, money grabbing cynical critics. I say, “Go sister teacher”! The money you earn over a life time of selling your lesson plans may even put you up there with the Wall Street Tycoons! Ya think? ….. Nah! Namaste. Attic Annie