This has been a draft for over a year! I am keen to share my thoughts on this, but I am nervous about actually publishing it because I know that it will be unpopular. I hate the idea of being controversial! Having said that, I do welcome debate.
First of all, let me be clear: this is a discussion and maybe a debate. It is not an attack on anyone who buys or sells on Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT). My issue is with the big idea, not individuals. When I taught in England, I struggled every month to get by financially. I don’t blame anyone who wants to make a bit more money. In fact, I kind of admire your entrepreneurship. Likewise, I admire teachers who are willing to spend their own money on their students. Again, please do not read this as an attack.
Many other teachers have criticised the quality of TPT resources, generally stating that they lack individuality and creativity. For me, even these posts are missing the point. I’m not going to discuss this matter. I went to the site for the first time today, so I’m hardly qualified to judge its quality. Also, I have highly-respected colleagues who use this site. I know that they would ignore the rubbish and only pay for quality. My issue would still exist even if the resources were the best in the world.
For me, it’s the payment part. Something about teachers paying each other really doesn’t sit well with me. We work in a profession that relies on collaboration and sharing. We would be unsuccessful without it (or certainly much less successful). I’m a firm believer that we’re all in this together and that we all make each other better for the sake of our students. I care about your students. I don’t know them, but I want them to succeed. If I can support you in any way, I’m more than happy to.
“The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other.”
Robert John Meehan
The following description was taken directly from the TPT website:
“Teachers Pay Teachers (or TPT, as we call it) is a community of millions of educators who come together to share their work, their insights, and their inspiration with one another. We are the first and largest open marketplace where teachers share, sell, and buy original educational resources. That means immediate access to a world of expertise and more time to focus on students and teaching.”
Teachers Pay Teachers
Although most of the above ideas sound good, I would argue that many other platforms can make the same claims without the need for payment. If payment is required, I don’t believe that it can be called sharing. Time and time again, I have written about using social media to connect with other educators around the world. This has been a game-changer. I absolutely love sharing my ideas on social media and, obviously, I am an enthusiastic blogger. I love sharing and I love learning from others. TPT raises a concerning question: if other people are making money, why should I do it for free? Imagine if all teachers started to think this way. How sad! My PLN means the world to me, especially my Twitter connections and fellow bloggers. If any of them started charging for their ideas, I’d be devastated.
“To have thousands of fellow minds in your pocket via a mobile device is to have an immensely unfair advantage over humans who think alone.”
I am also part of many Facebook and Google+ groups for teachers. Many of these have tens of thousands of members. They are a fantastic source of inspiration and support. I share my new blog posts in these groups and sometimes feel guilty in case it is interpreted as self-promotion (I suppose it is) or even spamming. However, I think that my ideas are worthwhile and potentially beneficial for fellow teachers. I wouldn’t share them if I didn’t. If members are interested, they can obviously read my posts for free. It concerns me that TPT promotions are increasingly common in these groups. The group members cannot benefit from these posts without paying. Granted, the resources are usually very cheap, but my point is that they should be free. The people who set up these groups did so (I assume) because they believe in the power and importance of teachers collaborating. When resources require money, it is not collaboration in my eyes.
“Education thrives on partnership and collaboration – within schools, between schools, and with other groups and organisations.”
Sir. Ken Robinson
TPT is described on the site as a ‘movement’. This suggests that it is gaining momentum and popularity. Like I said, TPT posts seem to be appearing more frequently, so the movement is probably real. This terrifies me! Is this the future of teacher collaboration? For teachers who use TPT regularly, I urge you to develop your PLN across multiple free platforms. I passionately believe that you can find resources, ideas and inspiration for free. In fact, I know it. For teachers who sell on TPT, why not try blogging? You can get your ideas out there without charging and you can still make money through advertising. The small amount of pocket money that I make is an additional reward for my efforts, but it comes from Amazon, not my colleagues.
The following quote sums up my post nicely. I believe that teachers have a responsibility to share and have the right to be shared with. Again, I ask if the word ‘sharing’ can be used if payment is required.
“When you are not sharing your brilliant ideas, you are doing a disservice to others.”
Perhaps I’m missing the point. I’d be very interested in opposing viewpoints. I am open-minded to other ideas and I realise that many people will disagree with me. I welcome respectful, professional debate. I might even come to the conclusion that I was wrong! Try me.
What is your stance on TPT? Please leave your thoughts below. For more discussions and blog updates, please follow my Facebook page.