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Why some teachers are choosing compensation over open source for lesson plans


It is no secret that many teachers believe they should be compensated more for the work they do

teachers-lesson-plansIn 2012, one kindergarten teacher defied the norm and earned more than $700,000 by selling her lesson plans online. This success story was just one of many stories involving K-12 teachers who received more than their yearly salary by selling their lesson plans in an online marketplace called Teachers Pay Teachers.

Two years later, there is a rising popularity with posting and using free, open-source material. Yet, Teachers Pay Teachers remains popular and is even expanding with more investors and members.

This begs the question: Why are some educators still choosing to pay for lesson plans?

Torrey Trust developed her own site, K-12 Tech Tools Database, to aggregate free, open-source materials for educators who wanted to use technology but didn’t know where to find resources.  “Two main obstacles to teacher learning are time and resources,” Trust said.

(Next page: Saving teachers time and money)

She created her site to tackle those two problems in a form of curation, which Trust says is going to be especially important as the internet continues to expand and offer an overwhelming amount of information for teachers. In her research, she found that educators tend to prefer resource recommendations from other teachers, rather than a list of sources. This is why an online community with the opportunity to share feedback and rate materials can be very popular, she said.

“The ratings and comments help teachers make decisions faster and easier, and they save teachers time from having to browse through multiple resources and make decisions on their own,” Trust said.

Amy Borrell Berner, head of Community and Editorial for TeachersPayTeachers.com, said the online community draws teachers to their site.

“Sellers collaborate and support one another, and they are driven to succeed to the best of their potential and abilities because they receive royalties–85 percent for premium sellers–for doing so,” Berner said.

The average price for a lesson plan is $4, and members have the option to follow certain sellers they like so they can buy their latest products. The website also lets educators grade their peers’ lesson plans.

To Berner, compensation involves more than just money. “Teachers want to connect with other teachers. They want to feel respected and encouraged. They want to save time on lesson prep. They want to be valued for their work. Teachers Pay Teachers offers all of that,” Berner said.

Lisa Driscoll is an editorial intern at eSchool News.

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