September 20 2012
Millionaire Teachers: Educators are Getting Entrepreneurial, Getting Over a Monopoly Mindset
Vicki E. Alger
Making a profit in education is supposed to be anathema, right? Well not for a growing number of teachers who are selling their lesson plans for profit. As Andy Rotherham explains in his School of Thought column:
A growing number of educators who are making big bucks selling their lesson plans online. On a peer-to-peer site called TeachersPayTeachers (TPT), Georgia kindergarten teacher Deanna Jump has earned more than $1 million selling lesson plans — with names like “Colorful Cats Math, Science and Literacy Fun!” — for about $9 a pop. Since the site launched in 2006, 26 teachers have each made more than $100,000 on TPT, which takes a 15 percent commission on most sales. In August, Jump became the first on TPT to reach $1 million. Her success has been aided by the thousands of followers of her personal blog who get notified each time she retails a new lesson. Another reason she thinks her stuff sells so well: “I’ve used it in my classroom,” says Jump, who just kicked off her 16th year of teaching. “I know it works.”…
That may sound like a raw deal until you think about what’s been happening in higher education, where more and more colleges are getting professors to put their syllabus and, more recently, videos of their lectures online. But it’s a new frontier in the long insulated K-12 world. … Regardless of who foots the bill for more-effective lesson plans, this sort of professional sharing is long overdue.
But what do the teachers unions think? Well, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the U.S.’s second largest teachers’ union, just launched its own site this summer,
Share My Lesson. Lesson plan there are free, but the AFT does have a corporate partner, TES Connect. AFT president Randi Weingarten won’t say for sure whether that site will someday turn a profit, but she did say, “If teachers don’t want to share, they don’t have to.” No word yet on whether than applies to union dues for political activity, but this small nod to teacher freedom is refreshing.