Closing the Door on TPT

So today I finally did it. I closed my account on Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT).

I was on my favorite PD source (Twitter) and saw a tweet from my favorite person (My wife) who is at a conference on leadership. The gist of the post was that other professions such as nurses, doctors, mechanics, whatever do not go to Pintrest to address issues with working with their clients, they do not have a Nurses Pay Nurses to handle a tricky case and yet I have heard so often and see so many times, “I will just find something that will work or something close on TPT and my kids will get the main idea.” We are becoming less and less likely to address the real issues behind students not getting “it” and more and more likely to hit up the cute activities of Pintrest and TPT. In Canada it is funny, I have witnessed and in an earlier stage in my life participated in the editing of TPT work because it did not fit the Canadian curriculum but it was just so darn cute, I didn’t care if the measurements were in inches on a math sheet I could just get the kids to change it and, bonus, that would take even more of class time.  I know I am not even nearly the only one that has done that but I might be the only one that is fine admitting it.

We have a problem in education right now as far as I can tell. We are giving up on the innovation of instruction for ease, cute and the promise of right now. You can have this (cute) unit plan on Penguins that addresses every outcome and more, with the click of a button and your handy credit card (ease) and you can print it out and use it that afternoon (promise of right now) after a weekend of relaxing because “I need me time too”. I agree whole heartily that we need “me” time, I disagree in the how it is achieved.

While TPT and Pinterest provide millions of options of thing to do, they do not know our students. The MAGIC of teaching is planning with our students in mind, what can we do to engage them in learning? Can a “one size fits all” download truly exist? Sure if all you are doing in drill and kill instruction. I have already said I am guilty of that and the “Why reinvent the wheel” thinking but really is there anything proprietary in a multiplication sheet? Teachers are charging 25 dollars for a unit that promises to address all the common core outcomes with a 3-page preview. You can’t possibly believe that you are doing what is best for kids when you base the purchase of something for the kids on the Table of Contents, and yet so many do.

I am not against teachers getting paid for the work they are doing, I am against teachers blindly purchasing things without asking the question first, “Is this what my students need?” If you think they need a Penguin Clipart covered unit on Multiplication, I am wondering what assessment you have done to establish that Penguin clipart makes it more engaging. I mean what about the kids that dislike penguins… (that was a joke)

In a world where education seems to be getting less and less funding, where teachers are turning to canned workbooks that some retired TPT millionaire is making, while other teachers are working hard trying to engage their students and seeing the 5-star review and wondering if the work they are putting is is worth it. We start to see too many asking if selling their ideas instead of sharing them is the way to go.

Today I closed my TPT page because I see the damage it is causing far outweighs the benefits. You can disagree with me but if you download folder is full of Penguin clip art I might not be able to take you seriously.

This started with the comment there is not a Nurses Pay Nurses, there is a reason for that. Nurses are working to make their clients healthier and not profit personally from finding a new way to do something more successfully. Helping each other to learn the best ways to do something, learning from each other not profiting from the struggles. I know it is a touchy subject, I know some make a lot of money of TPT and others save a lot of time. I know there are activities out there that are fun and I have made money off selling my own things which have turned into more books for my library.

I am not calling for a boycott of TPT but I am calling for a boycott of lazy one size fits all, look at this cool penguin unit I found and can just work on for the next month teaching. It does not inspire greatness or innovation but certainly does continue to feed the narrative that teaching is easy, that students can just sit and work on a book.

The idea that “anyone can do it” because they can buy a unit on Teachers Pay Teachers has to end. Students deserve a teacher that is passionate about learning and improving. They deserve a classroom of wonder not workbooks and they deserve to have some fun that does not come out of the printer.

Hmm funny the journey that a tweet can take me on.

9 thoughts on “Closing the Door on TPT

  1. Interesting thoughts. I have never bought anything or used an idea from TPT, but it reminds me of teachers I know who just print up packets from the internet and give them to students with a due date. My son had a teacher like this. He was frustrated because there was no teaching going on related to the questions in the packet. I told him to just look up the answer key online. If the teacher was going to play teacher, he could play student in the same way. While online resources have at times made some aspects of our jobs easier, they have also, sadly, enabled many people whose heart isn’t really in the work at hand.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. TPT is a good resource for educators. There are lazy individuals in every profession, but cancelling you account because someone might use the site unwisely is unnecessary. They will just continue to steal lesson materials elsewhere. You can print 5 pages from a district issued resource book and make a busy work packet if that is the kind of educator you are. The fact is there are many great resources on TPT, and often you can locate items by searching state standards. It doesn’t have to be about getting cute items, but about learning from each other and advancing our students together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t deny there are good things. The point however does not change that I don’t think the good outweighs the bad. You are correct there are always going to be lazy teachers. I have been one at times. I closed my TPT account because I thought it was awfully hypocritical to have it open when I spoke often of the damage it does. The emails that a product had sold and the thoughts of how that project was being used. I love the tech guide I buy on TPT and I have loved other things as well but I used them purposefully and I worry that people are putting away purpose for pretty. Happy to hear other points of view.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I personally think that TPT is a great website for teachers that are just adjusting writing lesson plans. I mean, I am not saying that teachers should be solely dependent on it but it has great ideas that you can feed off of. I think it is a great outline for a first year teacher. Eventually, I think a teacher should close their account once they are self established. Just my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. (Responding as a teacher of almost 20 years.)
    I don’t think there is a comparison between the ‘Nurses Pay Nurses’ idea. When nurses aren’t on-site, they aren’t working. This is not true for teachers, who – at least where I work – spend a huge bulk of their evenings and weekends throughout the year working following their day with their students. “The second half of the job begins after the students go home”, as some say (and as many non-teachers are unaware of.) I’m not a big fan of TPT (probably not where you think this post is going, I know) but there are times when I’ve spent an additional 3 hours planning innovative lessons and activities in multiple subjects for all the different ability and IEP levels of students in my class, plus have report cards to write, committee work to be done, emails to respond to, data entry to do, literacy summaries to write, etc., and none of this includes any time poured into my own children, so the idea of looking for a resource to help out such logistical strain is a survival strategy.
    I agree with you, that canned hand-outs, the cutesy pic art, distracting fonts, and lack of innovative and applied learning opportunities is unideal/lacking – and also, as you write, sometimes doesn’t meet expectations or content in other areas. For years I’ve prided myself on dedicating much of my non-school day hours to being the opposite teacher as this. However, these days and as the job expectations and stresses spiral out of control, it’s become critical to wellness to find some avenues to provide for our students and also get by.
    I guess this all-over-the-place post is to agree with your assessment of some of the TPT materials, but also am wary and worried about public perception of the hours and toil the profession actually takes, and that the use of TPT is gimmicky or lazy rather than a strategy to assist the workload. We all want what’s best for our students and our own children, and are stumbling along the way trying to get by and do what we can for them all.


    1. I appreciate your points here. I agree at times it feels needed just to keep our heads above water. I am not condemning teachers that feel a need to use it as much as the “professional” resource makers that try to pass themselves off as teacher allies while profiting off them. I did not want to contribute to that system any longer. Thanks for the thoughtful comment 😁


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