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.