What are we selling?

I get countless emails from different teacher resources places. Some good, some bad but all have something related. They are selling something. PD Books, Create Your Own Worksheet Memberships, Penguin Clip Art, Online “engagement” tools. You name it in this day and age someone is selling it, all under the guise of benefiting students.

I have ranted about TPT and the system that has been created where teachers are spending more time making resources to sell to other teachers than they are investing in their own practice. After all, investing in learning costs money but selling a 5-star penguin clip art activity that you likely ripped from some free clip art site and just arranged around some fill in the blanks, can be sold for an easy $1.99. You must sell a lot of 1.99 clipart crap to make some money especially since for hosting TPT take like 40% off the top.

This creates another problem. When I started my hobby of photography way back in my younger day I was told, “charge more even if you are not good, people will think you are” It gives me chills to think about the for-profit teacher resource world and that those people and companies have followed this thinking as well.

In talking with my wife’s friend she said her child has to do Lexia each night, even though she does not need it, because the school wants to qualify for a grant that is available if all students meet some usage requirement. In talking to an actual Lexia rep they said that was not their intention for their product but it does in fact happen.

I can’t help but wonder if teachers would be so inclined to have their students doing unnecessary computer work if the promise of potential cash was removed? I also wonder if these companies know the answer and so they have these grants available to keep teachers, desperate for cash, on the hook.

I spend a TON of money out of pocket every year. I don’t mind, I have the money but not all teachers do. They have families, they have other expenses and they can’t afford to put in Amazon orders weekly for their library or drop a couple hundred on supplies each year.

I was talking to a co-worker and she made a powerful observation. When asked why she thought teachers are willing to put aside their beliefs and conscience for the promise of a grant she said, “Well it is a lot easier than a bake sale”

It is that simple we are willing to sell our conscience, our professional beliefs and our students chance for joyful learning experience because of convenience. I don’t know if this is the intention if we are not just all stretched so thin so we think that these promises, these emails, these “answers” are just the golden ticket.

When we look at learning experiences do we want it to be bought out of a box? Do we want screens and clicks and clipart? Or do we want students interacting with a text, with each other? At the start of the year, I asked my students what they wanted out of the year.  No Lexia No worksheets. I have not had to sell them on what we are doing because it is authentic, I try for it to be fun and exciting. No one ever needs to sell students on the fun.

What are we selling?

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