Saturday, November 14, 2009

Good For Them

I applaud these teachers who have found a way to make a little extra money by selling their lesson plans online. To administrators who think that school districts should get a cut of the profits from the sale of teachers' original work, I say go jump in a lake.* If it's their original work, they own it and have every right to sell it. I especially applaud teachers for developing and selling lesson plans intended to modify scripted curricula like Open Court and Saxon Math.

The article contains no mention of the rise of scripted curricula, but I can imagine that it is a significant factor in driving online lesson plan sales. When I was a teacher, I would gladly have paid $50 for a unit plan called "Squeeze Some Meaningful Learning Out of This Crappy Open Court Unit Without Losing Your Mind." Or better yet, "A Beginner's Guide to Unspiraling Saxon Math."

I laughed when I read the quotation from Joseph McDonald, a professor of education at NYU: "“Teachers swapping ideas with one another, that’s a great thing,” he said. “But somebody asking 75 cents for a word puzzle reduces the power of the learning community and is ultimately destructive to the profession.”

Yep, nothing undermines the profession of teaching like regular teachers acting as if their own intellectual work is a valuable resource. They should all give it away for free because teaching is an altruistic calling, not a profession. That way, we can keep treating teachers like volunteers who do what they do purely out of the goodness of their hearts, rather than treating them like professionals who create original work and deserve to be rewarded for it.

* I should make it clear that I am assuming that most of the work in creating these lesson plans goes on outside of classroom time. When I was an elementary school teacher in California, I was compensated for one hour of prep time per week. I spent many, many more hours than that writing lesson plans. Other teachers refused to do unpaid prep because it undermined their bargaining position with the district, and I respect their decision to work only during those hours for which they were paid. The district treated us like contractors — we were given a budget of $125 per semester, which barely covered copy paper and whiteboard markers. My first year, I spent about $2,000 of my own money outfitting an undersupplied classroom with what I considered to be the bare essentials (pencils, a pencil sharpener, crayons, writing paper, construction paper, chart paper, used books, rulers, scissors, glue sticks, folders) and reasonable extras (paint, paintbrushes, magnifying glasses, supplies for science experiments, new books, a decent dictionary, pillows for the reading area, magnets for the whiteboard, jump ropes, playground balls, etc.). Family members kicked in for special extras — my students particularly loved the finger puppets purchased for them by my mother-in-law. I claimed the federal maximum ($250) on my taxes.

2 comments:

RJO said...

> "“Teachers swapping ideas with one another, that’s a great thing,” he said. “But somebody asking 75 cents for a word puzzle reduces the power of the learning community and is ultimately destructive to the profession.”

Ha, spoken like someone with a fat salary and lifetime job security.

kfrancher said...

Excellent post. In the 35 years I was in that business (education) it was always the same. Any sort of innovation was usually quashed because "We've always done it this way". Administration has now been reduced to endless paperwork to insure compliance to legislation.

Too bad, but you're a good example of the negative selection we use. We hire all sorts of people but succeed in running off most of best. Very discouraging.