TeachersPayTeachers: A Blessing or a Curse?
Do you use TeachersPayTeachers?
I have to start out by saying, I love TpT. What a brilliant idea to have teachers share (and get paid for) their creativity! We all know, the best and most creative ideas in education come from teachers in the trenches. But, TpT is not all sunshine and roses.
There are so many wonderful things about sharing what we've done well.
- Other teachers benefit from your gifts. They improve upon what you've done and make it even better.
- It saves time to use something that is already done.
- Inspiration. Seeing what others are doing can sometimes inspire us in our own thinking and teaching.
- There are wonderful "extras" on TpT like labels, fonts and other things that help teachers be creative.
Here's the trouble with TpT.
- Plug and play with TpT products. When teachers buy cute activities without really thinking about how it fits into what they're trying to accomplish, those products hinder learning. Something really great can become busy work when not used thoughtfully with the rest of our curriculum.
- TpT products, while helpful, can sometimes dumb down a teacher's creativity. When someone else has done all the work, we don't have to be creative. Using someone else's stuff can steal an opportunity from us to be creative without our even knowing.
- There is more junk out there than truly great stuff. A lot of what is on TpT is cute, fun, busy work. Worksheets galore. If you know me, you know worksheets are something I rarely use or recommend. Certainly, there is a time and a place for worksheets. But for most things, I believe students should create their own work, not fill in the blanks, no matter how much better the end product will "look". I love messy student work that shows they really thought and worked hard and so do students.
So how can we use TpT in ways that are beneficial?
- Planning. Work out a master plan for our units and lessons first, and then, find products that will enhance our overall vision.
- Never plug and play an entire unit without comparing it to our standards and our master plan for the year. Always add our own creativity to it. Incorporate the other resources we have (personalize it to fit us and our classes).
- Don't be lured in by cute. Avoid worksheets and busy work. We need to make sure there is substance to what we are purchasing. If our students can create their own papers, it's more meaningful for them to do so. It might not look as cute as that form or worksheet you saw, but the learning will be better.
So, go ahead and use TeachersPayTeachers. Just use it thoughtfully.