Lessons For Sale: A New Marketplace for Teachers

Public school teachers are sharing their curriculum online with each other, but for a price.

By Brenda SalinasJune 18, 2015 8:02 am,

Think of it as Etsy for educators. That’s how CEO Adam Freed says some people describe it.

“You can buy so much on Teachers Pay Teachers,” Freed says. “You can find worksheets and activities that are supplementary curriculum…. You can find supplies you’d use in your classroom like cool posters or new ways to tag books for different levels of readers in your classroom,” he says.

Teaching has always been more of a challenge than most non-teachers realize. San Antonio first grade teacher Reagan Tunstall says with state and district requirements changing almost every year, teachers feel endless pressure to keep their material fresh.

“All of the extra things that we need to do – planning for the next week – all happen in the evenings and it takes away that precious family time,” Tunstall says. “So, I think when the state changes things – which they often do…it’s more of a time stealer. We’re planning what we’re doing next and when things are unfamiliar it just takes longer to make sure that we’re hitting all of those objectives and expectations for every student. So, it can be very difficult especially when the year is in full swing and we’re already filling that time crunch.”

Tunstall says she thought ‘I should be compensated for this work.’ She says it was frustrating that all the work that went into planning was used just once.

“In the end, I upload everything. The basic idea is that it’s based on about 10 cents a page but really it kind of depends on the content and the time spent. As a teacher I know budgets are tight so I try to price it very affordably,” Tunstall explains. “Just knowing that other teachers are using it is a huge, just amazing fulfilling feeling, so that’s really what I get out of it.”

If a student buys an essay online, it’s considered cheating. But fourth grade teacher Nina Gufstason says buying lesson plans online isn’t cutting corners.

“It’s definitely different, because you are paying for someone’s ideas,” she says. “I think you’re working smarter not harder. And I think that is where teachers need to move – is to work with each other and not just depend on having to do everything themselves.”

Gufstason says the days are long, she gets to school at 7:15 a.m. and leaves around 7:15 p.m. And the lesson plans are not the only thing on her plate.

“The number one thing is my students and making sure that they’re, you know, taken care of and they’re learning and they’re having fun,” she says. “And so if I can use other people’s great ideas and make that happen, that’s what I should do.”

Gustafson says being a fourth grade teacher comes with a lot of challenges, long hours, rowdy kids, and big messes. But the best part, she says, is knowing that other teachers have your back.