Oh friends! My heart is literally pounding for I am angry! Irritated! Astounded! And no,before you jump to conclusions, this has NOTHING to do with the Bacon Hunter! (Surprised?)
Today I am angry because I finally read the story from Sunday's New York Times (MASSIVE kitchen re-organizing took over my life this weekend....grueling and intense, but well worth it. I do heart an organized kitchen!!). Did you see this article? If you didn't, you can check it out here. It's the one questioning whether or not teachers should be allowed to sell their own lesson plans for profit or whether said lesson plans are actually property of the school. I'll give you a moment to read and for my heart to slow down. I think I'll have a seat (prior to now, you should have imagined me pacing and ranting) and put my head between my knees.
Ready? I'm feeling a little better now (thank you for asking). Where to begin? I think you can guess where Mrs. Mimi stands on this one! And while I encourage free debate in my comments, may I ask you to choose your words very carefully (VERY. CAREFULLY.) if you choose to comment (read: disagree with me) today.
Basically there are many, such as the fine people over at Teachers Pay Teachers (shout out to former NYC teachers....holla!), who believe that yes, this work and these ideas do indeed belong to the teacher. This is probably because these people recognize that most teachers (if not all teachers) create their lesson plans OUTSIDE of school and/or AFTER 3:00. They do this because there isn't even one single second of time during the day where they might be able to sit down and work out anything coherent...you know, 'cuz their days are filled with things like um, teaching, meeting after meeting after meeting, working with children who need extra help, frantically running to the photo copier, desperately trying to catch up on data collecting, or, you know, eating or peeing. JUST TO NAME A FEW.
One d-bag quoted in the article (I am debating about whether or not to name him here because he IS named in the article....um, hi, target on your back much? But, have decided he doesn't even DESERVE naming here in my space - a TEACHER'S space. So we will call him Mr. D-Bag In A Suit since I feel there is no way he is not dry clean only...meaning, there is no way he has ever got down on a floor and worked with an actual child so why doesn't he keep his mouth SHUT!) said that he believes if the materials are created with school district resources that the school district should share in a portion of the profits.
(cover your ears)
1) How many RESOURCES have teachers actually purchased themselves to be used in said district with said district children? Does the district ever worry about that?
2) I guess if a teacher is literally copying an already published lesson out of district purchased curriculum guide, than yes. But honestly, we are SO MUCH SMARTER THAN THAT! I've taken a gander at some of the materials offered and they appear to be original material with ideas original to the teacher.
3) If Mr. D-Bag In A Suit is so worried about equal compensation for the possible/alleged use of district resources, then is he also concerned with the equal compensation of teachers for their use of non-school time to create these lesson plans (also known as over time?) I mean, I had to punch a time clock (true story) reinforcing that I was only paid for the hours between 8 and 3 while also cementing the idea that I was perceived as a contractually bound unionized worker (whether I wanted to be or not), rather than a true professional. I'm sure true professionals, who are paid true professional wages, would have no problem with working after the children went home. However, we are not considered true professionals in the eyes of too many, are definitely not compensated as true professionals and therefore feel free to complain about suggestions made my douche bags implying that we should share profits made from intellectual property created on our own time. BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHAT?? WE MAY COMPLAIN ABOUT THE EXTRA HOURS BUT WE ALWAYS DO IT ANYWAY BECAUSE WE ARE FABULOUS! (I am aware that I have started yelling.) (Phew. Must take breath.)
But while I'm all heated up, let's move onto another genius bit of commentary....a gem I found in the comments section of this article. An actual professor (of what I don't know) stated that teachers constantly complain about working 40 plus hours a week because evidently he thinks that teachers are the only ones who complain about their hours at work. I don't know about you, but I have heard plenty of people in plenty of careers bitch plenty about their lack of a work/life balance. This individual then moved on to state that teachers are desperate to be considered professionals but are unwilling to incur the obligations of true professionals. Um....exactly what does this guy think we SHOULD be doing that we are currently NOT doing? Because my plate always felt insanely full - both with teaching related tasks as well as the tasks of some of the lazy shmoes around me. Does this fool mean that I should be wearing more dry clean only clothing? Or is he going to rely on the old "you get summers off and therefore aren't a professional person" argument. NEWSFLASH ASSHAT - WE DID NOT ASK FOR/BEG/OR DECIDE TO HAVE SUMMERS OFF....IT HAS BEEN THAT WAY FOREVER! (And if you, Mr. Professor, snap back with a witty retort such as "well, summers off are why you got into teaching in the first place", I shall have to slap you. Hard.)
However, the article also includes the lovely story of a veteran teacher who gave thirty years of her life to this career. After putting her own original lesson plans up for sale, she was able to finally realize her dream of redoing her kitchen. A dream which a teacher's salary alone could not support. Now the lesson plan sales may not have paid for all of it, but that money certainly helped.
The article also includes the stories of several other current teachers many of whom use the extra funds to purchase materials for their classrooms or treats for their students. (Many of these materials are necessary for excellent instruction, yet were evidently not provided by the district with district funds. Just thought I'd point that out for Mr. DBIAS.) Yes, there are a few stories of teachers going out to dinner or (gasp!) making mortgage payments, but I think we can all agree that teachers deserve a few simple pleasures such as food and shelter, can't we?
There was also talk in the article of how charging for lesson plan ideas cheapens the field of teaching which thrives on the free exchange of ideas. I don't know about you, but when I was teaching, I gave away plenty of my own ideas to my colleagues (super or not) for free all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. Of course we don't charge to share with one another in the same building. However, having a market place where teachers can share and profit from their ideas with colleagues around the world whom they have never met is a totally different ball game. (In my opinion.) Yes, you can find resources for free or you can choose to spend a little money on them. To me, it's no different than going out and buying a book on reading comprehension to help beef up your instruction.
There is the implication that such an exchange will encourage teachers to be lazy (I HATE that so many people assume we are lazy...what is THAT about?) and add no original thought to the work, basically poaching the ideas of others to make their job easier. First of all, too many school districts are purchasing scripted curriculum which rob teachers of the ability to think for themselves or cater instruction to their children so clearly, many school districts don't have a problem with teachers simply reading from a script. (I have a problem with this, but we'll save that for another day.) So to those school districts, I say "quit your bitching." To others who believe that too many teachers are simply hitting print and listlessly going through the motions....well, that makes me sad. That may be happening in some places, but resources such as TeachersPayTeachers did not create that problem. Yet, this line of thinking doesn't consider that many teachers are also using these resources as a starting point which they will adapt to their own style and the needs of their current students. Why reinvent the wheel? Why not benefit from the shared ideas of other professionals even if it is at a minimal financial cost? Is that any different than using a free lesson plan to jump start you thinking about a new unit? Or using a published book to change the way you teach? I don't think it is.
What do you all think? I know that in Mrs. Mimi's new website (coming soon!!) there will definitely be a space for teachers to exchange ideas and lesson plans -some for free and some for profit. I think it's a way to acknowledge hard work and compensate excellent teachers for their contributions.