When I think about how I have grown as a teacher over the years, I can confidently say that selling on Teachers Pay Teachers has made me a better teacher.
I have always loved creating teaching resources, and it is something I did for my classroom long before I knew what TpT was. I created materials that I thought best met the needs of my students and challenged them in ways to continue growing. I am a little particular in wanting resources to match my exact need for my classroom, so I created my own. Once when I discovered TpT, it seemed like a natural progression to post the resources I created for other educators to use.
I started selling on TpT because I thought it was fun to create and it didn’t sound like a bad idea to generate some “fun” money. What I never realized was how much selling on Teachers Pay Teachers would make me a better educator.
Here are my top 5 ways that being a TpT seller has made me a better teacher.
Improved quality of resources
While I don’t think the original activities I created were poorly made, I do know that a lot more goes into my current designs. Not only has the visual look of my products improved, but so has the academic quality.
When creating only for my classroom, I often created resources on the fly. I didn’t necessarily put in any additional thought other than, “What will my students need today, tomorrow, or next week?”
In order to sell my products, I take extra time to proofread and ensure directions are clear. I think about ways to enhance my resources to include options for differentiation. These added features have been an enormous benefit to my students and have helped me improve my teaching. It also means that instead of creating an activity 10 minutes before school starts, I have thoroughly thought out the different resources I use.
Thinking of my resources being used across the country and even the globe has required me to think about the impact my resources can have. I am no longer just thinking about my own set of students, but rather students on a global level.
For example, my students learn about Native Americans as part of our social studies curriculum. Back in 2011, I wanted to connect this unit with understanding text structure. This would become my very first paid product on Teachers Pay Teachers. However, when I used this product with my students, I did not critically think about the clip art used in my resource. I grabbed any “Native American” clip art I could find and printed off my activity.
However, to sell in the marketplace, I was forced to look at my resource with a more careful and critical lens. I changed the clip art and made more culturally-sensitive choices. This not only improved my students’ experience as they were given more culturally sensitive practice, but also made my resource more appropriate for others to use, too.
I believe I would have learned how to use a more critical lens regardless, but selling my resources really helped me keep this in the forefront of my mind and really stressed the impact. Now, whether I am creating something quickly for my students, adding a new resource to my store, or selecting a curriculum for my students, I try to be mindful and culturally sensitive.
Willingness to Try New Things
Part of standing out on TpT is making sure that resources and ideas are unique. While I think I have always been creative, selling products encourages me to think about unique ways to present information. This in turn means I am trying new formats or new ideas with my students.
For example, one of my favorite product lines started out as a new idea with my students. I created a scavenger hunt to use in math class similar to the ice breaker game where you have to complete a bingo card by finding people who meet certain criteria. However, in my scavenger hunt, each student received a decimal name and students searched for decimals that met certain criteria.
Students loved being able to get up, walk around, and work together to solve different decimal problems. It felt much more like a game than it did a worksheet. I also enjoyed walking around, listening to students’ thinking, and not having an extra paper to grade.
The students enjoyed the activity so much that I created versions to review all the major math concepts in this way.
I am looking forward to adding new ideas that I will be creating at some point. My wheels are always turning, and my students benefit from this creativity and willingness to try something different.
Being Up-To-Date with Teaching Practices
As educators, we know that teaching practices are constantly changing. I wouldn’t want to be selling out-of-date resources, so I try to stay up to date. Paying close attention to new ideas and strategies has allowed me to bring new ideas into my classroom right away. In fact, I am usually one of the first teachers in my school to try out new practices.
For example, when the Growth Mindset became such a large focus in education, I jumped right in. I read about it, took a course, and started incorporating Growth Mindset ideas into my classroom. It would be a few years later that my school took this initiative. Due to my knowledge already, I was able to serve on the committee in charge of Growth Mindset PD for my school.
Connections to other educators
I might have saved the best for last. As part of being a seller on TpT, I have social media accounts on both Facebook and Instagram. While, the original intent was to market my resources, but being connected to the teacher community has been extremely beneficial to me as a teacher.
It has allowed me to collaborate with teachers around the world to develop lesson plans, try a new strategy, or look for encouragement. I have found book recommendations, lesson ideas, and overall support from my teaching colleagues on social media.
Overall, I feel so lucky to have started a journey on TpT, and reflecting on my professional practices, I know that TpT has positively impacted me as I continue to grow as an educator. If you currently sell resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, I would love to hear how it has impacted you in the classroom!
Make every teaching moment count,