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Cracking Prep With TeachersPayTeachers

By Cait Etherington
July 18, 2019

Anyone who has ever taught at the K-12 or postsecondary level will appreciate that one of the most time-consuming but least-celebrated parts of any teaching job is the preparation. Most prep is only partially compensated and much of it takes place at home. Now, one company–TeachersPayTeachers–is helping teachers crack the prep problem and make money in the process.

Teachers Are Compensated for a Fraction of Prep Time

A 2016 survey carried out by the National Council on Teacher Quality found that most teachers are only compensated for 45 minutes of prep time each day. While this may sound like a lot of time to someone who has never taught, given that most k-12 teachers have a 7.5-hour workday and spend much of that time in the classroom, 45 minutes is actually just the tip of the iceberg. If only given 45 minutes to prepare for an entire day of teaching, teachers need to prepare for each hour of instructional time in less than 10 minutes. In reality, it can often take over an hour to just prepare a one-hour lesson and copy just a few worksheets.

To make matters worse, the National Council on Teacher Quality found notable disparities across districts. While 45 minutes of prep time may be the average, some elementary teachers are given just 15 minutes of prep time each day. Others are given up to 75 minutes. Likewise, at the secondary level, average daily prep times range from 30 to 75 minutes.

To be fair, over time, most teachers do develop an archive of curricular materials to which they can return each year. For new teachers, however, prep time remains a major obstacle to their success. Over a decade ago, a study carried out by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future found that over half of teachers quit the profession during their first five years. Along with low compensation, inadequate prep time is often cited as a reason.

The TeachersPayTeachers Solution

TeachersPayTeachers was founded by former teacher Paul Edelman. When Edelman started teaching back in 2001, he soon realized that the best curricular resources were those produced by other teachers. The problem was finding these resources outside his own network. This led Edelman to establish TeachersPayTeachers in 2006. The online platform enables teachers to find great resources online anytime and from any location.

In addition, the platform was designed to help teachers earn a bit of extra money on the side. But some teachers did more than top up their salaries. In 2012, Mashable reported than one TeachersPayTeachers user–Deanna Jump, a kindergarten teacher from Georgia–had made a staggering $700,000 selling her lesson plans online. Notably, Georgia is home to some of the most poorly compensated teachers in the United States. In 2018, the mean average salary for a kindergarten teacher in Georgia was still just over $54,000.

While Jump’s exceptionally high revenue may be an exception, she is not alone in her decision to turn to TeachersPayTeachers. The company claims that three out of four teachers working in the United States, Canada, and Australia now rely on the platform. Parents and tutors also turn to the platform to locate quality curricular resources. But the platform’s popularity among educators, tutors, and parents should not come as a surprise. It currently has more than 2 million curricular resources available for download and most can be purchased for just a few dollars.

Beyond attracting educators, tutors, and parents, TeachersPayTeachers also continues to do well on the investment front. Tiger Global Management and Spectrum Equity are among the platforms’ more recent investors. While TeachersPayTeachers has run into some minor problems regarding copyright infringement, by and large, the site continues to thrive by helping teachers save time and top up their incomes.

Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash.

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