I’m catching up on old NCTE Inbox articles today. Since my computer died two weeks ago, I have had even less opportunity to read email newsletters. When you share a computer (or would have to stay late or come early to school), people are less likely to let you sit and read for long stretches of time.
Today, I read an NYT article from mid-November about the practice of teachers selling lesson plans online. I hadn’t realized there was a controversy. I am a big fan of ReadWriteThink.org, and I use other free lesson plans to support my own all time. Simply basing my discussions off the recommendations in the margins of my teacher’s editions is using someone else’s ideas to help me teach. If I ask my mentor teacher for help, he is giving me ideas. Who would expect me to come up with everything from scratch?
When teachers with classroom experience go to work for education companies (like those who have been selling prepackaged units for ages, or even textbook publishers), it makes sense that they take their experience and lessons along with them. No one expects to pick up a lesson plan or unit and do exactly what it says; something always needs adjusting. The problem seems to be in selling those lessons. If you have used ideas from another teacher or your textbook, that person deserves the credit. But if it’s your idea, and you don’t want to give it away for free, don’t. It’s a simple concept for every other profession: why not teaching?