Teachers as entrepreneurs

Teachers are selling lesson plans, lectures and study guides on teacherspayteachers.com. It’s an “eBay for educators,” AP writes

For a $29.95 yearly fee, sellers can post their work and set their prices. Buyers rate the products.

. . . Need a lesson about the history of China? How about a way to teach the Industrial Revolution through documentary photography? Or a manual for organizing a poetry slam?

They’re all for sale. Many of the items go for only a dollar or so.

. . . Jerry Caveglia, a retired 32-year teaching veteran from the San Francisco area, said he hates to see years of his original lessons go to waste. So he has posted 11 items, from a free list of excellent novels to a $10 unit on American studies.

Even at a few bucks per sale, this could add up. There are a lot of teachers out there.

Via Marginal Revolution.

About Joanne


  1. I could never understand why every teacher is expected to reinvent the wheel. This is like the first stage of an industrial revolution. Next would be to sell video recordings of the actual lessons.

  2. Richard Nieporent says:

    Jerry Caveglia, a retired 32-year teaching veteran from the San Francisco area, said he hates to see years of his original lessons go to waste.

    Luckily nothing has changed in 32 years so everything in his original lessons is still relevant.

  3. Wayne Martin says:

    Why aren’t the lesson plans the property of the school district? Why isn’t the school district making these plans available to other teachers in the district?

    Now .. as for sharing between districts, this sort of idea is interesting, but the issue of who really owns this work product needs to be answered.

    The US DoE might be a good place to create a data base of lesson plans.

  4. Perhaps the only novel thing here is Caveglia’s entrepreneurial bent. There are literally hundreds of online resources and repositories for FREE lesson plans. My local state university keeps a terrific curriculum center in the main library. I’m constantly sharing and swapping lessons with my colleagues both at school and online. A colleague of mine recently retired and left every accumulated lesson plan in binders for the rest of the gang’s use. By and large teachers are a generous bunch.

  5. SuperSub says:

    As for the ownership issue, from my experience with two local districts, lesson plans created by the teacher are the teacher’s property, unless they were created as part of a curriculum design assignment. This is just anecdotal… not sure about elsewhere.

  6. Twill00 says:

    Under plain vanilla copyright law, an author generally owns the copyright to their work product, literally anything they write, unless one of two conditions is true:

    First, if their work is derivative of someone else’s prior work (for instance a simpler restatement of a historical description from a single text), then the copyright holder of the prior work would own the copyright on the derivative work.

    Second, if their work is specifically produced under a “work for hire” arrangement, then the hirer owns all rights to the work. (Curriculum design assignments can be similar to this.)

    If the work is produced as a paid part of your job, there may be some squiggle room for another arrangement, like a shared copyright. But unless preparing lesson plans – to be used by others – is part of your job description, then there would be a strong presumption that they belonged to you.

  7. I think this site is kind of ridiculous. Any of my nation-wide colleagues can email me for ideas for lesson plans for FREE anytime. I’m not going to stop other teachers from developing their skills for the betterment of education in this country so that I might make a monetary profit.

  8. Half Canadian says:

    I work at an online university that offers degrees in elementary/secondary education. The concern here is that students will buy lesson plans and present them as their own.

    We already have a service to detect plagerism, but it’s certain that a number of the plans for sale here would not be in our database.

    Of course, this is a problem that brick-and-mortar schools would have to deal with as well.

  9. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    “Why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free”? There are a gazillion websites of FREE lesson plans, themes, etc., so I personally will pass on this…. But if others wish to pay, knock yourselves out!

  10. SuperSub says:

    Well, I always try to use online sources as inspiration for any new lessons I design… have yet to take one wholly from the Internet. I say kudos to these guys for finding ways to make money… but I don’t think they’ll be too successful because of the generous nature of most teachers.