Ten years ago, it might have been true that teaching and tutoring in schools was the only source of income as a teacher. Now, thanks to technology, teachers are able to earn extra pocket money. The idea of “sharing as a business” has helped teachers like Deanna Jump and her education philosophy become popular, as well as brought her a huge extra income (she’s currently earning $60K per month on TeachersPayTeachers, according to the startup’s founder, Paul Edelman).
TeachersPayTeachers has been growing quickly since it was founded in 2006 (see the transaction chart below). Edelman reported that sales of the company are growing at an average of 300 percent annually. The business model is a subscription–based “co-earn” system: teachers could either choose a free plan that keeps 60% of their earnings, or pay $57 annually to keep 85% of their earnings. In what appeared to be a surprising move, TpT established a self-sustaining business model that is not reliant on external investment-- a lesson for future startups.
So, could such disruptive models potentially improve teacher quality? The initiative, which blossomed out of the idea of sharing, is good by all means. Upon realizing its potential power to change the teaching community, the American Federation of Teachers was inspired to create a free website, called sharemylesson.com , where teachers can share curriculum materials with one another. This affords opportunities for teachers, especially those who lack resources, to implement new lessons based on national curriculum standards in English and math. The benefit to this approach is that teachers are able to adapt the tried-and-true lessons of their peers to their own classes, rather than spending a lot of time creating their own (which may or may not be successful). Still, some teachers kept a step back from this free model as they were hesitant to simply “give away materials they have spent years fine-tuning.” This opened the gateway for paid models like TeachersPayTeachers. The economic achievements can be a new motivation for teachers to share their knowledge, experience, and skills.