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Teachers Helping Each Other Through Growing Online Marketplace

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Call them “Teacherpreneaurs.” Teachers nationwide and in central Florida have been tapping into a growing online marketplace to buy and share creative lesson plans, games, quizzes and other resources.

Allison Vaughn teaches 2nd grade at Ivy Hawn Charter School of the Arts in Lake Helen. She said she’s paid for items from the site “Teachers Pay Teachers” to liven up the classroom and keep students engaged.

*This text has been edited for clarity and flow

Chavez: You paid for supplies out of your own pocket?

Vaughn: All teachers do for the most part. I mean my school’s really generous with giving us what we ask for, if we have a good need for it but most schools you walk in and you have a blank slate. You have some desks, you have a teacher desk, maybe a bookshelf.

Everything else in regards to decorations, books for the classroom, that’s all us and this is my first year of walking in after a little vacation of raising my girls and you walk in with nothing. You’ve got to, I think I spent like maybe a thousand dollars just to get my classroom started.

Chavez: Wow, of your own money?

Vaughn: Before I even had the paycheck coming in.

Chavez: And what kinds of things are you buying?

Vauhgn: Mostly curriculum resources to make things that the district gives us a little bit more interesting because it’s not the most interesting stuff. You got to engage them. So music supplies, rewards for them to keep them motivated, to keep them interested in school. That’s mostly it.

Supplies too, luckily the parents at my school are really giving. But you don’t see that everywhere. So if I asked my parents ‘hey can you please send us some extra pencils,’ then you have a pack of pencils come in, but you don’t get that at a lot of schools. I’ve been really, really lucky.

Chavez: There is this online resource that teachers do use. Tell me about it.

Vaughn: Since I can remember it’s been Teacher Pay Teachers that we’ve been using. Pretty much three out of four teachers are using it. I don’t think you can go to a teacher and say ‘hey did you get that off Teacher Pay Teachers?’ And them be like ‘What’s that?’ They all know. You can literally walk into a classroom and say ‘I know where you got that from.’

Chavez: What kind of things do you get off that website?

Vaughn: Sometimes you’ll have like different curriculum add-ons, if you have kids that are in second grade but reading at a first grade level, you can find relevant material to help reach them, and to reach those that are reading at fourth grade level even though they’re in second grade. So you can really find anything you need.

Chavez: So what it really is saving is time in creating these items?

Vaughn: Yeah. because you can go on there and say, oh I need reading fluency second grade but then you’ll find prep packets, so it really is like: print. That’s all I have to do and it’s done.

Chavez: So it’s a time saving tool and then is it also affordable for a teacher?

Vaughn: It’s incredibly affordable because I don’t think until this past year I even paid for anything. You can just, the way it’s organized, you can go by how much you want to spend. So, if you’re saying ‘I’m looking for this free,’ you’ll come up with millions of things for free for that particular subject. And there’s lots of great things that are free, a lot of really, really great sellers who I love will always have some samples that will be full samples but just so you get to know what their quality is like.

Chavez: Are there other websites that you find comparable?

Vaughn: No, that’s the one I use. Whenever I have a little extra money, I’m like ‘What can I go buy off Teacher Pay Teachers,’ you know.

Chavez: That’s obviously teachers being creative and helping each other out. Would you say that that is enough, or would you still like to see more funding coming down from the state legislature?

Vaughn: The reason I really like Teacher Pay Teachers is because I know when I do spend money there, it’s going right back to teachers. So I mean, if I’m going to help anybody or give anybody money, I’d rather it go to teachers than back to the district.

Chavez: I see, it goes straight to the teacher.

Vaughn: It goes to the teacher’s pocket. So if I’m helping, they’re giving me exactly what I need for my classroom and if I’m going to help put money back into their classroom, it just seems like a win-win for me.

Ivy Hawn is one of the first schools to try a new initiative from Teachers Pay Teachers that allows schools to participate and foot the bill instead of individual teachers.

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About Crystal Chavez

Crystal Chavez