I’ve always been happy to share my lessons with my partner teacher, especially since this is only her second year. Recently, however, I discovered one of my activities on Teachers Pay Teachers. After some digging, I found she has uploaded nearly all of my lessons and is selling the resources I created for between $5 and $15. I’m livid. What do I do? —Hi I’d Like to Report an Intellectual Burglary
Before talking to anyone about it, take lots of screen shots of your products on her page. Maybe even download a couple of products just to be sure they’re yours and to see how close they are to your original content. You may or may not need it later.
I wouldn’t judge you for storming into an administrator’s office in the heat of the moment. But since it’s very likely you’ll have to continue working with this teacher, I’d hear her out first.
Don’t interrogate or try to trap her. Say, “Hey, I was looking online for extension activities for our new unit and found one of the resources I created and shared with you for sale on your Teachers Pay Teachers page. I was really hurt to see that you’re profiting from things I shared with you out of kindness.” Stop there and listen for her explanation.
Then tell her what you want done to make things right. If you feel good about reaching an agreement, great. But if she deflects, insists there’s nothing wrong, or refuses to take your work down, it’s time to tell an administrator. It’s a dicey situation from many angles, namely the amount of money involved and whether she’s used school devices to profit from her TPT store (a fireable offense in many districts).
Bottom line: She needs to be held accountable for what were a series of unethical decisions. Whether that’s resolved with you or whether administration gets involved will be up to her.
I have a coworker in my department that we all secretly call The Bearer—as in the bearer of bad news—because she seems to love bumming us out. She tells us when students tell her disparaging things about us or our classes, the mean things parents write about us in online reviews, and the gossip she hears about what administrators think of us. How do we get her to stop? —Can’t Bear the Bearer
My mom (whom I love dearly) does this. She loves to tell me how furious she gets about the boneheaded comments on my more contentious opinion pieces. “Did you see the one where the lady from Iowa said she zoomed in on your profile picture and you could use some eyebrow threading?” No, I didn’t, Mom. And I was living my life in beautiful bushy-browed ignorance until you mentioned it.
What I’ve discovered with my mom and others who practice this bizarre habit is that they’re not doing it to be malicious. They likely don’t realize—however obvious it seems to us—that we don’t just laugh off these negative comments and go about our day. They might even think we want to know the negative things people say about us. Is it possible they’re wielding mean things as a passive-aggressive way to tell us to better ourselves in some way? Maybe. But the solution is so easy for both types of naysayers that it’s not worth finding out.
The next time The Bearer tells you something you could have lived your life happily not knowing, say gently (maybe even laughingly), “Lauren. I love you. But if you tell me any more mean things people say about me, my heart will shatter and the pieces will scatter in the wind.” If she continues to do it, you can set a more firm boundary in private (“Hey, I know I may have sounded joke-y the last time I brought up this topic, but I really mean it. It hurts my feelings.”) But a gentle heads-up is a good place to start if a full-on serious convo feels too awkward.
I was complaining to my coworker the other day about a sub, and she mentioned that she sets up a hidden camera when she has a substitute teacher to watch her kids’ and the sub’s behavior. I was so taken aback I didn’t know what to say. What do I do with this information? —Feeling Grossly Gross
Ew! (Said with the intonation of Alexis Rose.)
I don’t like this. What information could a camera give her that a sub couldn’t? Or if it’s to watch the sub, how would she report misconduct without revealing she had been secretly filming? And where is that footage now?
On one hand, it seems like if she’s talking openly about her hidden camera with you, she doesn’t realize what a huge liability it would be for someone to find. But on the other hand, it’s hard for me to imagine any educator not understanding why this would be a huge breach of privacy that could easily result in termination.
In any case, I’d tell my department chair and document that you’ve done so. Even if this is just a grave error from an otherwise fantastic teacher (which, again, I’m trying and failing to picture all the fantastic teachers I know setting up a hidden camera in their classes), you don’t want to risk your licensure in not reporting something like this.
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Lately my partner teacher has been asking me to cover when she leaves half an hour early to go to her other job, or watch her class while she takes a call for her other job. Our contract is pretty clear that we can’t be employed somewhere else that conflicts with our teaching position. Should I tell someone? —At Capacity in Rapid City