What does the rise of the teacherpreneur mean for our schools? Is it a good thing that hundreds of thousands of teachers are unrolling curriculum websites, hosting Twitter chats on literacy, Instagramming inspirational quotations, designing interactive notebook templates, and stepping in front of video cameras to show off their latest projects?
Based on five years of experience as a teacherpreneur married to a teacher, I’d have to say the answer is clear. Yes. It is good for everyone, and here’s why…
1. Teaching ideas are everywhere, so let’s share!
When I first started teaching, I looked everywhere for ideas. I talked teaching to everyone, hit up the education shelves, attended conferences near and far.
Fast-forward more than a decade and new teachers can get all the information I found and more by powering up. Looking for a fresh way to introduce a program? Surf through Pinterest. Stressed out by standardized testing? Get inspired by Instagram feeds. Need a new classroom strategy? Listen to a teacher podcast or subscribe to a Youtube channel.
Though it’s possible all this would exist on some level without the rise of the businesses behind it, teacherpreneurs are pouring free content and support into their professions. It’s hard to imagine anyone could find the time if they didn’t see it as a work investment.
2. The content you need is at your fingertips.
The best advice I got for attending conferences when I was a new teacher was to speed-visit all the sessions. “Go for five minutes,” said my colleagues, “and grab the packet.” I flew across the country and spent hundreds of dollars in large part so I could gain fifty or so randomly assorted packets of curriculum ideas. And they were great, but were they exactly what I needed for that hole in my course on American identity? Did they solve my problem with discussion in my second rotation? No.
These days you can get help from other teachers by purchasing or downloading (free) curriculum to fill precisely the need you have. Instead of gambling hundreds on a conference, you can shop around and purchase a packet for ten dollars that does exactly what you and your students need.
3. New skills are meant to be shared.
Suddenly schools have an infusion of teachers who can record video, design graphics, create podcasts, customize HTML, start a social media campaign and easily network with other teachers around the world. These teachers can lead professional development sessions, help schools with their publicity, design posters and launch advertising for school events.
A teacherpreneur could teach an elective on social media and help students set up online accounts for the school. A teacherpreneur could create video versions of professional development sessions and build a library of online lessons for new teachers. The range of skills teacherpreneurs are bringing into their communities is now available for smart administrators to tap.
4. Empowerment and motivation for teachers is a good thing.
The old “teacher’s salary” joke may no longer apply. With the potential to earn a side income for the work they are doing while also helping teachers around the world, many teachers suddenly feel empowered and motivated to do more. As they design curriculum for others, generate new teaching strategies to blog or tweet about, and up their game in terms of tech skills, these teachers gain confidence and financial security.
In a career path that too often ends in feeling blamed and burned out, a movement that brings these positive benefits to teachers is a good thing. No doubt increased earning potential will also help attract more bright young people to the profession.
5. Community is always important.
No longer do teachers have to feel alone in their work. Sure, you’ll rarely catch a colleague for longer than five minutes in the faculty lounge, and lunch and passing times are as full as ever of last minute tutoring, club meetings, and athletic practices. But with engaged Facebook pages and groups, Twitter chats, e-mail newsletters, Pinterest feeds and more, teachers can easily surround themselves with a steady stream of support and fresh ideas. And this is largely thanks to the teacherpreneur.
What are your thoughts on teacherpreneurship? Please share in the comments.