Students Pay Students


That blog title sounds ridiculous! But if you’re reading this you probably see what I’m getting at here. I’ve got lots of thoughts on TpT, but nothing revolutionary that hasn’t already been said more eloquently by countless others. Make stuff because it makes you better, share the stuff so others can get better too. Seems obvious. But whatever.

This Twitter thread really got me thinking today, thanks to Val Brown for starting the conversation. The article she’s linking to is about teachers making money on Instagram by selling their stuff, mainly on TpT.  If you hadn’t seen the article or this thread, click through, scroll down, read a bit and then come back.

Reading through the replies made me think a lot of things, but the one that stuck with me today and forced me to sit down and write is this: if our students’ “jobs” are school, then aren’t grades their “pay”?  I got here because the concept of “good teaching” came up and the general convo is about teachers making more money in various ways.  So logically, why not pay more for better teaching right?  I love this concept! I get better all the time, so MONEY PLEASE!



But as soon as there’s money involved, everyone wants objectivity. And “good teaching” is not that. You can’t rubricize it! Well, you can define a few things that good teachers do and then try to tie salary to those things. But as soon as you get specific on anything you’ll just start getting a lot of that thing and less trying new things, less innovation. So circling back around to students, the same thing is true for them and their grades. The more I try to define specifically what I want to see from them in exchange for a good grade, the more I see of that thing and the less I see trying new things, less innovation. And this is harmful to kids. Not all kids learn/grow the same way, the same pace, the same amount. And so trying to box it in is futile and dangerous. That’s exactly what grades do.

So putting it all together, here’s my thoughts on both problems:

  1. We have to pay teachers. Duh.
  2. Paying more for “better” teaching is only going to get us more of the same when we know that’s not actually better teaching.
  3. Therefore, pay teachers the same reasonable salary and give them freedom to do what’s best in their classrooms without fear.
  1. We have to give students grades. (I disagree, but it’s my current reality anyway.)
  2. Paying more for “better” learning is only going to get us more of the same when we know that’s not actually better learning.
  3. Therefore, pay students the same reasonable grades and give them freedom to do what’s best in their classrooms without fear.

These positions are not revolutionary. They are simple concepts. Of course the whole thing gets derailed as soon as someone shouts “but that’s not fair!”.  Neither is what we do now, friend. Neither is what we do now. 

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