Have you ever found yourself wondering just how much you can rely on the materials found on Teachers Pay Teachers? Or maybe you have purchased a resource from there that was inaccurate and full of typos. Perhaps you have an administrator who says you aren’t allowed to purchase from there or maybe your district has the site blocked. These are all very valid concerns and situations that teachers face. It really does make us wonder, can we trust resources from Teachers Pay Teachers?
Why Some Administrators Do Not Trust Resources from TpT
If you were to venture over to Teachers Pay Teachers you would find a variety of resources. Some administrators would say that resources on TpT that are not researched-based. I’ve heard administrators (and even some teachers) say that there are too many worksheets, too many “cute” resources, and none that are verified, published work, or “vetted.” They are partly right.
Before I explain, I have to tell you a story. When I first started selling my resources on TpT, I had this idea that I would just take materials that I was creating for my classroom and upload them on TpT. Then as time went on, I thought I must need to make them “cute” to sell them. So I bought a ton of clip art and added it to everything. Would I have used a ton of clip art on my own worksheets or materials in the classroom? No, because I think it would be a bit too distracting to my students and it’s not important – the content was. As time went on, I researched and started getting a bit more serious about selling on TpT. I realized that if I was going to put my name on things, I definitely wanted to be reputable. I didn’t want to be known for too much clip art, mistakes, or false information. I didn’t want to mislead other classes. I began researching and making sure my materials I was selling was truly research-based and proven practices or methods. (I even test them out first in the classroom.) My journey on TpT went from poor quality to a higher quality.
So to explain the administrators, there are some materials on TpT that are not of high quality, yes. Maybe they are just starting out. Is it justifiable? No. When those people don’t sell, they’ll research why (like I did) and they’ll improve (hopefully). But there are a lot, and I mean A LOT, of sellers on TpT that have trusted resources. In fact, some regularly present at conferences for school districts, and some have published books! Each seller has a profile that administrators can read to get an understanding of that seller’s experience. Ultimately, that’s the most important thing. 99% of the sellers on TpT have classroom experience.
Addressing the Concerns of Using Resources from TpT
The reality is that we currently reside in a career where teachers are often undervalued and misjudged. Districts often do not have enough money for the training or materials that we need. We often pay waaaaaaaaay more out of our pocket then we ever should for materials and don’t even get me started on all the time we spend. But we keep doing what we do because of our students. We love our students and we want to make school the best we can for them, while still meeting the standards and their needs.
I truly believe that technology, such as having Pinterest and TpT, has helped us do just that. They’ve allowed ways for us to collaborate a lot more with other teachers (yes, some are selling, but you are still getting great ideas while helping another fellow teacher out). This is really important, especially if you work with a “team” that doesn’t like to share ideas. TpT helps you save time so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It helps you engage your students and introduces you to ideas you may not have thought of otherwise.
There will be times that you will purchase a product from TpT with typos; Hands-down. I’m not making excuses but the fact is that when you look at a product for hours and hours and days and days… well, your brain starts to fill stuff in and your eyes get tired. I have started hiring editors for my work (but my older work is still in progress of getting updated), but not everyone has editors. You can find typos in even published work… It’s just a fact of life. If it’s really, really bad, please let the seller know in a Q&A or feedback. Most sellers will fix it right away and re-upload it for you. It also allows a perfect teachable moment with your class, right?
This is a tough one. Honestly, if you bought something from someone who was not accurate, I don’t think I would buy from them again. I would definitely let the seller know in the feedback. That’s why it’s so critical for sellers to make sure they are researching and checking to make sure they are truly aware of what they are selling! Check the reviews, check the profile for credentials, check the preview. If it’s really, really bad… ask for a refund. 🙁
The 4.0 Ratings
Let’s talk about those reviews for a minute. If you have read my 10 Things Teachers Need to Know About TpT, you’ll know I take feedback very serious. I actually don’t want just a straight 4.0 rating. I think sometimes sellers get hung up on the fact that if they don’t have a 4.0, no one will buy from them. I guess that could be true, but in my mind if it’s only a 4.0 are teachers wondering if it’s truly an accurate representation of the product? Especially when everyone is getting a 4.0? TpT is trying to come up with an alternative solution, but until then consider reading the feedback instead of looking at the numbers.
Too Many Worksheets
The TpT community of sellers have been working against this. We are striving to create quality products that are more than just a pile of worksheets. We want to create high-quality, top-notch activities that are going to help your students really enjoy learning, help you save time, and boost your scores (but only because you have to). While there are worksheets on the site, there are MANY other things, too. But the reality is as a teacher you sometimes have to use worksheets. And ultimately, you make the final buying decision, right?
The Ink When Printing… OMG!
Yes, I get this one. When I first started selling products I use to get reviews like, “It would have been nice to have a black and white version!” I love color so I was only thinking how pretty it would be. (Now I include black and white for everything.) A lot of teachers make alternative versions for you and digital products are the newest wave. They are really starting to pop up all over TpT. Another option is to project one copy on your Doc Cam. We are teachers; we can get pretty creative on how we present stuff.
Doesn’t Meet Your Students’ Needs
Wrong. I’m sorry, but I have to be beyond blunt here. I think if anything you have a greater chance of meeting your students’ needs by going to TpT. Here’s why: On TpT there is a wide range of sellers. There are counselors, occupational therapists, and special education sellers (just to name a few). You can easily get materials for any grade level. So if you are looking for materials where some of your students are reading at a 2nd-grade level and others are at a 4th grade, you are all set! There is no hunting down teachers in your building or district.
Not Researched-Based or Standards Aligned
While I suppose this is true for a small handful of teachers that sell, it is not for most. I can think of many, many sellers that put a lot of hard work into researching for their products (including me, that’s why it takes me a long time to put out new products). Many sellers are still in the classroom and need to make sure they are aligned to the standards themselves to use them. If you read the product descriptions they are likely to describe that information in it. Just as you would with any material you have, you should look it over to verify it matches the standards you are teaching (including those textbooks you have in your classroom).
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is this: in your classroom you should be teaching the standards, not the textbook or whatever published trusted materials your administration has given you. As a teacher, you should trust your judgment enough (even when administration may not) to determine what will help meet your students’ needs to learn those standards. You may need to pick and choose from a variety of sources to do that.
If your administration is set against TpT, try talking to them as helping them see that TpT has high-quality resources. Start small by asking to purchase supplementary things first, like task cards, and then work your way up to bigger things. Try defending purchases on TpT with data. Another option is to contact TpT directly – they are really good at talking to the administration about how they are a great option for schools. And sometimes the best thing you need to do for your students is just shut the door and do your own thing.
And, please, if you have purchased from TpT in the past and you have had a poor quality product turn you off from TpT, please don’t let one or two bad apples ruin it for you! Check out my store and you’ll see my high-quality products. I’m determined to change your mind!
Teaching is a daily trip to the unknown. But trusted resources on TpT is not. You can trust 99% of them.