To Share or To Sell: An Internal Debate Over TPT

Full disclosure:   I do not have a store on, but I do have an account for purchasing items.

Remember a time before the internet when teachers had to make everything themselves because nothing else was available?  Hours of designing lesson materials that got used once and were put away in the file cabinet until the following year.  Thinking to yourself, “Man, I sure wish there was someone to do this for me.”

Or maybe you are the one who is always creating those same lesson materials for your whole team, or maybe your entire district.  You probably think to yourself, “I sure wish I got paid for this.”  Meanwhile, your teammates are probably thinking, “I’m sure glad I don’t have to pay for this.”

Enter, a website where teachers can post the materials they’ve spent hours working on and make a little money from them.  And other teachers can save themselves the trouble, so long as they’ve got the money to pay for it.  Teachers can post lesson and unit plans, lesson activities, games, classroom decor, and so much more.


TPT, founded in 2006 by a NYC school teacher, now claims to have 1.7 million resources posted on their site (  They also claim that teacher-sellers have earned $175 million. According to an article on Business Insider, the all-time top earner on TPT earns around $80,000 a MONTH (  Excuse me?!  I don’t think I know any teachers who make that much in an entire year.

So, what’s the problem?  For the most part, nothing.  I commend these teachers for seeing an opportunity and making the most of it.  I have friends who pay their car payments each month because of their TPT earnings.  Other friends have been able to cut down on their own or a spouse’s working hours because of the extra income.

And I’ve spent plenty of my own money on the site, too.  While I’m certainly capable of creating my own resources, I can free myself up to do other things if a teacher-seller I trust has already made the same thing.  Why recreate the wheel, or in this case, recreate the SmartBoard file?

My biggest issue with TPT comes when it starts to deteriorate a community of collaboration and sharing among educators.  I remember teachers who would never share anything they had created because they wanted to save it for themselves so they would look like some amazing teacher in the eyes of someone else.

But who does that help?  A teacher who might get a better evaluation from their supervisor?  Certainly not the students in the other classes who might have benefitted from their knowledge.  And not the health of the team that may grow to resent the teacher who never shares her genius.  I would be curious to know how TPT sellers handle working with their teams in their own buildings.  Do they share with their teammates?  Or do they expect them to pay up like everyone else?

Having spent the past year on Twitter growing my PLN, it would absolutely change the dynamic if during a chat someone posted a great idea but then wasn’t willing to share it.  Or worse, sent me a link to buy it for $5.00.  And now attending professional development conferences takes a little different tone when you realize the presenter is, in many cases, presenting in hopes that you will go to their store and buy what you see.

I don’t have a definitive answer on this one.

What do you think?  Are you pro-share or pro-sell?  If you’re a TPT seller, do you share with friends and colleagues?  I’d love to know what you think!


  1. Great blog post, Andrea, and great questions! While I can’t speak for everyone, I do share with lots of my friends. Compiling it for TpT has made it MUCH easier to share! I also have shared resources with music teachers in my district (like if a music teacher sends out an email asking for good songs for fa, I’ll send them my “fa” set.) And if I present, I always offer a number of freebies for the participants, as I want the workshop and information to be as usable as possible. Of course, there will always be people who are more focused on the money than they are on sharing, but in my situation, I have found it way easier to share with others, and it has helped me streamline my work and improve my teaching. Thanks for the thoughtful post!


  2. I’m thinking about joining tpt to make extra cash. I hope I will be able to make enough money to sustain me during my maternity leave. I really want to find something I can do at home. You made some valid points about everything being about money. However, I think people should get paid for their work. So many people expect teachers to give the little they have but forget we have lives too. So I don’t mind paying for quality work because I understand the motivation behind it.


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