Tori Jorgensen for KSL writes: Sisters Heidi Van Natter and Emily Stephenson, both teachers, collaborated for more than 500 hours to create daily morning work activities for their second-grade classes. Believing other teachers could benefit from the time they spent, they sold their plans on Esty in 2008.
Business picked up in June 2012 when the sisters started an account onteacherspayteachers.com, an online market for educators that allows teachers to share, sell and buy original educational resources.
The result is a marketplace where teachers can make additional money, share ideas and purchase the good ideas of others.
Van Natter and Stevenson said they never thought they would become entrepreneurs. But managing their online education store became a full-time pursuit as more and more instructors wanted access to their materials. They withdrew from teaching in the classroom to focus on their store.
Teachers Pay Teachers and other similar websites refer to teachers who have become business owners as “teacherpreneurs.” According to the site, contributors’ proceeds exceed $175 million and has emerged as a ‘big educational movement,’ Van Natter said.
“I love teaching, but instead of just 20 kids at a time, this gives me an opportunity to help thousands,” Van Natter said. “And I don’t have to do bus duty or write sub plans.”
Since the opening of the sisters’ online Teachers Pay Teacher’s store Second Story Window, they’ve sold more than 62,000 products, Stevenson said. And 13,000 of those purchases were the 2nd Grade Common Core Morning Work Stephenson and Van Natter originally intended to use only in their own two classrooms. That product ranks fourth in generated revenue out of all Teachers Pay Teachers products and second in generated revenue for products in its grade division.
Stephenson said teachers purchase their morning work because it is thorough, spiral review – meaning that the workbook content cycles back to subjects found earlier on in the year’s curriculum – and contains graphics and clip art. Stephenson defined morning work as the first exercise students do when they come to class, which sets a pattern and reviews curriculum. She said morning work is a method teachers have used for years.
“When [teachers] are in the classroom trenches of teaching they have so many demands, and don’t have time to be passionate about every part of every curriculum that they teach,” Stephenson said. “Because we are not in the classroom, we’ve gotten to know the curriculum better than when we were even in the classroom. All of our products are based on the curriculum and are rigorous not just cutesy.”