What image comes to mind when you hear the phrase “creative class,” or “creatives”? I think of graphic designers and programmers hanging out in hipster coffee shops with their laptops, or wearing flip-flops to work.
K-12 teachers certainly don’t fit this stereotype, but based on my experience, I believe teachers are the real creatives, and that their creativity will be rewarded with opportunities to earn more and more over time. This won’t necessarily come from traditional classroom teaching, but from the opportunity to sell their creative products and services online.
How Accountability Makes Teachers Creative
What happens when teachers don’t push themselves to teach in innovative ways that interest, challenge, and surprise their students? It’s pretty simple. They’re usually miserable because they suffer the most from classroom discipline problems.
Teachers are accountable every single day. If they don’t come up with fresh ways to present the content and engage the students, their time in the classroom very quickly becomes hell on earth. I speak from experience. The accountability is real and immediate.
It’s hard to think of many other jobs with this kind of extreme, real-time accountability. Over time, the teachers who don’t wash out and manage to be reasonably happy just won’t make it without being creative. Creativity is a job requirement if you’re a good teacher.
What other job requires all this?
- Project management
- Subject matter expertise (Science/Math/Language Arts, etc.)
- Constant multitasking
- Client relationships (parents!)
- Educational Design/Pedagogy
- Child Development
- Public Speaking
- Social Worker/Counselor Skills (We all know this is true.)
- And the list goes on!
People Pay for Creativity!
Someone once gave me very wise advice: If you want to be successful if you want to make money, learn to do something hard, that most people can’t do for themselves. I know for a fact that most people couldn’t do in three days what I managed to do in one morning in the classroom. Teaching is hard.
So if teaching is hard, and most people can’t do it very well, why aren’t teachers paid more? There are many answers to this question, but one is that history and culture haven’t been on their side. A hundred years ago, most teachers were married women. Their husbands were the “breadwinners.” Our patriarchal culture saw teaching as “women’s work,” and not worthy of high wages.
This hasn’t changed nearly fast enough, but the internet and social media are making it possible for teachers to monetize their immense creativity in ways we couldn’t have imagined even twenty years ago.
Online marketplaces like EdHero make it possible for teachers to sell their lessons and units to other teachers. In the future, I believe that demand for creativity will expand to offer even more economic opportunities for teachers. More and more, they will be less anchored to traditional, bricks-and-mortar schools and public school paychecks.
It Isn’t All Cupcakes and Roses
Now, there are downsides to all of this. I understand that. We don’t like viewing ourselves and our talents as commodities. And really, you should be paid well because what you do is so vital to our country and the world. No, you shouldn’t have to put ourselves out in the marketplace and sell your genius to the highest bidder.
It’s also a fact that taking time away from your own lesson planning, preparation, and grading can easily take away from teaching effectiveness. Time is so scarce, already, and who has time to build an audience for a blog?
While all this is true, if we’re realistic, we know that salaries aren’t going to magically rise by themselves. The online world and global connectedness aren’t going away. We can either jump on this train or not. Many teachers have already decided not to wait for change that might never come, at least not in their lifetimes.
One answer to the time problem might be using materials you already produce and selling them on online education marketplaces. It’s certainly easier than building a blog and a social media following on your own. There’s also the fact that collaborating with other teachers and using their brilliant lessons can be a time-saver, not a time-use.
Maybe I’m just getting old
I don’t know if I’m more cynical now than I was twenty years ago. Maybe I am, or maybe I’ve seen enough and lived through enough to realize that opportunities just don’t come along every day. I think teachers are living at a unique historical moment that can allow them to make more money and become more economically independent from the school systems. I’m not saying it’s easy because it’s not, but the opportunity does exist for those who are ready to grab it.
EdHero provides you an opportunity to collaborate to create rich lessons, units, and courses; earn professional development certificates and sell your materials through your own store. Explore the marketplace, team up with teachers across the globe, advance your teaching skills, change kids’ lives and earn extra money – all in one place!