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Teachers Pay Teachers… and Everyone Wins

By Jon Callaghan, May 23, 2014

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Teaching is our country’s noblest profession, and also one of the hardest. Teachers inspire and shape the minds that will be the innovators, entrepreneurs, artists and citizens of tomorrow, but being a great teacher can come with much sacrifice. It’s hard work. Collectively, we as a nation feel that teachers are underpaid, and few public school systems today can afford all of the resources that teachers require for success. Many are given little more than prescribed textbooks selected by a central district and created by large academic publishing houses. While these tools are important, they lack the flexibility, collaboration, fluidity and openness of what we experience today in other mediums on the web.

To foster and instill more innovation in their curricula, the best teachers are devoting their after-school time and significant financial resources to authoring their own creative, engaging lesson plans. And in education, openness and collaboration to share these resources is key: teachers are on the front lines of learning in the classroom day in and day out, and collaboration means that best practices can be shared across the classroom, across the district, the state, the country and the world.

Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT), a remarkable company and new addition to the True Ventures portfolio, understands that collaboration is innovation. TpT empowers any teacher to share their best practices and their best ideas with their colleagues and with the world. The company was created with the belief that teachers create the most relevant and engaging educational resources, and TpT is an open, online marketplace where teachers can share, buy and sell lesson plans, worksheets, activities and other educational content—from each other.

Materials on TpT can range from a few dollars to over $50, with most resources falling between $5-$10. Teachers selling materials on TpT can augment their income by hundreds per year—even thousands. It’s exciting to note that the best curriculum developers can earn even more: a kindergarten teacher in Windermere, Florida named Deanna Jump has earned $2.6 million from nearly 400,000 sold items. She has 32,000 followers and 105,000 ratings from fellow teachers in the community. Using TpT, great teachers like Deanna can build their own storefronts where they are able to create a brand and interact with the community on a more personal level.

Teachers Pay Teachers is ushering in the democratization of education, empowering individuals to solve problems that a very large system often cannot. There are five million teachers in the U.S., and three million of them are on Teachers Pay Teachers, demonstrating the profound ability for individuals to affect change with the simple power of the web, a PDF and a platform.

Teachers Pay Teachers makes the best ideas accessible and affordable to teachers all over the world, and the reason it’s so successful is that teachers are the best ones to create classroom content. The fluidity with which this platform allows people to share their ideas at massive scale to their exact target audience is incredible, and I can’t think of a nobler mission than to make quality education available to more students. As Teachers Pay Teachers says on its website: “In the end, everyone wins, especially students. And that’s what it’s all about.”

I’ve long believed that the creative Founder in today’s innovation economy can solve any problem at any level: local, national and global. We have built our business at True investing behind the Founders of movements who aspire to change the world for the better. WordPress, MakerBot, Fitbit, and now TpT are all part of our broader mission at True, and it is a privilege to stand behind these purpose-driven companies.

At True, we are all about people, and what excites us most here is that TpT is founded by teachers, for teachers. Founder Paul Edelman and CEO John Yoo both spent time as educators and have a deep understanding of what teachers need to be successful. Before founding Teachers Pay Teachers, Paul spent almost four years as a middle school literacy teacher in the New York public school system. He experienced his “aha” moment for TpT when his colleagues gave him such high praise for sharing his teaching resources with them. John has unique knowledge of the educational content and academic publishing industries, spending time as a 9th-grade teacher, a technology integrator for schools and, later, as director of strategic engagement for Scholastic, an academic publishing company.

We’re honored to partner with this stellar team, and happy to join Spectrum Equity and Tiger Global in support of this industry-changing company.

Teachers Pay Teachers team, welcome to True!

Read more on the TpT blog and on EdSurge.