I’m returning from blogging over at Single Mom So Far, where I spent March participating in the Slice of Life Challenge created by Two Writing Teachers. It was quite nice to work out my current feelings about motherhood and how my life has changed.
During March, I thought a lot about teaching and some writing projects I finally think I’m ready to undertake. I also had some conversations with fantastic educators. They are brilliant teachers of young people at all levels and abilities. The biggest oversight is that administrators and even other teachers don’t seem to realize that these experts are either next door to them or within their buildings. We sit through PDs that these folks could teach effectively and responsively, yet, they are never asked. On the off chance that they are finally asked to do something, there is often no compensation for the time invested for preparing an excellent PD.
It drives me nuts.
I did the same thing: offered up my resources, thinking and knowledge because I was so flattered whenever someone asked me. It finally took a scholar I admire to remind me that I should not be giving this information away for free. And that’s what I want to remind my fellow teacher-scholars: we have expertise that is valuable. Think about all the emails you’ve fielded about folks wanting to ask you questions about what you’re doing in your classroom. It’s because they know that we’re doing amazing work.
I’m not saying to set up a Teachers Pay Teachers or Gum Road account, but, at the very least, we should learn how to negotiate better. Think about the best lesson plans and units we’ve written. Someone needs those. Think about the presentations we make. Someone would most likely pay for us to present those somewhere (particularly if it’s a business or company of some type). Why not even create a short ebook and sell that like Dave Stuart Junior (I love him) or the Cult of Pedagogy?
We need to stop underselling ourselves. It’s not a matter of modesty: we’ve all seen too many bad instructional materials, know that we can do it better. Thus, we should. And we should attach some sort of value to what we do because if we don’t, people will keep taking it until we have nothing left. Know your worth.
A few other suggestions:
- Consider consulting: what are you really good at? Determine a rate and use that to either approach potential places (conferences are great for this) or to have it on hand when they come to find you (this can happen, particularly if you begin putting your awesome work out there). It’s better to have a number in mind. Also, don’t forget to account for the time you’ll need to prepare, travel, etc.
- Have some sort of online presence: a website (lots of free ones are available but I’m being convinced that it makes sense to set up something that a pro designs–maybe)
- Make a list of everything you’re good at and make that your calling card. I love it that Marie Levey-Pabst offers organizational help for teachers. It’s brilliant! My wonderful friend Lillie Marshall has parlayed her love of traveling and teaching students into presenting at conferences all over the world and visiting incredible locales. She is a brand and it is her passion: she’s found a way to make it work for her. We need to take notes and use these teacher scholars as models.
It’s that whole idea of “whatever you are, be a good one” (Lincoln). We are good at what we do. We need to get better at making sure others know that, too.