This post originally appeared on the blog Autism Classroom Resources.
Did you know that there is a TpT for Schools site set up specifically to help schools find and purchase the resources teachers need in their classroom? No?? Or maybe you did know but your school isn’t using it? Did you think that it wasn’t worth sharing it in your district? Or had you never thought about it?
Not sure your administration will go for it?
I know that in some situations, it’s intimidating to share ideas and make requests of administrators. But let me share a story of a conversation I’ve had many times in my 30-year career.
I walk into the classroom and there are no teaching materials other than some Unifix cubes and old textbooks way above the level of the students. I say to the teacher, “What do you use for teaching materials?” The teacher says, “This is all I was given. I’m waiting for them to give me what I need to teach these kids.”
I go to the administrator and say, “The teacher has nothing in the classroom to teach with that is appropriate for her students. What happened?” The administrator says, “I’m waiting for the teacher to tell me what she needs.”
I kid you not! This is seriously a conversation I’ve had many times on both ends. Administrators, especially those who aren’t part of special ed., are looking for guidance from you as the specialist about what you need to do your job.
I’ll come back to this scenario later in the post, but here are five reasons why you may want to consider TpT for Schools.
Of course the first reason is that you are paying for resources out of your own pocket — which already is pretty much only change that jingles. It’s one thing if you decide, as a professional, that you want to add to your personal repertoire of materials for teaching students. Buying out of pocket makes sense at that point because you are planning to keep the materials for the future.
But most of you, especially teachers just starting out, don’t have the money to invest in EVERYTHING you need to get the classroom started and provide instruction. Or maybe you changed the type of class or don’t think you’ll be in the same type of class in the future. In that case, it makes sense to have resources that get left with the classroom rather than personally owning them.
2. Individualized resources.
Every student in your classroom has different needs. Some of you teach classes from kindergarten to sixth grade… no big range of skills there! Some of you support classrooms of students preschool through high school… again, that’s not a lot of material needed, right? (sarcasm sign here).
So in addition to the visual supports and other materials needed to support our students, we need a lot of stuff in our toolboxes to pull out and individualize our instruction for our students. TpT has created a vehicle for doing just that.
To me TpT and special education have always been made for each other specifically because we need so many individualized resources that aren’t available in many commercial curricula. #TpTforSchools #SpecialEdonTpT
3. Continuity of materials across classrooms.
Imagine you were teaching using a specific resource that was working for a student. Wouldn’t it be nice if next year’s teacher could continue with it? We do that all the time with big curricula, like the Edmark Reading Curriculum. You started on level 1 and ended in level 2. Next year’s teacher should have the same curriculum so he or she can pick up at the next lesson where you left off.
But many times, we don’t have this with TpT resources or teacher-made resources, because the resource belongs to the teacher who bought them.
4. Continuity of instruction across teachers.
Have you ever taken over a classroom in the middle of the year only to find that all the visual schedules the students had, all their communication tools for the room, the visual supports, and much of the teaching materials left with the teacher? Probably because it was stuff she purchased and/or made. It belonged to her. Makes perfect sense that she would take it with her. But where does that leave you… or the students… on January 3? You don’t have the same materials that the last teacher had. So the schedule format might change, the teaching materials might be different, etc.
TpT for Schools now also has a classroom license called transferable licenses (a transferable license?). It costs a bit more than a regular license, but it has a real advantage for schools. If a teacher leaves, the material can be transferred to the teacher who replaces him or her. And then the material can be sent to you to use when you step in. And the students use the same supports and teaching tools they have used all year long.
5. Empowering teachers like you.
TpT for Schools is specifically designed to empower teachers like you. Teachers who are in the classroom and know what your specific students need. You know what their IEPs are. And you know what their behavioral and other needs are. That means you are the right person to make a recommendation about what materials are needed to teach the student.
And if you are a newer teacher or newer to the field and you aren’t as confident of what your students need, your administrator has some oversight about the materials being used. So there is a safety net to prevent buying stuff for your class that doesn’t get used because it really doesn’t fit. So I see it as kind of a win-win from the teacher and administrator side of the table.
Still hesitant about talking to your school administrators about TpT for Schools?
You may think that it isn’t your place to tell your administrators what you need. Or maybe you think that they don’t care or don’t want to hear from you about it.
Sure they aren’t going to give you a blank check to buy whatever you want for the classroom. Nor should they. But most of them are willing to at least consider teacher requests for materials. And remember from the beginning of the post, some of them are even waiting for you to tell them what you need.
What are the benefits as an administrator?
- Increased administrative awareness and oversight of resources being used in the classroom
- Increased collaboration among teams using the same resources
- The ability to evaluate the rigor of requested resources for teachers before deciding on purchasing
- Access to updated resources that can be downloaded immediately and used quickly to create change in the classroom
- Empowering teachers to make decisions about teaching materials based on the needs of their students
- TpT can take purchase orders to fund an account, thus making it easy to draw from the balance as resources are needed.
Want to know more about it as an administrator? Check here.
If you are a teacher, what should you do next?
- Start a conversation with your administrators about how TpT for Schools can help you in the coming year.
- Highlight the benefits above and the following for your administrators.
- If you are a teacher or support staff, go to this webpage and send your administrator information about how TpT for Schools works.
- Be prepared to request resources and articulate clearly how they will align with your lesson plans and individual needs of your students. Review resources carefully to show your administrators why it is needed for your classroom, the time it will save you from creating your own resource, and/or benefit your students.
- Don’t hesitate to reach out to Teacher-Authors from TpT with questions that you think your administrator might ask (or does ask) about what the resource includes.
For instance, for many of my resources, I can point you to sample IEP goals or curriculum cross-listings (see the preview of this product for an example) that you might use so you can show the administrator how it ties in. Similarly, for many of my resources, I can point you to blog posts and other resources that shows how they are helpful in implementing an evidence-based practice.
So, go check out TpT for Schools on your own and think about how you can work to get it in place this school year. Your bank account and your students will thank you.
Until next time,