Kindergarten Teacher


I Teach Kindergarten and I Don’t Like Teachers Pay Teachers

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EDIT: To better represent my purpose of this post I have changed the image (meaning I admit the first one was a mistake.) This post it truly meant to be about a conversation so please take a minute to read the comments. The discussion happening is just as interesting (maybe more) as the actual post. I have posted a follow up response to this post HERE

You read that right, I am not a fan of Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT). Please let me explain…

First off I do not like black and white statements so please don’t take this post as a claim that I have issues with everything on the site. Also, if you sell products there or buy from the site this is not attack on you personally, I am simply asking you to think and consider my points. 

#1. I think teachers are selling things that work in their classroom. Amazing things no doubt, but the skills, format, imagery and wording is built around what works for their kids or their population. I feel I do my best teaching when I meet the needs of the kids in my classroom. TPT sells almost everything in a PDF format making it impossible for me to change things (even slightly) to meet the needs of my class.

#2 I think TPT is creating what I call the “laminating culture” among teachers.  We all work hard for the little money we get. When we spend $5 on a unit that unit is going to be laminated and used for several years. Why is it being used? Is it because it meets the needs of the kids in the class that year? Or because the kids in the class show an interest in the topic? Sadly, I think they often get used over and over because they cost money and they are easy.

#3 I think cute is overrated. Maybe it is because I am a male teacher but I talked about this with many people at I Teach K this week and it seems a lot of people agree with me. My question is who are we making these activities for? I know teachers need to feel happy and excited about what they are using but often I think early childhood rooms are designed to impress parents and other teacher friends (I have written about my class theme here.) I’m sorry but kids don’t need polka dots, owls, and bubbly fonts to have fun and learn. I would go as far to say they don’t even notice. I have never had a kid tell me great job on the design of my handout or activity.

#4 I think real images are more valuable than clip art. When I make something for my class I use to find real images of butterflies, elephants, sunflowers and fire trucks. My class is not growing up in a world of DJ inkers.

Maybe you agree with me and maybe you don’t but I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

482 Responses to I Teach Kindergarten and I Don’t Like Teachers Pay Teachers

  1. Deborah says:

    Plus, teachers should SHARE ideas freely…like you do, Matt!

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Deborah, I do agree with you but the free aspect isn’t one of my big issues

    • L says:

      Images on your walls and on your materials speak to how you think of children. Do you think they deserve rich, complex, beautiful images? Or, would you rather they have ‘cute’, simple, cartoon images? We all want different things for our classroom but I will say this…usually we get to a “teachers pay teachers” site when we are looking for a quick solution to something. The quick solution is rarely the best one.

    • Jael says:

      I decided to share my ideas on TPT for several reasons. My work isn’t cute. In fact, I’ve had complaints because it isn’t cute. I want teachers to have intervention resources which are difficult to find. I do share many things on my website and TPT for free. As a single mom with two kids in college, I need extra money. I don’t think its bad to write for profit. I think there is a lot of stuff on TPT that is cute but without a lot of substance. That’s what bothers me…fun activities that don’t help teach anything. And ,yes each class is different and you have to tailor your approach for each class each year. I hope that the products I post are used more as a staff development resource which will never go out of style.

  2. @8amber8 says:

    Cute is not over rated! :) Cute makes me happy…a happy me equals a more happy classroom!

    I do agree with you, on some of these points…but also think that teachers work hard in their classrooms and teachers are the queens (& kings) of not wanting to recreate the wheel. I think TPT can provide great starting points, esp for some teachers who don’t have that “creative” gene already in place, :)

    team glitter and polka dots,

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Amber, you always make me smile. I do recreate the wheel each year because my kids are different each year. I understand the point though and would be fine if TPT was a starting point. I think often it is NOT just the start of an idea that is molded for a class. They are simply printed, laminated and placed in a center. That is my biggest concern, we are giving the illusion (especially to new teachers) that the cuteness is more important than the content.

      -Your No Glitter Friend

      • Thank you for this, Matt. I’m in the Cute=Icky CAMP … I’m also in the RESPECT-and Challenge-My-Students’-Intelligence-and Aesthetic-Sensibilties-by-Giving-Quality-in-Every-Conceivable-Way-CAMP. Woah … there’s surely a better way for me to express that thought, but I’m gonna stay in forward gear. Thank you for doing what you do, and for caring so deeply!

  3. Mickie says:

    Bravo, Matt! I, too have issues with TPT. I agree with your statements here. In addition, I remember when the Internet for educators was about sharing. Not because you wanted to be paid but because you just wanted to share. I’ve had a web presence since 1994 when I made my first website in HTML. I posted lesson ideas, links to favorite websites, etc. Even now I post every presentation I give online, free of charge. I’m not in it to make a buck. If someone can find something I did useful, I’m happy to share it for free.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Mickie, thanks for the comment and sharing your stuff for free. The money isn’t my concern although it is something to consider

    • With all do respect, the conversation about money upsets me. We have not seen a raise in 5+ years in NC and teacherspayteachers has helped me make ends meet plenty of times. I recently bought a house as a single woman, not thinking that I could afford it, and TPT has been my saving grace in that respect. In addition, I think most TPT sellers do GIVE freely in addition to asking for a small price for the things we spend HOURS upon HOURS on. Believe me, it is no QUICK job to make a 50-60 page file, write 32 engaging word problems to turn into task cards, add the finishing touches of clip art (of which I am a minimalist), or upload to TPT. TPT has inspired me to create things with a flair and motivation that I never would have created in the same way without knowing that it would help other teachers beyond my grade level. The quality of my creations has improved greatly as TPT has exploded. I am inspired by the community of bloggers and sellers who work 60 hour weeks in their own classrooms and then spend time creating resources. I do feel that I own a small business, I have paid taxes on my earnings, and I am not ashamed of that. None of us should be and we should stop apologizing for making a few dollars.

      Why should we continue to pour (and allow our states and districts to) money into textbook factories (Pearson, Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt)? I think these textbooks are dead weight before the ink even dries these days. TPT teachers constantly update their files (often adding more materials and resources than were in the original and therefore again giving away freely to their supporters and followers). I think the teachers in my school who are not using TPT as a resource for common core materials are not as far along as my grade level who creates common core materials for our grade (and then uploads onto TPT) and also seeks resources on TPT when we don’t have time to create our own.

      At the same time, I think with any shopping experience, you must be choosy, and you must look for quality. I do see sellers changing the clip art on packets that contain the same exact word problems to fit a theme or holiday. I’m not going to do that–and I won’t buy from them–but to each purchaser his own freedom.

      • Matt Gomez says:

        Thanks for the comment Tammy. You will notice I never mentioned the money in my post or comments. I have no issues with teachers selling their products.

      • Lin says:

        Well we can’t say we are creating awesome resources to help others because the creating is happening that way cuz you get paid. you are not required to but do so for the pay because a better resource will get you more money. I’m in favor of teachers sharing resources at their leisure, but we shouldn’t act entitled to extra pay when we decide to share a resource. We are all in the same boat. If the pay helps adn you need it you then go for it. I really really don’t like what it’s selling though and I’m not talking about the resources. It’s an every-man-for-himself mentality that totally seems to go against why most people start teaching in the first place. Gross

  4. Karen Purdy says:

    You make some excellent points and many I agree with. However, just to clarify, I don’t make my room “cute” for the kids, other teachers or the parents. I try to make it “cute” because I am going to spend 8 to 10 hours a day, five days a week, for the next 10 months. I want to feel happy when I walk in each day. :-) Karen

    • @8amber8 says:

      I always tght that too, KP! :)

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Awesome Karen! I think that many teachers feel a pressure to go overboard with the cuteness, again I am not attacking cute. Simply staring it is not the goal. Appreciate the comment

      • cgoodgame says:

        I agree!!!! Great points Matt well said! I am a woman and I like cute, but in my classroom it needs to be my kids work that is on display-and it’s cute. I also need to reinvent the wheel every year, every day according to my student’s need.

    • Cathy says:

      I agree with you Karen. I decorate my classroom because I spend the majority of my waking hours there. My room is my second home, my students are my second family. I do it to to put smiles on their faces an learning just a little more fun, because they are after all, only five years old.

  5. Matt, This first year kinder teacher appreciates your thoughts. I am in classroom set up mode right now and have been checking out TPT resources.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Adam, relationships are the key to success in the classroom. Nothing more. Be yourself and avoid the pressure to be like others!

      • What things do you do before school starts to get to know kids? Do you communicate any at all with parents about their children? I think I should be able to flow with the needs (and interests) of the children and I will do my best to not over-structure things.

        • Matt Gomez says:

          Adam, We don’t do much before school starts. I do reach out to the parents and share about myself and my philosophy. Our class blog really helps build the home school connection once the school year starts. I wish I could do home visits for every child. I think that would be an amazing way to start the relationship.

          • Rick N says:

            Matt, MANY years ago when I taught 2 groups of 25 kindergarten students every day (1/2 day program), I did do home visits with every student. Those were invaluable!! They were especially helpful to those shy children who came back to school the very next day acting so much more confident. I would challenge you to see if your school administration would allow that to happen:)

          • Matt Gomez says:

            Rick, I have mentioned home visits a few times to my team and wish that would happen. I am all for it!

          • Rick N says:

            You are so right…it takes a commitment from the entire grade level. Otherwise, those who won’t commit to it look like less committed teachers, which they probably are. It also takes a large time commitment, but I always felt it was worth it. We did 2 visits/day. In addition, we asked that a parent of the student spend part of that day visiting their child’s classroom. It became a very special day for the child!

      • dcaywood2013 says:

        I agreed with the comment about relationships are what is most important. A “cute” room can provide you a little bit of time for buy in on the part of older elementary students, but it doesn’t take long for them to figure out if you really care about them. If you don’t care–they won’t care–no matter how many great posters you have up in your room. I get frustrated by the desire to create replicas of classroom charts found on these sites. A chart should be about what you and your students create as you are learning to help you track your learning–not just about the cute factor. My classroom is usually covered with stuff on the walls-but I have found there is little room for my created cuteness when the students work is what is shining all around the room.

  6. Sandi hill says:

    Matt, you hit the nail on the head! I love the way you are helping us all focus on getting our kids to think! Our walls are covered with ‘cute’ posters and rules… But WE teach kindergarten! Are those posters for our kids??? I think we have been forced to post things so all grades can ‘look’ like all of our kids need the same visuals. REALLY! Thx, Matt!

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Sandi, glad you are rethinking the “why”. Sometimes we get caught up in doing things simply because that is they way it has been done before. That is my main goal of this post. My kids are my focus and sometimes I needed to be reminded that.

  7. Amanda Slack says:

    Hilarious Amber and Matt.I only get things on TPT that’s going to appeal to my kids. Just because I get it for one group if students doesn’t mean I am going to use it for another. I figure why create the wheel and use my time if its already done and readily available for me to use. Id rather get it for 3 bucks on TpT as opposed to buying at lakeshore or supply store for 3x as much! If its cute that’s just an added bonus.

    As for my classroom I theme it out. I try to leave bulletin boards and things like that blank so that students can put up their own color word charts that we make and interactive writing during the year. I want what’s on the walls to be meaningful. If I am going to spend more time in my classroom than my own house I want it to feel organized, cheerful and welcoming to me, my students, parents and teachers. I think it’s just a personality thing and certainly a difference between man and woman. If you ever need decorating advice I’m sure there’s plenty of k bloggers willing to help give you a manly man classroom! :)

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Amanda, sounds like you are using the site in the best possible way. I just know from experience and talking with teachers that they often feel pressure to match the cute factor of other rooms. My hope is that we can take away that pressure and let teachers focus on what matters to them. My first year teaching I got a lot of that pressure and was told parents would judge my teaching ability based on the way my room looked.

  8. Kathleen Minshew says:

    As someone who works with early career teachers and university students, I always tell them to use TPT with caution. “Is it cute or does it count?” And I always appreciate the “recording sheets” rather than “worksheets” which allows for modification and differentiation as needed.

  9. Brandi says:

    Love it! I too try to bring real images in to my room.. Connecting to the real world… Although I do Dr. Seuss it a little.

  10. Matt, I completely agree with you and I appreciate your take on this sensitive subject. Also, have you considered that some teachers might be ostensibly creating things for their kids, but really making decisions based on what will sell the best? In our district, we have also had more than one case of a teacher selling something on TPT that was actually something another teacher has created and shared freely with her colleagues.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      That is a concern Chris but not one of my main ones. I HOPE most people are sharing what they actually use and need for their class. It is a valid point though, difficult to run a business and teach.

  11. In most (all?) states the school district actually owns anything you create to use in your classroom. I guess you can say that TPT is kind of sticking it to the man. That is something I may not have a problem with ;)

    • Matt Gomez says:

      I agree only if they are making their own clip art and fonts. Curious to see who is the first teacher sued by DJ Inkers or other clip art companies.

      • I am a font designer by profession and I sell licensing for my fonts for usage on TpT. Most teachers have purchased licensing to use the images and fonts they use in their products. I don’t think they need to fear retaliation from font designers and clip art designers unless they are using the fonts and artwork without a license. Many TpT sellers are quite copyright-savvy and aware of those issues.

        I think cute is valuable only if it is matched by equally valuable content. As a homeschooling mom, I can testify that my daughters are much more likely to enjoy their work if it is presented in an attractive manner. Obviously, the content needs to be on par with the design work. But I don’t think cute is equivalent to crappy content. Crappy content can be ugly or cute. Valuable content can be ugly or cute.

        As for students noticing the cute factor, kindergarteners may not notice. But I have a large following of middle and high school students who are quite obsessed with decorating things. They are definitely aware of fonts and artwork and appreciate when their teachers make the effort to make things cute in an age-appropriate way. (Cute for kindies is not the same as cute for middle grades, obviously!)

        Just food for thought.

  12. Amber Garbe says:

    I have been on a Pinterest rant as of late and my concerns are closely connected to your concerns for TPT. Having studied online professional development as part of my dissertation research, I found that people generally adapt what they take and search for the most relevant/cohesive (read: best fit for kids and class and school expectations). Having said that, my research was all perception based and today I wonder if we are all being as critical as we should as we gather and share ideas.

  13. Matt, thank you for this post. I agree with you and have had many teachers tell me to sell my plans on TPT. I have not. Here is the thing, units are simply words on a page. It is the reciprocal relationship between the learner, the content and their relationship with the teacher that make those words come alive. There are in the moment changes that the teacher makes to facilitate a closer approximation of understanding happen for individual students. You have to be completely comfortable with your content area and the way people learn. Confidant enough to jump into a wormhole with your class because their interests have taken a turn and know that they will come out the other end closer to the learning goal. These things cannot be bought and sold. This cannot be written in plans. This is good teaching. It is my hope that teachers who are using TPT, are considering a starting point and not a laminated plan for centers.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Michael, My experience is most TPT stuff is designed to save teachers time, to be a center all in one neat package. I wish they were starting points, that would keep me from having issues to how it is used.

  14. Matt – I think you and I would get along very well! Do you need a job? Our school is hiring for third grade… =) I think the question, “Is it for the kids’ benefit or the teacher’s benefit?” is a great question to ask. I loved your “I revamp/reinvent the wheel every year” – – SO TRUE! But really, let me know if you want to become a Cheese Head and teach 3rd grade… I can hook you up!

  15. Roberta Daniels says:

    I taught kindergarten for 17 years, left for three years to teach enrichment, and am returning to kindergarten this fall! There is a lot of pressure to make your room look cute, to have students produce cute artwork and to make cutesy work sheets. I think the pressure is worse then ever due not only to TPT but also Pinterest. Matt, thanks for questioning the value of all this and reminding us the focus should be on our students!

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Roberta, that pressure is what pushed me to share my thoughts. The pressure should be on building relationships with parents and students. Relationships matter!

  16. Kathy S. says:

    Matt, you raise some really good points. Each year will demand a little something different in our approach. Sometimes activities can be adapted to meet those needs, sometimes we need to use different activities altogether to tap into the needs and interests of the children in front of us. It is our job to move students to the standards in the way that fits them best. My classroom should reflect my students, their talents, needs and individuality. If a TPT idea is the vehicle to move a student toward a standard, that’s one thing. When a TPT purchase becomes tradition, regardless of the needs of the students in the room, that’s another thing entirely. Thanks for your insights and all you share. Your suggestions have helped me several times!

  17. Sherrie says:

    I think the biggest issue I have seen with TPT is all the things that say “common core”on them, but really do not begin to scratch the surface of what is expected of students. I cringe when I think of all the teachers buying stuff and thinking they are really meeting the expectations of the common core standards when they really aren’t.

    I think it’s great that teachers are able to be entrepreneurs in this day and age without having to try to get published by companies. There are some fabulous ideas being shared. I have a million resource books that I thought would be great (without really getting to preview them) that now sit in a file cabinet unused. I feel you get a better preview of stuff on TPT.

    I do get concerned by some of the “fluff’ I see out there being scooped up for math. And for the record I teach 7th grade and I do not think cute is overrated. My students love my classroom decor (which is really just a color scheme with zebra accents) based on the numerous comments about it in my end of the year survey.

  18. Completely agree with this post. We’re all teachers, why can’t we just share. Hate when people are asking for credit for everything and then charging the rest of us to see/use their ideas!

  19. Malissa Mobley says:

    I cannot thank you enough for your post. The biggest concern I have with teacher creations or store bought creations is that it lacks The ability for students to feel like the classroom is theirs and not the teachers. There’s nothing wrong with teachers Decorating their teacher space and parts of the classroom . with an overall theme or content. However when it comes to the items the students actually use it needs to be created by the students. They gain a sense of ownership in the classroom When they know their strategies and teaching guides were made by them..
    .. Just a thought

  20. As a male primary teacher (2nd grade), I completely agree, especially about the cute stuff. You won’t find cute dots or monkeys in my room… I have problems with teachers selling things. Isn’t what they make at school or on a school laptop actually intellectual property of the school district they work for?

  21. Pam says:

    Wow, Matt! Thanks for taking a risk and expressing your thoughts. Although I do buy from TPT, I have become more selective lately in WHAT I buy. After attending your session at the Region X Tech Conference (Richardson) and following your blog, my friend and I have convinced our Kindergarten team that we need to try some different things this school year. Along with integrating technology, as our district-wide initiative, we hope to work to meet the needs of our Kindergartners in many ways…some yet to be determined! Thank you for being one of my role models in feeling more comfortable to try new ideas, especially with technology! (FYI: This will be my 20th year teaching K!)

  22. Annie Haslam says:

    Matt, Sites such as TPT are just resources. They exist to help teachers develop a theme or curriculum aid. I could never afford to copy and laminate everything I find on sites like TPT, but I do find inspiration and ideas which I can tweak or re-create to suite the needs of my class. I do agree with real images as the best way to go, but sometimes a child will need a simple image to help them, so in that case sites like TPT have a place. Sometimes the simple images can be used to create board games, story cubes, and other literacy and math games, so maybe there is room for all resources.

  23. Kathy says:

    Thanks for your comments Matt. For more than 20 yrs.I have refused to use images that slap smiles on everything from the sun to a computer! I have recently been thinking about my long-term anti cute campaign and have wondered if it was rooted in my “Yankee” up-bringing or if am just getting old. A recent NEA article featured “cute” room set-ups and I was aghast!
    Rather than cute or thematic, I want my K classroom to be safe and organized, to promote independence and cooperation, and support learning. I am admittedly a ‘ less is more” person, but I think we need to be mindful of the potential for sensory overload when classrooms are decorated around a theme rather than set up to meet student needs. I credit a steadfast fire chief and Responsive Classroom practices for helping me resist the decorate ’til you drop trend.
    Matt, your comments were thoughtful and respectful, thank you!

  24. Scott says:

    Matt, I’m definitely with you on the cute factor. I’ve mused about this before. At time this year I’ve wondered and worried since my room didn’t have all the stuff like my more experienced colleagues. But it was the space I needed. I’ve used a few freebies from TPT but tend to avoid anything that is too cute. I choose things that are more open ended and use them in different ways that match my kids. Thanks for a great post.

    (Go Team No Glitter)

  25. Emily Richeson says:

    I like TPT but I probably don’t use it the way it was intended. Mostly, I surf it for ideas and then recreate things to fit my needs. I’m not a big “laminated center” fan anyway because those things rarely hold the kids interest and engage them in meaningful ways. I use them sparingly and for specific skills. I would probably buy more from them if I could edit the work, but then I imagine the clip art people would definitely be crying copyright infringement.

  26. Jaime says:

    I know this was not an easy post, but I agree with your opinions. When I walk into my room each day cuteness is not on the brain or what I find needs to make me smile each day. What makes me smile is to see learning. STUDENTS creations and thoughts, along with realistic models and examples ready for those curious brains to explore.

    I have used TPT, but all the while struggled with its inability to truly challenge my students and meet their needs. I lacked the feeling of being a “teacher”. That is allowing students to create, explore, and facilitating meaningful experiences. Instead I felt as if I was constantly instructing how to construct step by step models that lacked any chances for creativity. Colored, cut, and constructed characters and unrealistic animals can take away from so many other learning experiences. I am proud that I regognized that TPT did not meet the needs of my kindergarten classroom or my teaching style.

    I am also proud to say that at the beginning of each year my room will be a shell ready for exploration no matter what grade I am teaching. Essentially a blank slate waiting for the touch of each student that walks through the door. Mounted insects such as; butterflies, moths and tarantulas are just a few things you might find in my room before the students make it their own.

    I have really enjoyed following your blog this past year and summer. Thank you for inspiring creativity, the use of technology, and meaningful learning.

  27. Donna Whyte says:

    I am not sure how I lost the beginning of my writing…if it is posted – I apologize for the repeated part. I am a mom, teacher, National Consultant/keynote and an author. I have many thoughts about this topic from many viewpoints.

    First, as a teacher I wanted things that were “made” and made my life easier but often found myself recreating parts or all of things from other teachers and resource books ~ after all, no one knew my children as well as I did. Many of the ideas posted are “as is”.

    As a consultant, I was asked many times if my ideas and writings were on tpt. I caved and placed some on months ago. It has always bothered me that the best selling categories continue to be “printable”, fun stuff, & worksheets. I love the cute and the fun. BUT cute and fun with meaning. I meet thousands of teachers a year and will tell you that many of our newest teachers are utilizing this site most. This is scary because this is the time in their career when learning to adjust and address levels, interests and needs are crucial. How in this day and age can “worksheets” be considered a best selling product? At the National K, I was shown many things that would not hold up to the level of “best practice or current research” that we need in education, but are available as downloads on tpt. I also agree with Sherrie that many items say common core (maybe in an attempt to win the search) but don’t address the true meaning within the standard. Finding answers, teaching children to think and ensuring that foundation skills are firmly in place. After leaving the K conference, I have spent the last 2 days at a state Kindergarten Conference – tpt was the topic of a dinner discussion one night. A teacher brought up the site and 2 authors were “shocked” to learn that people were using their name and their ideas in products. In particular one author stated “that is not even an idea that I approve of using with a young child”. This is scary. A teacher gave me full credit as the author of “You can’t teach a class that you can’t manage” when she posted ideas from my book, problem is that my publisher doesn’t quite think that her ideas totally align with my philosophy and are a bit upset that many sentences were “lifted” directly form the book. The publisher is now moving forward to ask her to remove the item, it could cost her $. Many young teachers may believe that these items are credible for meeting the needs of children, truth is there is a reason why publisher don’t publish everyone’s ideas, some just aren’t that good. Worse maybe not even appropriate for children and what is known about how they learn best.

    As an author, I am very concerned for many teachers that have items posted that belong to someone else. It is a copyright infringement to take clipart, ideas and words that are not yours and sell them without permission. EVEN if you acknowledge that you got them from the person. It doesn’t mean you can sell them. In speaking with several teachers they seemed totally surprised that Dr. Seuss’ estate would demand that teachers stop using his work as a basis for units and activities without permission. I can understand that a teacher creates an idea for something being taught and wants to share it, but you can’t sell it. In speaking with a tpt seller that was asked to remove an item, I can tell you that she said, “I am not removing my Dr. Seuss things until after the first week of March, there is a LOT of money involved” – what about ethics involved? There continues to be districts that are investigating the thought that this work actually belongs to the district. While, I would argue that we ALL know how much extra time we put in that if I was a seller still in the classroom, I might take a peek at my contract.

    I believe that you, Matt have come in on what was bound to be addressed soon. Thank you for starting this conversation so that each of us might reflect on what is best for our students. Relationships and personal connections come first – all of the rest needs to be built one block at a time!

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Donna, thank you for your thoughtful response. You bring up several of my concerns. I appreciate you taking the time to join the conversation. I am most worried about new teachers. They don’t need the pressure that the TPT cultures seems to be building.

  28. Sally says:

    Can you explain how Pinterest is any different. Some of the people on here are the same ones I always see PINNING CUTE things…minus the money. Hello hypocrites.

  29. Andrea says:

    I agree with many of your points, especially the use of real pictures. It also annoys me that you cannot edit most documents purchased on TPT. I mainly use TPT to purchase fun enrichment activities and games, such as telling time I Have Who Has. As for classroom setup and design, I basically start with a blank slate, as well. My board are pretty much bare until students arrive! I do opt for a green and blue color theme, because I think it looks less “busy.”

  30. I have to agree with the cutesy part as well Matt. maybe it’s because I am a 5th grade teacher, but it bugs me. I don’t have a problem with teachers selling their stuff, more power to them. They have some great ideas! I just can’t bring myself to pay for ideas, although I know a lot of teachers who do.

  31. Thank you! I will say that I pin things on Pinterest that others have pinned from TpT but just to trigger a thought later on. I am not into cutesy as a female so many things from TpT don’t work for my personality. Also, I work hard to stay away from worksheets (enough of that in required instructional materials for my district). And, when it comes to posters I tend to only put things up that are kid generated or are anchor charts created in front of students. There is research out there somewhere that talks about the brain imprinting that goes along with information built in front of students. Kids connect more with what’s generated in their presence vs. purchased elsewhere. I just appreciate your honest & respectfully put opinion.

  32. Candace says:

    Matt you touch in a point with which I struggle from time to time! But my belief in learning and teaching based on the needs of my students is at the core of what I do daily. So I am encouraged to see so many others with similar beliefs. Thank you for you post.

    I would also encourage you to look into using the Responsive Classroom Approach. There are many excellent ideas for building home school relationships including holding school based Hopes and Dreams conferences with families prior to or at the beginning of the school year.

    Best of luck with your upcoming year!

  33. Ben Hartman says:

    Male 5th grade teacher chiming in…. I get props for the way my room looks on a regular basis and often feel that colleagues (& parents?) are legitimately surprised I can pull it off. The time and energy (and laminate and color ink!) used in the overuse of TPT(and Pinterest) legitimizes the idea that a classroom should look perfect. I’d greatly prefer having my wall space used to display what we’re working on, what the class wonders about and what we choose to share with visitors, passersby and what we want to look at 8-10 hours a day. We have a clause in our (outdated) handbook that says something to the effect that classrooms should be neat and that teachers are responsible for maintaining the learning environment. I keep a 2×3 tackboard by my desk of my personal family pics, photocopies of my degrees, and cards I get from students. A shelf above that of coffee mugs and miscellaneous “gifts”. And we start the year…. Inside of three weeks my room is “decorated” with learning, in all of its misspelled, new marker soaked glory. And its ours and its authentic. When it no longer applies or (more likely) we need the space, it comes down. To be recycled, taken home or maybe, maybe I save it for next year.

  34. My friend, you know we are of one mind on this. While I have recently had a bit of a crash course on TPT (I HONESTLY had no clue about a great many things), I definitely share your perspective. One of my concerns about the TPT model is that it has the potential to create a mindset of “I bought this cute game, now I have to find a way to use it;” rather than “My students are struggling with XYZ, I need to find a tool to help them.” I think this is a dangerous thought pattern, especially for vulnerable new teachers. I am also uncomfortable with the idea of teachers creating materials purely for the purpose of selling them, rather than to meet their students’ needs….

    As for the cute thing, please know this is NOT a gender issue. While I am in favour of teachers maintaining organized, pleasant, happy work environments for themselves and their students, and I acknowledge that everyone’s definition of “organized and pleasant” varies, I am going to take a strong stance and say that having a cute classroom theme before you even meet your students is poor pedagogy. I think that the culture of cute, as perpetuated by TPT, Pinterest, and a great many teacher blogs, sends a dangerous message about what makes a good teacher, and puts ridiculous pressure on all of us, as if spending hundreds of hours double-bordering our bulletin boards is somehow a measure of our dedication and competence. Our priority should and must be our PRACTICE, and our RELATIONSHIPS with the students in our care every day.

    You know me, and you know I could go on and on. Great post, thank you for being brave and giving a voice to something that many may have been afraid to say.

  35. Karen says:

    I agree with you and Amy regarding the “cute” factor. I also think all of the cuteness perpetuates a stereotype of what makes a good teacher (as Amy indicated) and sometimes the professionalism Teaching young children. I know it is wonderful to teach young children and they are cute, but it is an incredibly hard job and somehow I think the cute factor glosses over the complexities of the job. These thoughts represent my opinion only :)


  36. Katie says:

    I have to admit that for a while there, I was enamoured with the TPT world, and although I still create and sell/give away resources, I don’t actually use a lot of them in my own class anymore because I’m more interested in the children and not what my display looks like. By that I mean, I’m more interested in how the children interact with the classroom as a learning tool. My walls shouldn’t be covered in generic (cute) posters with rules I made up or examples I developed. It should have the children’s work, their writing, and their ideas. I strongly believe that a classroom should be a working document, much like my planning! I have found that when my kids are involved in the making of alphabet lines and number lines and birthday boards (and they are created for a purpose), they are FAR more engaged and I see them approach and refer to the walls with interest and frequency. I have to admit that I’m still guilty of making things look a certain way, whether it’s my class newsletter or a printable game, and I find I’ve done it for parents and the big boss, not for the kids. I make my own clip art, I design my newsletter layout, and I’m very particular about labels! I love a good label. But I’m slowly letting go of some of that digital design obsession (slowly), and giving the kids more freedom to make the class their own. They don’t care that I used a great new font or that the clip art is all made by me. They care when their work is on the wall (and by “their work,” I don’t mean “craftivities!”).

  37. Michele says:

    As a high school teacher, I love to collaborate with my colleagues–whether they are online or in my school. If I find something I know my department can use, I’ll send it to them. I spend a lot of time on my units, and I have shared my folders with my department (we are all on Google drives). The more we collaborate, the better we get. I don’t use TPT because of the cost and because I can’t edit it to benefit my students.

    Check out
    there’s a lot of free resources–it’s from the UK, so the grades/objectives are different but the resources are amazing. And free to download. (And there’s quite a few cute things for the lower grades.) Some are in .pdf format but the majority are editable.

  38. Morgan says:

    Matt, I 100% agree with you! I’ve been saying the same things for at least two years so I LOVE this post!!!

  39. Matt Renwick says:

    I am not familiar with TPT, other than what I read from others’ experiences (I am an elementary principal). You make interesting points about the quality of prepared activities. If preparing for student learning is taken out of the equation, what is left? Planning. Planning tasks, planning assessments, planning for when a student doesn’t do what we ask them to participate. All of the opportunities for inquiry and exploration are squashed when the learning progression only follows one thread. When we have a plan in mind, our ability to be responsive to our students’ needs are diminished.

    This post reminds me of Peter Johnston’s quote from his book Knowing Literacy (Stenhouse, 1997): “Having labored over plans, we are often loathe to part with them, even when our students suggest we should. Planning is used to reduce possibilities, whereas preparation is done in order to manage diverse possibilities” (125).

  40. Beth Korda says:

    I wish I could change files to meet my classroom needs. This would be a huge improvement and would make some items worth buying.

  41. Jena says:

    Yet another perk of online teaching: I don’t have to waste time with “to be cute or to not be cute?” I have no classroom to decorate; my classroom in the cloud is fabulous. :) I’ve never even looked at TPT, but I’ll confess I like DJ Inkers. Lol

    Thanks for your post! Lots of great conversation has followed.

  42. Kelly says:

    Oh my goodness! My personality likes cute- I don’t decorate with any other teachers in mind- I want it to be an inviting and fun workspace for me and my students- just like I would decorate my own child’s room-and thank goodness for teachers who put it onTPT to help me get it that way!

  43. Laura says:

    Hi Matt :) I just wanted to tell you as a seller and buyer (when I can afford it) of TPT, it has changed my life. I am not a “top seller” but I work very hard on my products that I use with my kiddos for that YEAR. Of course I do not use the same activities with students year after year because they are all different. By whatever I create, I may be able to use in a few years who knows? I work 4-5 hours every night making products for my kids… especially because I have taught multi grade levels and children with special needs and did not have access. Or afford workbooks or resources.
    My last years class appreciated everything I made for them and did notice the cuteness :) I do agree that not everything needs to be cute it needs to be authentic and important to the students’ lives… but if I work hours on an activity that is perfect for my students and someone else sees that its perfect for their kids too? How wonderful to help out other teachers :) I have a big heart but I also make minimum wage as a teacher (or lower I am not sure) so even though I give away as much as I can, I don’t feel bad putting a small price on my resources and neither do my buyers. I have made amazing friends and shared so many resources through TPT. The money I earn also helps me put food on the table. I hope you reconsider checking it out sometime :) more and more products are editable but its difficult with the copyright of different graphics. And there’s always freebies!

    • Ashley says:

      Excellent points, Laura! We all work very hard..whether we are TPT creators or not. And to have somebody think that the product you spent 5 hours on is worthy enough for their class is the highest compliment. And we don’t mind supporting each other!

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Thank you Laura for the comment. I do key my eye on all resources including TPT. I have noticed some of them are starting to be editable and that is a welcome change.

  44. This blog post expresses how I have felt, but never really known how to describe to someone. While TpT is a great money maker for some teachers, many of the resources are just worksheets. It’s important to see if the item is actually valuable and meaningful, or if it is just another classroom décor pack that takes up an entire color ink cartridge. (Which are expensive, by the way!) I’ve found real gems on TpT, but most are the “laminate and go” type of products that do nothing to build student understanding of the topic/unit of study. Thanks for your thoughtful post!

  45. Materials are materials whether you buy them at a teacher store, toy store, or TpT. Me selling on TpT is no different then bundling that $5 product with additional resources and taking it to scholastic and having it published. Do you have a problem with people who publish books too? As a professional you should know it’s what you do with these resources that makes the difference. TpT has never claimed to be educational training for teachers. It’s not where you learn to be a great teacher… but where great teachers go to get resources to use with their students!

    Furthermore, to assume that because you buy something this year means you use it next year with your students is just silly. The fact of the matter is that most resources we purchase from where ever do get used year after year because they are appropriate for our class and we use them at appropriate times with the appropriate children. Good teachers don’t just use resources because they have them. That is an insulting comment to the teachers of our profession and not to TpT.

    And after thinking about it… lots of what you say is more insulting teachers than TpT. TpT is just a place to purchase or download free resources. The way I see it is that you have issue with the way teachers teach in which case what are YOU doing about it? My resources don’t provide the education of the children… the teacher does!

    And I don’t make my room ‘cute’ because I want to impress anyone but my students. They are 5 and get excited over bright, colorful, and cuteness! Have you ever been to a kids birthday place that was all ‘real photos’? No. Do I include real photos in my lessons and classroom… of course! To assume that because someone purchases a product from me because it is ‘cute’ is insulting because my activities SUPPORT learning.

    I am a kinder teacher and I do sell on TpT – and do rather well at that. I don’t take your post as a personal attack but I do think you are completely misrepresenting what TpT is and would even say you are posting this because you know your page hits are going to be through the roof with this topic. Just saying.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Jennifer, I am posting this because I thought it was a topic that needed to be brought up. This post has been sitting as a draft for over 6 months. I have been working on it for over a year. I have talked it through with MANY of my friends because I know it is controversial. It is near and dear to my heart to tell teachers they can be themselves and that relationships are the key to success in the class. I have no reason to want to “drive up blog traffic” as I don’t ever sell anything on my site. It is fun to see more traffic but only because I want to reach more teachers. I am not assuming teachers laminate and reuse, I see it in the real world. I met many of the top sellers on TPT this past week and I can honestly say they are all wonderful people that have a passion for teaching and helping others. I appreciate your thoughts and concerns. I don’t claim to share anything more than what I think and feel. Any conversation that makes me rethink the why and how makes me a better teacher.

  46. OK so it looks like you are doing TONS to help teachers! =) So thank you for that. I spoke before I checked out your site and only responded by your blog post. I just wish you had a better opinion of TpT as it is changing many teachers lives for the better! Financially for those who sell and classroom wise for those who use our resources. My school is a big customer of many TpT stores. Let me tell you… when they are not using TpT resources, they have items that are dittos! Yes I said dittos! So it is impactful. Is it the be all end all… NO! Is it making them better teachers… NO! But it is helping update resources! Kay I am done!

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Jennifer, I tried to make it clear that TPT does have value. Maybe I missed the boat in getting that across. I wanted to call into question the why and how it is used by some teachers. Again, I appreciate your voice in this conversation.

  47. jeanniemleigh says:

    Weren’t you at the Vegas meet-up and buddying up with LOTS of TpT sellers? I am just so sad about this that I can’t bring myself to say anything more…. I really respected you and what you contribute technology-wise and that has really dissipated tonight :(

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Yes I was at the Vegas blogger meet up. I was there to meet bloggers and didn’t realize it was a TPT event. This post is not about the people who sell, it is about the people who use and buy. I hope you will add your comments at some point, sorry to disappoint but I am speaking from the heart.

  48. Melissa says:

    I would just like to quickly respond to some of the statements regarding being able to edit files. I am a seller on TpT and have been selling for a year now. When creating a product, most sellers use clip art, fonts, backgrounds, and borders that we purchase to use commercially. If we were to make these files editable, we would be violating the terms of use from the artists we purchased from. It would make it quite easy for someone to take those same images and use them for his/her own use.

    Another thing to consider when making files editable is copying. There are far too many people on TpT who start out by copying items from the Internet, teacher resource books, and unfortunately other sellers. Make an item editable will allow these individuals to easily lift text from our products and sell it. Trust me, I’ve seen it done way too many times to count.

    While I do understand that it is not always in the best interest for our students to receive the exact same instruction as the previous year’s group, TpT has actually made it easier for me to adjust to my students. If I’m teaching a lesson in science and my students really get excited about life cycles, it is super easy for me to quickly use TpT to search for more activities to use with them. I’d rather spend a few dollars to get something that meets my needs quickly so I can have it to use the next day, rather than spending a few days to create something, or spend hours searching the Internet.

    I’m not saying that your points are invalid, and I actually agree with most of it….except for the cute. It makes me happy and I can guarantee that my 3rd grade students have commented about being excited to use a monster fraction unit because the monsters were so “boss.”

  49. Julie says:

    I love tpt! Why spend time reinventing the wheel? For the most part we are (or should be) teaching the same things so if another teacher created a great unit which meets the objectives you are teaching why wouldn’t you use it? As with any curriculum, every page may not meet the needs of your students and you may need to tweak it a bit but wow, what a great time saver tpt is! And I think we would all agree that there is never enough time in the day to accomplish all that we want to accomplish in our classrooms.!

  50. Anna Lynn says:

    To everyone lamenting about not being able to change files bought from TpT–there are usually ways around this. Oftentimes the seller will work with you if you need it tweaked in just a certain way; other times you can take just part of the activity and insert it into your own framework, other times you can edit with cutting and pasting and white out (just for your own classroom, of course). I agree that it could be a trap, a way for teachers to start with TpT and then take it to their class, but I think the problem there is with the teachers–not TpT in and of itself. Just like any other resource, there are great ways to use it and not so great ways. I am a 2nd year K teacher, and I don’t go to TpT to browse–I go when I have a specific need in mind. I have found some excellent things there, that I usually do tweak to some extent.

    As far as the cute room themes, I think kids do notice it. I’m not saying they can’t enjoy a plain room–but this past year when our fire marshal came, he made us take everything off the walls. Previous marshals hadn’t been so strict, and when he left, we did put some things back up. Regardless of your thoughts on that, my point is that the kids noticed–our room was bare for 2 months, except for what I could fit on 3 bulletin boards, and then over a long weekend I spent hours putting things back up–those cutesy room things, as well as our word wall and some anchor charts. My students came in on Monday and were in awe of the change, and so excited to have a fun room again. My theme for this year is Kindergarten Kingdom–for the sake of having some fun with my students as we learn, and reminding them to have the manners of a knight/lady as they interact with people. I have a secondary “theme” of Sporty Sight Words–a different sport for each list of 10 words. I will have bulletin boards in my room themed for these categories, as well as other places to display student work and accomplishments, but those themes don’t take the place of anything else–they simply add to fun of learning. A well-done theme (it is possible to overdo it, for sure) in a productive classroom is like wrapping paper on a present–it doesn’t replace the present, but simply enhances it.

    Finally, on the topic of cutesy worksheets and such, no I haven’t had a student comment me on fonts or graphics either. I don’t spend my own time making those cutesy things; when I make things for my class they are fast and simple to serve my purpose because I am not naturally artistic. That’s part of the reason I enjoy purchasing some things on TpT; the extra “sparkles” on those materials balance the plain-ness of others. I wonder, if you were to give a student two copies of the same worksheet, one with a graphic or two that relate to the topic (I agree, real-world is best, but I don’t think cartoons are harmful) and some fun (but easily readable) fonts, and the other without graphics and in a plain font, which one the child would choose to do. Worksheets are not ideal…but especially in K when so much of the focus is on teaching them to read and write, worksheets are necessary sometimes. And especially in K, learning should be fun! I feel sorry for kids in upper grade classrooms where the environment has grown sterile and the teachers focus so much on the lesson that they don’t worry about trying to make it fun. Yes, sometimes learning is dull and you have to push through a slump to learn something important as an adult, but if we start that too early, that’s when kids get burned out by the time they’re in 4th grade. My goal is to teach my kids what they need to know, and to make it interesting and fun enough that they want to work and learn without me having to drag them along.

  51. Mrs. Garcia says:

    One huge problem I always have with tpt is the clip art and graphics used. As a teacher in a school where all my students are black, middle eastern, or Hispanic, I have no use for most things with clip art. My students need to see that they are important, and seeing graphics or smiling people with Caucasian features is not the way to do that. I do like “cute” in my classroom (and am actually required to follow a checklist when setting up, pretty much covering everything cutesy), but I much rather use illustrations I create with my kids or real pictures. Believe me, they love seeing themselves on a poster or a center game. If you need cute, there you go!

    Thanks for posting this! Teachers really should start looking at tpt as one of many sources that may help them reach their students best, but not as the only route.

  52. Matt says:

    Great article Matt. I think cute can be more for the teachers than the students….

  53. Miss G says:

    Um, I just fell in love with you. I’m sorry. I know you don’t know me from a bar of soap (I’m not a bar of soap) and its really sudden. I know. It too me by surprise …

    In seriousness though, AWESOME. I agree. While I do own a pair of owl print flannel PJs I dont slap owls on my work … or polka dots … I’m a chick, and I don’t like cute. I prefer retro or art deco in my décor … interior design mags and nature inspire my classroom design … You make some excellent points, some of which I have made myself in a somewhat different educational context, but you’ve given me more to ponder (and more ammunition :D ). Thanks for that. Brilliant.

  54. There are a few TPT-like sites out there and I pretty much stay away from them. There are two main reasons for this. First, why pay for something when you can find so many great resources out there to help you create you own lessons and activities for free? Secondly, I am a huge cheerleader for collaboration in education. So, I would prefer to spend some extra time and energy finding somebody willing to share/collaborate with me and create something that works for my students. This is why tools like Google Plus are so valuable. Networking with really great people is my favorite way to find new ideas.

    Rock On,

  55. Leanne says:

    It would seem you are not a discerning TPT user if all you see is cute. I have got some awesome resources from the site and cute is not what I have been looking for.
    Yep some of them like the fraction Qr codes i recently purchased are laminated and will be repeatedly used (as long as I have access to iPads) – just because you use something more than once doesn’t make it poor teaching or lazy. If we recreated the wheel every single day we wouldn’t have a chance to actually teach. Every time we use a resource we reflect and improve our teaching around it.
    In my experience few teachers actually share unless they see an advantage for themselves.Teachers are constantly paying out of their own pockets. If can pays couple of dollars that save me hours of work or provide an engaging teaching experience I hadn’t thought of, I’m willing. On the other side of the coin, if I can share some of my ideas and recoup some costs, I’d like that.
    Just my thoughts :-)

  56. Fawn says:

    Thanks Matt for this post. I agree with you totally about the “cute” factor. I have observed many classrooms that place cuteness a priority over what is age-appropriate and relevant to student learning (alignment to common core). One truly needs to reflect as an educator. What is my purpose as a teacher? At times I hear from some teachers that they simply do not have time to complete the many items on their to-do list, but yet they make it a priority to have the classroom looking like an IKEA showroom. I have met teachers who teach kindergarten just to showcase their creativity and their artistic talent. Admittedly, I do purchase from TpT and am selective about my purchases. I have found a seller who uses real pictures on her products (there might be more sellers) and a number of quality materials available through the site. I believe a teacher needs to be knowledgeable and current in the profession; otherwise, the best decisions for students would be overlooked. Guess what? One of the places to begin this journey is through the information highway.

    • Ashley says:

      I’m not sure why everything thinks that “Cute” takes away from learning. Our classroom is ours and our students second home.. Yes there are teachers who focus on cute over content.. but a majority of teachers have Cute Plus Content and their cuteness never takes away from the content.

      • Scott says:

        I don’t think that cute takes away from learning. But I have felt the “pressure” to make my room more cute. I have no problem with a teacher who wants to decorate his/her room in whatever cute theme is chosen. But I do have a problem being seen as a lesser teacher – one not as committed or not as good – because I’ve chosen a more low-key approach. Please don’t judge me on the level of decor. That’s when cute becomes an issue.

        • Ashley says:

          Scott, I completely and totally agree. That is a problem. People think that just because someone’s classroom isn’t “cute” means they are not as good of a teacher… when in reality they could be a much better teacher. I am by no means one of those “cute” teachers and have felt the pressure of having to make my room & things Look better. We cannot judge a teacher based on his/her classroom appearance.. that is just insane and unfair.

      • Dee says:

        Sometimes, “cute” can take away from learning. For instance, there are a ton of cute fonts out there, but kids can’t read them. A lot of fonts I see on TPT products or pinterest pins also have uppercase letters written like lowercase letters, or vice versa. As a kindergarten teacher, this would be confusing if I were to give this to my students. MTF Jumping Jack is SO much cuter than Arial, but my kids need to know that “I” is capitalized.

  57. Melissa Clancy says:

    I think your post is great. I do buy things on TPT from time to time and I stay away from the ugly clip art and polka dots. I find it really disappointing to go on teacher’s blogs and Pinterest and be inundated with sales in JULY…ten percent off for today!!! I have decided to just stop reading them. I know that they best kind of teaching and learning that takes place in my class can’t be bought!! Happy Sunday! Melissa

  58. Grace Hanna says:

    I might find something on Pinterest that could help one of my students only to click on it and TPT wants me to pay for it.

  59. Kerri says:

    I have been thinking about your points that you made which I’m guessing was your point. You want to make us think. Well, I can say that since I discovered blogs, TPT and pinterest my teaching has changed. It has changed for the better. I love seeing what other people are doing in their classrooms. I have seen my kids do things I never realized they could do because I saw this great idea. I loop with kindergarten and first. I truly believe my last loop went further than any other class I have had.I think that in part has to do with me discovery this online world. I was energized and excited about the possibilities. When I see an idea or a product, I take into consideration what would work for my class or my students. I don’t throw a worksheet at them because the worksheet is cute. I also don’t decorate my classroom for the sake of cuteness. I want my room to be an inviting space for the kids to come into. Kindergartners have enough apprehension about starting school to begin with. I want the classroom to be a place they enjoy being. A place where they can show off what they know and be a part of. I hope that as teachers and professionals we can use our judgement to decided what works best and what meets our students needs.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Kerri, I can say the same thing about being a connected educator. Twitter and blogs changed my teaching life four years ago. If everyone was using the site in the manor you describe I would not feel the same way about TPT. Thank you for your thoughts!

  60. Molly P. says:

    I would say that you definitely have a great ‘hook’ with your title. I might could turn this blog post into a great writing lesson….grab your reader’s attention and make them want more. It’s getting you the page views you are probably wanting and you’re creating a little buzz in the TpT world. The problem is, you go right into saying that you don’t have a problem with every part of Tpt, but you never share anything great about it. So, what are some great things about TpT?

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Good point Molly! The best part of TPT is it gives teachers a way to connect with other teachers. As I have said several times relationships are the key to success in educations and that means with the kids, parents, admin AND other teachers. The community is the biggest asset of TPT in my mind. Secondly there are great things being shared on the site. My hope is that we encourage teachers to be more thoughtful about what they buy and how they use it. Again, page views are fun but not my goal. I have no reason to want to increase page views. I share because conversations make me a better teacher. Appreciate your comment!

  61. Lauren says:

    Funny you wrote about this topic! I just blogged about not buying into the “cuteness” to impress parents. I’m letting my kids decide what should be on my walls. What is important to them and what they feel is worth posting. I think it’s important that as teachers, we focus our time on meaningful, interactive lessons. This means they should be ever-changing, even in the middle of that lesson. Cookie cutter worksheets do not meet the needs of all students. TPT is a great place for teachers if they love a cute class and I get that completely but buying lesson resources that are black and white and in worksheet form makes me bonkers!

  62. Barbara says:

    I agree with a lot of what has been said. I only go to TPT for the ideas. Then I change them to fit the needs of my students. I will only download if it is free and I can use it or part of it. It is good for acquiring ideas and adapting them to fit your needs and those of your students.

  63. Mrs. H says:

    I think you do have to be selective when purchasing items on TpT. But, you also have to be selective when shopping at a teacher supply store, or from a catalog. I do buy a lot of things from TpT, but they must fit the criteria that I set for my classroom. The things I buy usually do not make the top 100 selling list, because they do not fit my criteria.

    There are great products on TpT, but it requires effort to find them. A product can only be as good as the teacher using it. As kindergarten teachers, we adapt just about everything we use. Let’s face it – most products are not appropriate for kindergarten. Like you, my students are different every year. Although, I always have some students that do not know letters, sounds, their name, numbers, etc. – I also have one or two that are ready for first or second grade. So, I know I am always going to need differentiated materials, open-ended type centers and activities, guided reading materials, guided math materials, and products to use for intervention. I am always searching for RtI materials, and have found a few great ones.

    Everything I do in my classroom has a purpose. No busy work! I consider myself a creative person, and I do like a cute graphic or two (as long as it doesn’t take away from the educational value). I also like a cute room, as long as it is organized and efficient for students. Everything must have a purpose! Kindergarten should not be Crafts 101, but should be kid-friendly.

  64. Ashley says:

    I think you make a valid point about what classrooms should be vs. what SOME (definitely not all) are or will become due to TPT. I am a buyer and seller (though not of many items) but I NEVER buy anything thinking, “I am definitely going to use this again next year.” I search for things based on the needs of my classroom that year. While all of the resources may not be editable, they are adaptable to fit your classroom and they are only resources, not a be all end all to your instruction. These resources are a FABULOUS place to start planning your instruction and adapt to your needs. And they are made by some fabulous teachers. I do fear that the age of task cards and centers will create some teachers who fit into that “laminating culture”… but just like any profession, there are the good and the bad.

    As a first year teacher, I was told that my classroom basically needed to be “cuter”… more posters/student work/things hanging on the walls. I focused on what my students were learning, how they were learning it, and their excitement for school.. and being a first year teacher, I couldn’t do it all. SO I decided I would focus less on the look of my classroom and spent all my time.. hours upon hours.. of planning for the content…only to be sort of crushed at the end of the year when I was told that my classroom needs to look better. There is sadly a push for teachers to make their classrooms LOOK nice. You could be a bad teacher but have a classroom that looks like you’re awesome and it’s all good. It’s that business, “First Impression” analogy that’s going around. The parents first impression of me is going to be my classroom so it better be a darn good one. Very Sad. That being said… I also think that teachers want to make their classrooms look engaging and inviting. We spend most of our time in our classrooms so it needs to be a place that we WANT to be rather than “I have to be here because this is my job.” Not to mention it needs to be a place where kids want to come back. Your relationship with your students will bring that excitement, yes.. but kids are excited to come to a room where they are rockstars, or there are owls hanging around. And for most teachers, I don’t think that their cuteness takes away from the fact that they are awesome teachers.

    Just my two sense..

    2nd Year Teacher

  65. Matt, thank you for this post. As a teacher who entered a school culture where cute was an Olympic sport I truly appreciate your candor. That was 5 years ago and shortly after beginning my own journey at that school I became the mentor coordinator. I think the hardest part of my job became helping the “newbies” not have a catastrophic meltdown about their room because of the “Olympian Cute Culture.” It was frustrating because these very awesome educators felt defeated by “cute stuff” before a student ever entered their classroom and that is SAD. As far as TPT, I agree 100%, thought it a million times, but was just not brave enough to say it… I might feel differently if it was a template that was modifiable for my specific classroom needs. Thanks for sharing and look forward to meeting you at @edcampDallas !

  66. Finnymama says:

    Laminating doesn’t biodegrade for 300 hundred years apparently, so watch out on that front. This is a great discussion thread, thanks for writing so succintly about this interesting issue. We teach our students to be critical thinkers and I’m glad to see it being modeled in the adult world!

    • Matt Gomez says:

      I agree Finnymama! Discussions make us all better regardless if we agree or not. I learn so much from these conversations.

    • lessonswithcoffee says:

      Holy Cow! Really?????? I am in my masters program (MAED Natural Science and Environmental Education) and we constantly talk about what we are doing in our classrooms to help the environment! I wonder how much laminating is really going on out there????

  67. Alexandra says:

    I don’t go there very often either. I’ve found many of the materials to be of poor quality, often with poor grammar.

  68. Chris Sweitzer says:

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks for writing what I was thinking!

  69. Becca says:

    Great points! I do use some TPT items, and I do sell some TPT items. None of my items are “cute” because that’s not what I use in my classroom. And I think some of the things I used and sold last year are items that I won’t use this year because my students need different things this year. I don’t think that printing things off of TPT is any different than buying a book and copying pages out of the book to use. With that being said, I always try to think about if a worksheet or activity is just keeping them busy, or is it making a difference.

  70. Abby says:

    I teach middle school and I totally agree with you about the PDF and the cutsie fonts. We should be able to tailor what we pay for for our kiddos. However, my biggest problem with TPT is that a lot of teachers are violating all kinds of copyright laws by reproducing handouts, worksheets, activities, etc. that have been published by textbook companies and other educational institutions. I have seen so many items published for sale on TPT that are clearly not the original work of the teachers selling the products.

  71. Matt Gomez says:

    Jameson, glad you found me! It is interesting how many people bring up the money part because I didn’t mention that at all. I share all my stuff for free but don’t feel any negative thoughts toward those that choose to sell. This is about content and the pressure I think teachers feel to have a perfect looking classroom.

  72. Sheryl says:

    I use TPT to search for items that meet my individual student needs and ones that reach the standard.

  73. eblecki says:

    As a TpT seller and buyer, I see nothing wrong with your points and actually do think they are valid. My whole take on it is, I’m making this stuff for my classroom anyway, if I can list it on here and have a few people buy it, then that’s a plus for me. As a special education teacher of students with autism I often find that there is a small market for the products that I create with Boardmaker, simply because most teachers aren’t interested in those images, but for my classroom, they are perfect.

    When I am purchasing products it’s most often because it’s something that I’m looking for at that time. I’m never really shopping for “long term.” Now, will I be saving that item amongst my files and probably pull it out the following year, yes. But when I’m purchasing, I’m purchasing for right here, right now. For what my students need at that moment. Beyond that, it becomes a resource that I have and may use in the future, or may not.

    The cute aspect I think comes from more of the perspective that if the teacher feels good about the materials or about how their classroom looks, then they will feel good about being there. I know it’s not all about that, but for me, if I take pride and put in time to make my classroom look well put together, I’m going to enjoy spending my time in there even more. The number one reason I love my job is because of my students, and that’s why I’m there everyday. But to walk into an organized and well put together classroom in the morning makes me feel much better than walking into one that’s unorganized. It’s all about personal preference in that department. I know amazing teachers whose classrooms make me cringe when I walk into them, but they know where all there stuff is. That all comes down to personal preference. You just don’t see the people who could care less about their organization and decor putting classroom pictures on the internet, therefore creating this “ideal” that we all have to have organized, matchy-matchy, themed classrooms.

    I think your post has done exactly what you intended for it to do, and that’s to make people think.

  74. Disclaimer: I’m not a teacher.
    I educate my preschool children in my home and whenever possible, I strongly prefer to use real images rather than clip art.
    About a month ago my 4 year old was eager to learn about cats so I made him some printables with images of real lions, tigers, leopards, etc.. To me it just makes more sense to surround our children with images that will captivate them, inspire them, not just amuse them or bore them. Children are naturally drawn to nature, both the tangible forms of nature in their backyard and the real life images of nature they find in their books. By using cartoon images and clip art in our teaching supplies, we really are watering down the impact we could be making.
    Just one mom’s opinion though, no offense to those who do prefer the “cute” clip art and such. We’re all just trying to do the best we can, even if we don’t see eye to eye on what “the best” actually is.

  75. I found the comments as interesting as the original post Matt. Great conversation starter. I think my favorite comment was actually yours, and it was the advice that you gave Adam, “relationships are the key to success in the classroom. Nothing more. Be yourself and avoid the pressure to be like others!” Amen brother!

  76. Chrissie says:

    I agree with the cute for cute’s sake. When I started each year in MS Science the room always looked kinda empty. I wanted to fill my room with the students experiences, not posters hung to make the room look full. Cute is fine, but fill with student experience!!!

  77. Kristin says:

    I TOTALLY agree with you about the cuteness factor! Any suggestions for dealing with a principal who thinks cute is polished and polish is more important than the underlying structures and/ or academic challenges of a Title 1 population?

    • Susan says:

      My suggestion would be to focus on the “polished” part. Make things look neat and crisp and polished in YOUR way. I think that polished is polished whether it’s cute or business like. You can’t deny organization and neatness. I teach high school and so many of the teachers because they think it’s too “grade school” to decorate teach in ugly, depressing, messy and disorganized rooms or really ugly and visually damaging (lol) rooms where they try to toss up a few posters with absolutely no consideration for where or how or even tape up paper announcement sheets with masking tape. You can make something as plain as a bulletin board with daily announcements polished by using symmetry and matching push pins rather than mismatched thumbtacks. Just some thoughts.

  78. kstengel1 says:

    Great post Matt! I am glad that you are giving me (and others) “leave” to avoid the pressure of the cutesy thematic madness. I follow many blogs and it seems that the majority are doing themes or giving advice on how to do themes. I was honestly beginning to believe that I wasn’t giving my “all” to my kids. I teach pre-k, I honestly don’t think some of them could function in some of the classroom ideas I see posted online. I look at some of the classroom pics and I feel overwhelmed by all of the stuff I see. I can only imagine how my little people would feel. I do try to make things welcoming and inviting to the kiddos; however for the most part, I start out with a basic blank canvas.

  79. Cyndie says:

    WOW! I buy and sell on TPT. I love it, because it is current. I can find things as the wave comes in and the pendulum swings. I don’t have to wait for a book company to get wind of it, send it to their publisher, wait for approval, revise, send it to the printer and so on. Teachers are in the trenches and living what is happening in their classrooms and districts.

    Next year I am teaching a class that there are not many materials readily available. I found some on TPT and will be creating the rest.

    As for cute, I do love cute! I have cute fun stuff and I have cute practical stuff. A lot of my products are geared for decorating classrooms. I spend most of my waking hours 9 (sometimes 10) hours a day in my classroom. I want to have something nice to see every day. I want my kids to love coming to school and for my classroom to be inviting to visitors.

    I love that TPT puts the money into the hands of hard-working and usually underpaid teachers. As a single mom who is raising my son on my own with a teacher’s salary…as a teacher who spends money on my classroom so that my students have the things they need (both from TPT and other places)…as a caring person who often uses the funds from TPT to buy shoes or groceries for students’ families who are struggling…I am thankful every day for the opportunities that TPT financially provides and the friendships I have made because of it.

  80. Great post, Matt. I love how you always say what you feel and why you feel that way without intentional offense or judgement. It’s ok for teachers to disagree, however I completely agree with your post. My room is almost completely bare at the beginning of each year because I want my room to be filled with my students’ work/experiences… things that hold meaning for them, not me. Our rooms should be inviting not necessarily over stimulating. My house isn’t covered with polka dots and glitter (although a glitter and feathers never hurt anyone), so my classroom isn’t filled with those things either. A former great principal of mine once asked, “What educational value do these things on the wall represent?” That question resonates with me each and every single school year.

  81. Diann says:

    Thank you, Matt, for saying so simply things which nag at me also. I have wondered if I am just ‘getting too old’; that I do not see the appeal of the ‘scrap-booking’ look for educational materials. My other concern with TPT is the sharing vs. private enterprise model for education. I strongly favor sharing, and despair that our hard working teachers feel compelled to market their work in order to help sustain themselves financially.

  82. Brighid says:

    You wrote something I’ve been pondering myself. thank you! My main issue with TPT as an EC educator, is that most of the ways I want to teach can not be printed from a PDF. Didn’t we all learn way back when that young children learn from play? Yes, it takes longer to gather the materials than to click ” print” and it takes more room to store them, but I’d rather set out ten teddy bears to count than have the kiddos ring ten on a cute worksheet any day. Even though I’m only in my thirties, sometimes people think I’m old- fashioned because of this. I’d just rather save my ink, spend more time gathering than laminating, and let the kids be cute ;)

    • Anna Lynn says:

      I agree with you about how it’s better to use realia rather than worksheets–I think so too! I teach Kindergarten, and sadly there is such a push toward accountability that worksheets are becoming necessary even to document what is done with realia. Last year we were barely allowed 20-30 minutes of centers 3-5 times a week, and we haven’t gotten our official directives for this year but we know there is supposed to be an hour of math as opposed to the 30-45 minutes we’ve been doing, so we’re guessing that center time (with home, puppet, building, math, reading, and puzzle centers) will be replaced by math stations. Not an awful thing, since most math manipulatives are fun, but even last year we were encouraged to have the kids be accountable for what they did at center time–so I won’t be surprised if we have to make them accountable at the math stations.

      In short…no longer is it enough to have kids practice counting 10 objects or writing their sight words in a sandbox; now they have to do that and then redo it/record it onto a worksheet. Frustrating, but if I have to, I can at least do my best to make it enjoyable.

  83. Jenny says:

    There is far too much that is just “cute” for teachers. Cute WITH content is fine. Sometimes, teachers spend energy on making things cute because they like it (and for some things, I do too- because I spend so much time there!) but when it comes to learning materials, it’s important to weed out the stuff that’s only cute and make sure the content is strong too. I know teachers who have adorable seasonal bulletin boards that change constantly- and I’m sorry, I just don’t get to that because I don’t have enough time or wallspace to spend on “cute” alone. I do think building a comfortable classroom environment is important and the cute can be a PART of that, but my walls are covered with anchor charts and usable word walls and things my students made or use. TpT (and Pinterest) do put more of a focus on the “cute” and cause more competition, but in some ways, blogging and that little bit of competition motivate me to be creative in my instruction, too, so you get the negative consequences with some powerful positive ones.

    I agree, too, that too much of what’s out on TpT are just worksheets with some clipart on them, but I think that’s why those sellers who do well are doing SO well- because they go beyond worksheets and really design creative, interactive activities. And of course, there are teachers that use something like TpT out of laziness- to get print and go lessons- but I don’t know that most teachers do. I’m a new teacher, and there are so many more things I’d love to create for my 3rd graders firsthand that I don’t have time for. When I buy from TpT (which is rare because I’m a new teacher and something of a cheapskate :) it’s because I see something that’s a quality product my students need that will save me tons of time. And then, just like a teacher’s resource book or a copy of something from another teacher, it goes in my file and only comes out next year if it makes sense to use again with my students. (To be fair, though, most things I buy cover a topic that ALMOST all classes will need, at least for some students.) I really like to buy a pack with lots of activities so I can pick and choose out of it for what works best for my students, too, instead of just printing and using it just because.

    Some teachers are TOO focused on the cute over the content. (Nothing wrong with liking cute, but you just have to be careful.) Some teachers are TOO likely to use materials immediately after printing without adaptation for their students (using TpT materials or anything else!) Some teachers are TOO likely to use the same materials (again, TpT or anything) year after year without trying to update or improve- and that’s not helping their instruction improve or fit for each class of students.

    So while I’m a TpT seller and peruse TpT regularly, I really don’t take much issue with your critique. To me, it seems more like a critique of the teachers who misuse it than the service itself. Sure, the service makes it easier… but to me, it also makes me a better teacher when I find truly wonderful lesson materials that I might’ve never come up with myself or had the time to create! It just takes someone using the materials and resources in the right way and truly searching to find those that are quality- like any public marketplace, you get the bad with the good!

  84. Amanda says:

    Hi, Matt. I thought long and hard about your post this morning, and as you know, I wrote somewhat of a rebuttal wrapped up in a narrative about my journey with TpT. :) As I said, I don’t entirely disagree with you about exercising caution and allowing our students to dictate how we approach our lessons. I just gave an illustration of a slightly different viewpoint. I am including my blog post, per your request:

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Thank you Amanda! I appreciated your narrative and thoughtful response. I think the next question is how do we help (or encourage) teachers to use all resources in the best possible way and keep the focus where it belongs?

  85. Sarah says:

    I am have worked in an elementary school library for years and recently moved to classroom teacher. While in the library I worked with the whole student body. I can testify that younger students almost always prefer real pictures that cartoons. Many young students (especially boys) will not get a non-fiction book unless there is real pictures because if it has cartoons they think the book can not be true. They have a very literal mind. As students get older they start to be more interested in comic graphics and exciting fonts. Every class is different and gender difference also play a huge roll. Thank you for writing this post. It makes a lot of good points.

  86. As a friend of Matt’s, and someone who only recently learned of the magnitude of TPT (maybe it’s because I’m Canadian?), I’ve been following this post really closely. A huge theme in the comments is that TPT is a lifesaver for new teachers — the very teachers who may lack the experience and reflectiveness necessary to think really critically about materials and how to use them. I think perhaps a much larger question is: how do we better support new teachers so that they have access to resources they need, and also have models for the level of reflection and questioning that makes us all stronger educators? I’m not sure what the answers are, but what I see here is a group of passionate, articulate teachers who really care about our students; if anyone can figure out some answers, it’s us! The dialogue happening here is REALLY important, and we need to start bridging the gap between The Cute and The Anti-Cute, and creating a deeper level of understanding.

  87. jbkr73 says:

    Wow. I can’t believe that some people are suggesting that the plans/ideas/projects I create to work with my students are the intellectual property of the school. Hello? Who created them? Not my superintendent (that’s for sure) not my principal, ME. So if it’s my creation, I have the right to sell it or give it away as I see fit. TPT is a wonderful way for us grossly underpaid teachers to make a little bit of extra money and I would much rather give that money to a fellow educator rather than a multi-million dollar corporation.

    As to cute, when my kids(2nd graders) arrive on that first day, the room (colors of borders, theme) reflects my personality and tells them something about me as we get to know each other, which is important. The kids get a kick out of it. (Yes, some have mentioned the colors to me. “You made everything black and white!”, “I like dogs, too!”) By the end of the year the classroom reflects what we’ve done together, but the underlying theme is still there so that I don’t have to recreate the wheel every year.

    Do I laminate games and center activities to reuse with next year’s kids. You betcha, and I’ve been doing that for my twenty-odd years of teaching, long before TpT came along. Each class’s needs are different, sure, but I haven’t met a 2nd grader yet who couldn’t use 10 minutes in a center reinforcing say…nouns and verbs, even if they already knew them.

    I guess I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Themed rooms and un-editable worksheets have been around long before TpT. I’m just glad that it’s teachers making the $.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Bogeysmama1, actually many times what you create is owned by the school. It is something you need to be aware of. It matters when you make it, where you make it and what tools you sue to make it. I think most TPT sellers have a good understanding of that so I didn’t mention it at all but as you note it has been discussed in the comments. I wouldn’t call this all “fuss” I would call it a conversation about how and why we do things for our class. It is easy to get in a rut or have tunnel vision when preparing for the year so I sometimes need reminders of why I am teaching. Thanks for the comment!

  88. Amber O. says:

    I actually found your blog because I follow the other blog that wrote the “rebuttal” to this post. I feel like I’m getting ready to introduce myself at an Al-Anon meeting: Hi, my name is Amber, and I have spent more money than I care to think about on “cute” stuff from TpT.

    I am getting ready to start my third year of teaching, and I have to say that I was quickly “seduced” by all the cuteness that can be found on that site. The worst part: I probably have only utilized a third of what I purchased! This saddens me, because I am by no means a wealthy person (I am a teacher without grad hours, hello?), and that money could have been better spent on things that would have actually helped my students (or to pay off bills quicker!). I recently uploaded my first item to purchase on TpT, and it has yet to be sold. I’ve been toying with the idea of just offerring everything I make for free, not only because I am obviously not making money, but because I have stumbled across so many blogs lately that are offering their amazing units and packets for free! They are spending time and energy to make things for classrooms, and are not at all worried about being compensated. Isn’t a common practice for teachers to beg, borrow and …borrow without permission?

  89. Lauralee says:

    You have some valid points, you really do. In fact, I thought about his post all day. Here are my thoughts: Feel free to comment about how I interpreted this! Thanks.

  90. I was born loving colorful ducttape, bright sharpies, and glitter. I’m not a fan of “cute”, but a fan of the colorful world we live in. I just couldn’t agree more with what you have written here. I’m a collaborator. I share openly. I make things and feel really, truly happy when others benefit from their use and truly enjoy sharing. I’m bothered by the “borrowing” of ideas for profit, the need to slap a “for sale” sign on ideas, and the way TpT encourages teachers to profit off of collaboration. I have found more open plagiarism on TpT than I have ever seen before as a teacher. If I share for free, and you ‘borrow” my file, recreate it with your name on it, and sell it? Collaboration is no longer about becoming better teachers… it’s about profit. When we share, we all get better. When we sell it, we are missing the whole point of open collaboration.

  91. Carol Belanger says:

    Great points I’ve never thought about. I’ve never bought anything from TpT, but have looked through the site. I do think sharing is better!

  92. Amy says:

    Great Great Points!! The things that keep me away from TPT is some of the sellers think they “own the rights” to things they have just reinvented. I have seen some of the top sellers attack other sellers because of this.

    Also, there are those sellers who have gotten big and refuse to respond to e-mails, blog comments and all forms of communication when it comes to a product…got my refund and left tpt alone!

  93. Jessica says:

    Hi Matt. I am a TPT seller, buyer, and blogger. I can appreciate your view because there are definitely some sellers out there who are just selling “fluff.” There are some buyers out there who will buy and use for years, yes. But how is that different than a store like School Box selling resource books that teachers buy and use as busy-work, and probably for years? I think the problem you are presenting is not a problem with TPT, it is a problem with teachers who aren’t planning the way they should, and the source for these materials has only moved to a new “site” – TPT. That doesn’t mean TPT is only selling fluff or busy work.

    I only sell things I use in my own classroom. What I sell are resources that may not fit all students, but that’s a teacher’s job to determine that. Even the things I create I don’t use year after year, but there are some things that I DO use year after year because they go with strategies that teach a standard all students must learn, or they are games that all students have enjoyed playing every year. My hope in putting them on TPT is that another teacher out there is looking for something just like that and can use it.

    Aaaaand last, as for decorating the room- do you decorate your home? (Or maybe your wife?) I want my room to feel “homey” because that is where I, and 25+ 10 year olds, are going to “live” for 36 weeks, and I don’t really want to feel like I’m in a cinder block cell. My decorating is not taking away from the interactive displays that the students and I make through the year, it is simply helping to provide an atmosphere and make everyone comfortable (pillows, chairs, rugs, etc). Again, I feel like this goes back to school supply stores that would get every poster bought out the week before school started so teachers could have things on the walls- is it right? No. But decorating a classroom to make it “cute” doesn’t always mean covering the walls with posters no one is going to read, and that definitely doesn’t start with bloggers or TPT. This has been happening for ages….

    Just my (long) two cents.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Jessica, I don’t think this is a new concern but one that seems to be going into overdrive with sites like TPT. They make it easier to find and download content without and oversight into what is fluff and what is not. I make my room fit my needs and my comfort level. Other teachers should do the same, but if you read the comments here and on twitter you will hear a voice from teachers that feel pressure to do things that don’t match their style. I want teachers to be themselves and to teach from a place of comfort and love. I am asking those that truly love cute to understand not everyone does and those that don’t enjoy cute to know they can be themselves and still be a wonderful teacher. It sounds like you are doing things the way I wish everyone was on TPT, how do we get others to use the resources in the best possible way?

  94. Heather says:

    I would like to thank you for changing the image at the top of this post. I mentioned in the other blog post that I do agree with you on certain points, and I felt the image was very misleading on what the real issue is here. As a teacher for 13 years, I saw many teachers, veterans and rookies, reach for their basal texts to plan lessons and activities, write it word-for-word in their lesson plans (or just write “See TE pages 13-15). Often times, that basal text was opened up and used cover to cover. Perhaps the order of the lessons were changed, but many teachers felt like if they “taught” the whole text, then they had taught their students all they were supposed to learn.

    I would love to see you have a follow-up post on what the real issue(s) seems to be here (or at least what it is in my mind): how do we, as educators, navigate the wealth of resources out there in cyber-world as well as in brick and mortar stores, be selective with a critical eye, utilize these lessons/activities in our classrooms that are differentiated for every child, and (my favorite part- seriously, not being sarcastic) ensure the curriculum we teach is cross-curricular and includes authentic performance tasks in a meaningful and seamless manner? The answer is certainly not easy.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Heather, yes a follow up post is coming later this week. It has become clear that how to help educators navigate the resources is one of the key issues I was trying to bring up. I hope that those creating and buying will help me in that process on how to help teachers see the content first and work to make that content meet the needs of their kids.

  95. Jean says:

    Matt, as a 2nd grade teacher I LOVE TPT, Pinterest, and cuteness. I get what you are saying though about the pressures to keep up with others and that some people might think that as long as their room is cute they have done a good job. Or that purchasing something cute makes it quality. I originally came here to dispute everything you and everyone else said against TPT. Instead I appreciated ( most) of the points being made here by yourself and others. I like being made to think and so I will be your newest follower. KUDOS!

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Thank you Jean! Thoughtful discussion was my goal. Not just for others but myself as well. In all honestly this blog is for me, I love that people learn from it but at the end of the day it is my space to share and reflect and I am a much better teacher through that process. I thank you for reading and thinking!

  96. Foxy says:

    Some people have probably already said what I’m going to say. Here it goes anyway. First off, everyone’s teaching style is totally different. If you like a cutesy room, go for it. If you don’t that’s ok too…but look around at products made for kids. They are bright and CUTE. Don’t you think there’s something to that? Bright colors/ cute graphics = kids looking. Does that mean that you don’t have to teach? Uh no, but why can’t things be cute AND full of content? If you don’t like TpT, that’s fine, but not every seller is the same. That’s why you don’t go onto the site and purchase a grab bag. You go on, search for what you need, look previews and reviews and make wise purchases. The reason I love TpT is because we’re paying for materials that have actually been tested in a classroom and have been created by a real teacher. Not some corporation that sells teaching materials. Why not put a little extra cash in the pockets of people who will likely put some of it back into our classrooms instead of some corporation that already has their pockets full? It’s kind of like Walmart vs. the mom & pop store. Walmart is a necessary evil sometimes, but when you can buy something from the little guy and help him feed his family… well, it’s just a good thing. :-) I know it has been amazing for me. It has helped me when I didn’t have the time to create what I needed and it has helped me financially since I created my store. PS… the lamination machine really didn’t get much busier because of TpT. Believe me… I know. We’re always running out of lamination and we have been since before TpT existed. If it’s there, teachers will use it up. :-) lol

    • Matt Gomez says:

      I appreciate you taking the time to share your view. I stopped laminating 3 years ago to force myself to rethink things every year. Maybe that is my next post… I don’t like the laminator :) Thanks again

  97. McKenzie says:

    This was a very thought provoking post. I think it’s all about balance, there are some things on TpT that I might purchase because it would go well with a mini lesson, math activity or inquiry based unit I’m planning. I have mixed feeling on the cuteness factor because how I set things up organizationally is my room can sometimes lend itself to cuteness, but the shell of my room is just that, until my students fill it with their work.
    There is some pressure to have exquisite rooms where everything is matchy matchy especially with the explosion of teacher blogs where most posts are dominated by the aesthetics of their rooms and the cute artsy crafty activity they did with their students where everything was cut out before hand and they all look the same. What beginning teacher wouldn’t feel the pressure of that? I think the most popular teacher blogs and TpT operate in a relationship. They present to you in a pretty format then link you into their store to purchase. I’m in no way bashing teacher blogs but it is something to think about. It seems like it is becoming big business now, where groups of bloggers get together to hype up each others products for their small circle of blogging friends. I mean if your favorite blogger/TpT seller hyped their friends products you’d probably be more inclined to purchase it. Which is fine but like you said how do they know that would work across all classrooms? Thanks for giving me something to think about.

  98. Michelle Q says:

    Thank you for this – what an amazing conversation you have started!

    I have bought from TPT – some great things some not. I worry, as you say, about new teachers. At 17 years of teaching, I can pick and choose what is best for my class but, when you’re new, it’s much more difficult. I wonder about all the teachers that do only the themes done on TPT type blogs and stores or think their classes have to have all the cute signage.

    It’s like colouring in the lines and worrying all about the finished product. Teaching is messy and, at times, doesn’t look pretty even when it’s finished. It’s the whole process – the ins and outs and working with each other that is so important.

    If a new teacher is worried that her class doesn’t look like the pinterest classes and her lessons aren’t as polished looking as TPT lessons, he or she might feel a sense of failure or inferiority. I

    t’s just that it’s difficult to pin what that great moment when your class finally gets what you have been teaching and takes it so much farther than you expected or that student who struggles with making friends is sitting on the carpet holding hands with another student. Those great times can’t be captured on Pinterest or TPT. We have to talk and connect more to do that.

    I hope this made sense – it’s difficult to explain it. I’m so thankful that I went to I Teach K and that I heard about your great blog and #kinderchat and all the rest. I’m the only K teacher in my school and it’s great to be able to be part of these discussions. Thank you for making me think about TPT and how I feel about it.


  99. kylepearce says:

    I like your point about “laminating” and using resources that were not designed for your own classroom. It makes me wonder if TPT buyers are simply looking for something to “solve” their classroom resource woes.

  100. Jen says:

    :) I agree that each year is a new year with a new set of children and we must get to know them individually and as a group! Each year I have an outline but cannot fully complete my program until I know the children! I would also like to say that pre-packaged preschool and daycare curriculum has the same issue as this! It is all about ‘pleasing parents’ not actually about what children need to learn!

  101. Katie says:

    I agree about the pressure to make things cute, but I don’t know how to stop that. I really think that comes from Pinterest, though, and not from TPT. Pinterest is a wonderful/addicting/fun stealer of my sleep but it is also a powerful and full of peer pressure marketing tool. I, thankfully, got married pre-Pinterest and I feel bad for people that are being influenced to make everything live up to other people’s standards. I LOVE all of the ideas I see on Pinterest and LOVE seeing them once people bring them to life in their classrooms, weddings, showers, baby’s first birthday parties- but wow, it looks like a lot of work!

    As a TPT seller, I came to this post unsure of what I was going to think (and ready to be mad at you), but after reading your post and ALL of the comments, I realize that you are not attacking TPT and I hope other people can see that, too. I think all of us can admit that we sell on TPT to make money. Yes, we all need it to supplement our salaries, yes we most definitely use the profits for our classrooms or to do other great things, but bottom line, the point of selling something is to make money. I can say that and then in the same breath say that I have truly enjoyed connecting with other teachers through TPT and then through Facebook, blogs, etc. It is so much fun! TPT has a wonderful set of forums where we talk about products and selling tips, yes, but we also talk about book recommendations, scary job interviews, weddings and babies being born, deaths and tragedies and even just the amazingly random stuff that our kiddos say in our classrooms! I have found TPT to be an wonderful community that is full of hard-working teachers who are willing to help each other and share with each other.

    Anyway, thanks for starting this discussion, I hope people can see the points you were trying to make. And p.s.- I feel sorry for you and other people whose administrators made you feel bad about the way your classrooms look! I love setting up my classroom each year and while I do make things cute, I also do set my room up differently every year, always looking for the best set up for me and my kiddos that year. And I’ve been known to rearrange my classroom mid-year just to try something new! I’ve had a lot of fun with a class of 7 year olds, pushing things around and moving tables- they love to help and be a part of it all!!

  102. Teresa Obert says:

    From an Early Childhood (20 years experience) perspective I couldn’t disagree with you more about TPT. My state uses daycare for PK3 and PK4 and the teachers, and YES we are real teachers, make a just above minimum wage salary (we do not get paid for overtime either). We do NOT get paid the same as a public school teacher and have to vigorously fight for our recognition as educators. FREE is a wonderful word in my profession so TPT is a blessing for those of us who do have money issues. The, as you say, “cutesy” material is an added blessing to those of us who lack the resources to buy polka dot or owl paper. Most of the teacher created materials can be modified for use in preschool so I for one am very grateful for TPT and will continue to be an avid follower. My opinion? I am a think outside the box thinker and love creating materials (or better yet letting my children create materials) that fit our unique learning situations, however, I have no problem using already created materials that will enhance our journey of discovery. I taught Kinder for several years and would love to have known about TPT then because after a few years new ideas that can be modified to my unique students would have been a welcome addition. Not all teachers are in the same boat so what works for some may not work for all so don’t throw the baby out with the bath water ’cause you may be overlooking the bigger picture – educators come in a variety of forms.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Your voice is appreciated Teresa. I am not a fan of TPT but certainly everyone needs to form their own opinion. My purpose wasn’t tog et people to stop using the site, more to get teachers to think through how they are using the site. It seems you have a great philosophy and I have no reason to argue your points. Thanks again for the comment!

  103. lenae says:

    As usual Matt, you have created a thought provoking and intelligent conversation underway here. I too have thought much about TPT both loving it and hating it. There are times I need a particular spelling game for our spelling center, for a specific group of kids for example, and for that, I find it particularly useful. However, I have been amazed that all the graphics and fonts are so alike. I teased with colleagues once, that there must be a TPT graphic requirement! I would much rather see teachers post long term units that can be developed individually for each class and group than worksheets. For example, after teaching about bridges for first grade for many years now, I have thought about putting together a long term bridge unit and selling it, but don’t want to have to do all the cutesy graphics that make it sell. On the note of cutesy, I have never been one to buy “teachery” posters or decorate my door with store bought apples or bees. I create an original door, (after school starts) most frequently with the kids assisting, to create work that correlates with our units and is authentic. It is important for children to have color and beauty in their lives. Cutesy is another thing…
    One more issue I have is the constant focus on holidays. Children do not need shamrocks, hearts, and wreaths on everything. In a global world where we need to respect diversity, holidays can be celebrated in special ways without stamping every piece of work with a Santa (and shouldn’t be unless all the holidays are being respected.)
    Keep talking everyone!

    35 year teacher

  104. Trever says:

    I teach middle school and I completely agree with you about TPT, there are tons of free resources, activities, lessons, etc. all over the web. I think that TPT creates lazy teachers who don’t take in to account their students as well as their community. There are great resources such as TES Resources where you can get tons of resources for free.

  105. Garry Hayden says:

    Well Matt, you started a great discussion with your assessment of TPT. I just recently stumbled across the site as I began searching for ideas for the upcoming school year where, after 20 yrs, will be moving to a new grade level. I agree that as the years change so do our students. Anything I might purchase from TPT would be because I thought it might be a fit for something I wanted to try in my classroom. The items I picked up often had a piece that was able to be edited to suit my classroom needs. Like Pintrest, I found it to be a good place to browse for ideas, not always to purchase, but to use as a springboard or tie-in to an idea of my own.

    I don’t look for “cute” in my classroom either, but something that is fun can be a kid pleaser and help to get them to buy in to some crazy idea I might have! Many of the posts spoke of TST, teachers sharing with teachers, I do that all the time within my building/district. Not sure that I would want to put a price tag on any of my ideas.

  106. Heidi Butkus says:

    Have you heard of the application called PDF Pen? It allows you to edit PDF documents. It doesn’t always work seamlessly, but it gets the job done!
    As for me, I buy very little on TPT, but that’s because I enjoy creating things myself! But if I am low on time. I look there. I know I can always edit!

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Heidi, I know there are options for editing a PDF but you would need to make sure the seller is ok with the edits before doing that.

      • spanishplans says:

        Have you ever made a photocopy out of a textbook and changed parts of it? The original “cut and paste” with scissors and tape. Also possible to do with any materials you purchase online, albeit easier if you are tech savy.

  107. HI
    Boy did you generate a lot of comments with this post. I confess I did not read every one so I don’t know if it has been pointed out that TPT is an “open marketplace,” meaning if you do not do “cute,” and I do not do “cute” you can find a seller who agrees with your philosophy. The beauty of this place is that there are so many choices, you can find what will work with your population from year to year. Keep questioning thought, that is how we sellers and teachers get better! Thanks

  108. Heidi Butkus says:

    Why would a seller object to me editing a document for my own use? I wouldn’t be re-selling it, so they would really never know if I changed a word or two anyway. But that’s a good point.

  109. I think it’s a matter of being selective about what you buy (can you adapt it for individual student needs). Before TPT, most teachers subscribed to magazines like The Mailbox and purchased their books. I don’t think anything has really changed except that TPT enables real teachers to publish and sell their work. So, it’s a product made by a real teacher vs. made by someone who works in an office for a company. Some things on TPT are quality & some are not. I don’t believe in using worksheets, and although I enjoy making printables, I don’t believe we should rely on them too much.

    I don’t see anything wrong in decorating a classroom as long as it is not the cluttered kind of decorating. People decorate their children’s bedrooms, so why not a classroom? I think most teachers decorate at the beginning of the year before the kids come and then leave it alone for the rest of the year, so I don’t see how it interferes with education (as long as it is not cluttered and over decorated). I also don’t believe in putting charts on the wall unless made with the children. Bulletin boards should showcase children’s work.

    As for photos vs. clipart – its very hard to find real photos that you can use without violating copyright. On the other hand, there’s lots of clipart you can use. I’ve seen TPT teachers using photos from Flickr that are creative commons, but they are walking on thin ice. Many Flickr members may not completely understand the creative commons license and may not like someone putting their photo in a product to sell. Flickr members can change their images to Copyright in an instant with a click. Even the majority of purchased photos (istock etc) cannot be used in digital files whether you sell it or give it away.

  110. Susan says:

    This was fun to read. I have lots of thoughts because I’m a high school teacher and I get made fun of for my “cute”. But my students love it; they always comment on how bright and happy my room is. I do it for students, but I also do the cute for me, but also because at the high school level teachers think kids don’t care about it anymore so they don’t decorate anything and rooms can be very depressing. As far as worksheets or materials go, I tend to just add one or two small pieces of clip art as decoration. As for photos vs. clip art, I tend to use photos in Power Point presentations. I teach Spanish so I use photos for vocabulary. I also tend to do “cute” when it comes to activities and games. I use colorful cutouts from the teacher store instead of index cards, for example. For me, sometimes the cute comes from the need to make the repetition of language practice have some variety so it is for the students and the learning. I need to make the same verb practice seem different when we do it for listening, speaking, writing, reading practice over and over and over again. As far as TPT, I don’t care for it because it doesn’t feel like “mine”. I like Pinterest because I get the idea and then I make it so I feel like it’s mine. I don’t like using someone elses actual work. I like to pick out my clip art and my sentences and my layout, etc. I don’t mind sharing things I make and I do with teachers in my district. And if TPT helps others, that’s great. It does seem like it has become more of a business and I don’t know how those teachers can splinter their focus between creating for TPT and creating for their own students, but that’s out of my worry zone.

  111. Julie says:

    As the media specialist in my school, the thing I don’t like the most about tpt is the amount of color printing that is done on our one color printer. The ink/toner comes out of my little library budget. We went through more color ink than ever before last year. Oh, and the laminating is outrageous too.

  112. poulingail says:

    There are 164 comments to this post and I am not interested in reading through them all. I have read your post and even the follow-up post since I am so late to the game.
    For a couple of years, I took a look at tons of free offerings from a couple of the above mentioned sites. I saved them and rarely got back to them later on. I thought there were so many great resources there and I only saved the ones that I thought would stand the test of time. (Seeing how much school has changed tells me many of those things wouldn’t work in today’s classroom.)
    What I really want to get to is this. The products need to be photocopied and yes, oftentimes laminated. That is a lot of paper and that adds up to a real lot of the ubiquitous WORKSHEETS! Those are the bane of the kindergarten classroom. Many of them may be “cute” as you say, but more often than not, parents complain “My kid does nothing but worksheets all day.” I realize they don’t know what else is going on all day but a few papers home at the end of the day tell them one side of the story.
    Back to the photocopying. Our principal shut us down on copying and using paper. When that happened I completely stopped perusing the teacher materials sites and found more hands-on ways of teaching and learning. Yes it took more time and thought but in the end, everyone is happier.
    I will add that we do not have good tech resources to use – no iPa#s or iPo#s, no IWB, not even a working projector for the document camera. These are really hands-on lessons now.
    I like the paying teachers sites for quick and fun activities to fill in some time or enrich a lesson with visuals. I do not recommend them for units any more than I liked boxed curricula from Pearson, Macmillan, and other publishers. I do like the idea of teachers being able to profit by their cleverness.

  113. JillianD says:

    I think my biggest question to you is, where is your information coming from? How many teachers have you observed that simply download cute things, laminate them and use them every year without thinking about their current group of little ones? Are you just assuming that teachers are doing this mindlessly? It’s a pretty big accusation to place on a group of professionals. I also think it’s wrong and have no idea how you would have come to such a conclusion. Regardless, if teachers decide to take that route, that shows they’re not a great teacher. It has nothing to do with TPT. TPT is simply a community of sharing ideas. How you use them is up to you as a professional.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Jillian, the simple answer is Yes, I have seen what I describe. I hear about it often when I present. It has been discussed with people I follow on twitter and other blogs and even in my own district. If you read the comments these issues are real concerns. However my response isn’t let them flounder. I ask questions, push against the norm and want all teachers to succeed. I ask my kids to question what they do and wonder every day, I will do no less. Thanks for commenting

  114. Erin Bittman says:

    I completely agree with your statement about losing the polka dots and owls! The worksheets and activities on TPT are over designed. You call them “cute.” I say hideous! Having all the nasty clip art images all over the page makes it difficult for kids to read and understand the activity. Plus, they look dated, like from the early nineties. Real images are always better and are more educational. When creating things for kids, I stick to primary colors and black / white. Simple design is timeless. The owls and polka dots don’t look modern. Teachers PLEASE stop using comic sans and clip art!!!!! KISS (keep it simple stupid) and don’t be afraid of the white space!

    E is for Explore!

  115. Shirelle says:

    I haven’t gone through all of the comments yet, but I wanted to come down really quick to talk about the cute factor. It isn’t overrated in my opinion. My room is always bright, welcoming, colorful….and most importantly, USEFUL! There is very little on my walls that are not used at some point during my day. Please don’t assume that because I have a lot of anchor charts on my wall that I just put them there for you (adults) to stare at and think awwww. I don’t. I couldn’t care less what the adults think about my room. My room reflects my personality but it also reflects what I do on a daily basis and who lives there, and that should never be disrespected by discounting the thought that goes into my ‘cute’ classroom. My room also looks quite different at the beginning of the year than the end. Because it is forever evolving. We need and use different things throughout the year. When we no longer need things, I graduate them to storage. And if I was wrong about needing it, it comes back to visit. And yes, I say these things and I teach fourth grade emotionally disabled students. I did a lot of switching with a coworker last year. And let me tell you, those boys commented about the differences in the rooms. No, I don’t do the owls and polka dot things, but my word wall letters were personally made by me and were pink with Disney characters. It was for me, not my kids. I could have put up simple letters, but that’s boring and that is a word that has never been used to describe me. But that in no way means that I ‘focus’ on cute. I focus on practicality, usefulness AND cute. You know what else decorates my walls? STUDENT DRAWINGS. My students always want to be part of the decorum in my room and are always drawing me things to add to the walls. And I make sure that happens because they are as much apart of that room as I am! I appreciate that we all have opinions, but I must say that take offense to having what I do downgraded because you don’t see the merit. I will end with this…when I began working at my school, many teachers didn’t decorate much of anything. My wing, which houses emotionally disabled students, looked like a prison, not a school. It was pretty miserable. No one can deny that this would put a damper on your mood! I do my best every year to avoid living (because I spend so much time there that it is absolutely my home) in a place that feels miserable just walking in the doors. I know for a fact that my students (spanning years) feel the same because they say so when I have to take everything down for our state testing. They walk in and say EEEELLLLLL. LOL. Every time.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Shirelle, I can feel the passion in your post :) It seems you think through the process of building your room, much as I do every year now too. That wasn’t always the case, and I try to challenge others to be thoughtful of the why. Sometimes I think we forget or fall into tunnel vision. Thanks for taking the time to share and I wish you a wonderful year!

  116. I think it is important to note here that Matt’s criticism of “cute” was not of cute, per se, but of the CULTURE of cute that runs rampant in early childhood and primary education. It is a problem in our field that teachers who are less into cute often feel alienated and alone in their preference for simpler, plainer, more child-created classroom design, decor, and materials. When we use a teacher’s classroom decor (and the time he or she is willing or able to put into that decor) as a proxy measure of that teacher’s dedication and competence, we do our entire profession an enormous disservice. The fact that EXCELLENT teachers and student-teachers receive poor evaluations, bad grades (see Matt’s next post for an example), and parent complaints because they have thoughtfully, deliberately chosen a simpler classroom environment is a A PROBLEM in the culture and perception of our entire profession. Cute, on its own, is one thing (and perhaps one day I will have the courage to tackle the debate over the true place and value of cute in ECE), but the CULTURE of cute is truly problematic, and we ALL need to work to diminish it.

  117. Shirelle says:

    I understand the idea of not assuming I can or cannot teach based on what is on my walls. And you are absolutely right in helping to alleviate this problem….but take a closer look at what you said Miss Night. -more child-driven classroom design… are yourself assuming that your plain classroom is more child-driven than my brightly, organized (classified as cute although I have no discernible theme) classroom. How does that help?

    • Hi Shirelle, you are correct and I should have been more clear. I should have said “child created.” What I meant was that many teachers who are judged based on lack-of-cuteness start the year with plainer classrooms because they have their students create the majority of the educational materials that get posted — not just student work, but calendar, letter and number charts, and other anchor charts that are made by students. Matt, is it possible to edit my comment to reflect that? I agree with Shirelle that we need to choose our words carefully in order to keep this conversation going.

  118. Havalah says:

    Haha. I waited and waited to comment and then Gail (see above) got to even more of what *I* was going to say than what has already been said. So, here are just a few more things…some may be new/different, some may be piggybacking on what has already been said. I think that teacher collaboration is fantastic, I love the fact that I can get ideas from a vast array of places, ages, curriculum types simply by perusing the site. I might not be able to change/edit what I see but if I work hard enough at it (with my limited tech skills- fine, pen/paper) I can capitalize on an idea and use it to fit my students needs. I, like Gail have looked at and saved many activities, I have a “to be used or looked at later” file and I know I can do that if I need to. Here are my *main* points, I use a) freebies and comment b) print in b and w (I know, it still wastes paper/ink) c) rarely laminate anything that I print until I know if the class in front of me is actually going to use the game/activity. In fact, I never laminate it until I’ve used it with 2 years worth of students. I also try to make sure I can replicate the game/activity in some way so that students can play it at home.

    One thing that has really made me all fired up this year and it’s not a reflection on TpT at all, is that with our new Educator Evaluation policy in MA and the requirement to set personal and professional goals in a hurry, we’ve lost sight of what it really means to educate and support- and our focus is on testing and data. Because of this, and additionally the CCSS, people in my building are printing out from TpT and pinterest like machines. There are no restrictions on color ink, paper OR laminating film in my building so before anything gets “kid tested” its printed, copied on cardstock/construction paper and laminated. It takes time away from people doing “teaching” or intervention bc they are cutting game pieces, it takes resources away if consumables run out and underneath it all- what if the games/activities aren’t useful to the kids?! How about trying them first? Or maybe one a week? Maybe one a month? I’m seeing 1 a day! I think that in this frenzy to be on top, some of the ready made, things that look good, are fueling the fire and through really, no fault of their own. Like I said, it’s not TpT or the teacher’s who sell there fault that this is what it looks like at my school.

    For me, it’s letting the dog/pony show-ers make it easier to dog and pony show- the cute gets cuter, the bling gets blingier and takes away from what the real teaching is. My problem isn’t necessarily with cute or blingy per se- it’s about authenticity, taking away distractions and focusing on the teaching. Is what we’re putting in front of the students a “hands on” activity that teaches? or is it simply moving things around on a board? At the same time this is also true with products we buy from brick and mortar stores, this is just the newer, shine-ier way of doing it.

    I’m going to stop now- thanks Matt. Thanks to everyone who commented before me and who I presume will come after me. Thanks to all those who post/sell on TpT I’ve learned great things from ideas I’ve seen there, and also things that remind me why I do what I do.

  119. I have a site similiar to TPT that is called I actually like TPT, but I also found that some of the lessons did not work for my students. So I created a program on the site called Create-a-Doc that allows teachers to create their own lessons to meet the needs of their students. I also have Common Core Standards available to reference when creating a lesson. I try to post most of my lessons for free, but I also enjoy seeing other teachers sell and make money…that fills my bucket just as much :) I have enjoyed reading all the comments.

  120. Shirelle says:

    I agree with your change Miss Night! I am totally with you and Matt about not judging a book by its cover. Teach it frequently in my class!

  121. Susan says:

    It’s so funny because the opposite is true for me in high school. Other teachers look at me as though I’m too “easy” of a teacher because my room is so bright and colorful and because I do many games and fun activities and use lots of graphics and make my Power Points image and visual heavy because I teach Spanish and we are learning quite a bit of vocabulary. I agree that nobody should be judged as a better or worse teacher because of how they decorate or don’t decorate their room. Personally, I think it’s more enjoyable to learn or just be in an environment that it uncluttered and pleasant. I don’t think that it needs to be “useful”. I don’t need to use the decorations in my home to enjoy being there. If the decorations in my room are useful, that’s a bonus, but they are there for storage or to make things more attractive. I like decoration that is very simple and clean and uncluttered. Something else to throw into your conversation just for the fun of it because I teach high school. The boys are the ones who enjoy my basket of stuffed animals that they may take to sit with and the cut outs I use instead of index cards. They often say things like, “Can I have a blue one instead of a red one, or look, fish, etc.” Lol. Lastly, even though I use lots of graphics, I am very conscious of making them crisp and not overdone and very uncluttered. My Power Point flashcards have ONE image on them and ONE word one them and I use consistent transitions and things like that. I think that the splintering of effects and colors and themes is overstimulating and off-putting.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Very interesting to hear your experience Susan. Thanks so much for commenting!

      • Susan says:

        You’re welcome! It’s a fun discussion. I get my best ideas from elementary school teachers. I adapt so many of your activities and games and things! BTW, just in case you don’t know about him… :D

  122. I was just reflecting along these same lines earlier this month!

    I think that you hit the nail on the head. The problem is not the cute – people who want to use cute should. The problem is the implication that those who choose not to are somehow inferior or not doing their jobs as teachers. If I plan a lesson well, my students are interested, or curious, or challenged, or otherwise engaged. No amount of clipart makes a poor lesson engaging. A cute worksheet is still a worksheet. A hall pass that doesn’t match the curtains is no less functional.

    I have a hard time with the idea that using materials from tpt saves time. Searching for a lesson that truly fits your needs, your curriculum, and your students is time consuming. Then, if you must ask a seller to modify a pdf for you, takes even longer. I often find it much faster to create exactly what I need myself. While I may add a small image in a corner, clean and clear is important. When I create myself, I keep the file saved on my computer. I can revisit it in years to come if applicable. Since it made it myself, it is easy to modify, fixing bits that didn’t work so well, changing emphasis or directions for a new group. I rarely use my previous lessons exactly as-is, but they are quick to find and to modify.

    Thanks for posting and hosting such a great discussion

  123. Jim Homan says:

    Wow Matt, your post sure generated a ton of discussion. That demonstrates that your thoughts are touching a nerve. Education needs individuals who challenge the norm and help us stretch our boundaries. Matt, this is what you are doing and I applaud you.

    It is kinda like Aaron Rodgers loving the challenge of playing without Greg Jennings this year. You don’t know what is going to happen but you move forward no matter what people say. Go, Pack, Go!

  124. Kelly says:

    I have typically created what I’ve needed in my classroom but have appreciated TPT when I needed items such as book bin labels and things that were similar or better than what I was searching for and the activities and ideas were very well received by my students… And as far as cuteness on the worksheets etc. , I believe it is just a paper form of computer graphics- our students are emerged and learning using graphics in many of the programs, videos and apps and that is one reason they are so engaged and highly motivated and we encourage that creativity! Does it matter whether it’s on a piece of paper or an electronic screen? Many teachers are lifelong learners – why should our creativity be stifled? I am happy to pay a fellow teacher for something they’ve created that I can use in my classroom.
    Also, the cuteness conversation falls along the same lines… Let me be creative in my classroom- my cuteness is primarily coordinated blank bulletin boards and curtains to make it homey and comfortable, and all my cute happens in the summer- once students are there I don’t have time for that- not once in 20 years have I thought about competing with other teachers on my classroom decor, I do it for me and my students… If you are not into the cute- don’t be- your personality is probably better at something else in the classroom than mine ! Let’s just focus on the students in our classrooms and respect each other’s teaching styles and choice of resources…

  125. John Blake says:

    As a male teacher in the elementary grades, I agree with your statement on cuteness. I focus on practicality with anything I use in my 2nd grade classroom. I do feel that TPT offers teachers a reliable source for quality items, but I also believe the products should be in an editable format; this is what I try to do with all the items I post on TPT. There are many free items available, as well. Thank you for starting a legitimate discussion and not just slamming TPT and all of its hardworking members.

  126. Matt, I am currently a secondary education teacher, in Math, and recently discovered TPT. For me the most shocking thing was the fact that teachers were actually selling their ideas/products to other teachers. I would think we would come together as a community and help each other out. I also like what you had to say about the making of a “cute” room, however, I must say that we were actually taught that we need to consider our decorations in our classroom to attract the students. It is much different on the secondary level than it is in primary school. Thank you for creating such a great topic!

  127. Cindy says:

    I think I understand why teachers get paid so little…we seem to think we SHOULDNT make money….would you ever imagine a bank or other business talking about this…we should share, we shouldn’t be selling, etc. etc. of course sharing and kindness is a good thing, but that doesn’t mean that making money and supporting a family is a bad thing. No teacher is making up all of their own curriculum, and certainly not new curriculum year after year…we just usually buy it from big companies. TPT gives you the opportunity to supplement your curriculum for small money. It’s an add on to what you all ready have. Alesson here, a game there. PDF or not, you can always tweak and must. Having an option to buy something to add to your classroom is great. I seriously doubt teachers are depending completely on material from TPT. Again, I believe it is supplemental. And for those in schools with low budgets, the prices on TPT are very affordable. As for the cute issue…I guess everyone’s idea of cute is a bit different but some might say realistic pictures of animals is cute. Oh no! Not real butterflies! My point…. I think it’s a sad day when a 5 year old cant have anything “cute” in his OR her classroom. Life gets serious enough as an adult…just read this thread…

  128. Kelly says:

    If you’re going to comment about a fellow blogger(s) it’s always nice to tag them or send them the link. I was more that a little surprised to come across your comments on what was said at the meetup!

  129. Pamela Fulk says:

    I am a middle school science teacher and a former architect/designer. After changing careers, I started in Kindergarten and then moved to 1st grade for a couple of years before middle school. I started creating my own K and 1st classroom decor because I couldn’t stand the visual distraction of so many different product styles around my room to represent different needs – word walls, math, colors, shapes, alphabets, etc. So, I made my own, and that started my selling organization decor on TPT. I agree there is too much random use of clip art, but a well-designed and coordinated backdrop makes what you want the students to focus on stand out with less distraction. Plus, from the perspective of a designer for 20 years – all people respond to good design in a subconscious way. The mind responds to well-organized and designed surroundings and THAT fosters a productive learning environment. The science room I inherited was a visual mess. After redesigning it with mostly paint and changing the furniture and cabinets arrangement, it is the most positively commented on classroom in the middle school. It is the room that the school wants to have its board meetings in, and student that haven’t been in it before always comment on how nice the room is (even the boys)! Many students ask is they can hang out in there during recess or lunch. So, don’t negate the value of a visually organized and well-designed space. You may think the kids don’t care and notice, but their subconscious does.

  130. Emily says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I completely agree! I’ll admit that I did not read all the comments before posting, but I wanted to add two points. First, I have been heavily influenced by the schools of Reggio Emilia and their idea of the classroom as another “teacher.” I prefer my classroom to be full of the children’s work and to feel like a cozy home (think wicker baskets instead of plastic, primary-colored bins) rather than full of cutesy bulletin board sets and superficial posters. I also use this quote from Micahel Heggerty as my mantra: Is it cute or does it count?

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Thanks for the comment Emily. I like the quote but want to mirror what some have been saying. It can be cute AND count. My hope is that we all thoughtfully consider everything we do in the class. Have a great year

  131. Dyan Avery says:

    Thank goodness you got a discussion going! I do buy on TpT and have found some things useful. However (going off of Donna’s comment) too many things are copied from other people. I know some sellers and work with one as well. Too many times our ideas that we give her are later found on TpT because she is selling it. She feels that if she adds different clip art it is hers to sell. TpT does not do a good job of following intellectual copyright laws. How I would love for some of those big sellers and bloggers to be exposed.

  132. Buena Kaylor says:

    I have been teaching almost 40 years, most of that in Kinder. I think TPT is the best thing since sliced bread. If I have a lesson I want to teach, I look there. I can find what I want for a couple dollars and not have to buy a whole book for 10 times more…and only use part of it…AND my money goes right into a teacher’s pocket and not some big company.

    However…there have been many things I have NOT purchased because they were just TOO cute.
    I see so many ideas for themes…and some people change them every year…and that is fine if it makes them happy. (And what is wrong with buying things if it makes the teacher happy? Hey, we LIVE in that room!) My theme is learning and the decor is whatever-I-have-purchased-over-many-years-that-makes-me-happy-and-works. I don’t get rid of anything…even if I haven’t used it in years, because NEXT year I might have the kid or class that needs it!

    • Cindy says:

      A response to Gracie…and others who have said similar….why shouldn’t teachers sell to other teachers?! It’s the highest possible compliment when another teacher buys my work and tells me how good it was and how well it worked with their students. If you feel teachers shouldn’t sell to teachers…than who the heck is going to make all of those big binders full of math, literacy, science, etc. curriculum that the schools buy us? Who better to get a quality piece of work from than a currently practicing teacher?! The curriculum comes from somewhere…why not support and “share” with each other by buying each others work when we need or want to? We all need curriculum and resources, we all buy it somewhere…why is it suddenly an issue when it’s being bought from a real live person rather than a corporation? This line of thinking makes no sense to me. Additionally, the statement that teachers should “share” really bothers me. No one can argue that sharing is good…but there is nothing wrong with making a living. Teachers pay is so poor that most of us want or need to supplement to get by. I find it frustrating that if you are a teacher, you are expected to give everything away….I have been teaching special education for 20 years. I do not make enough money to buy a home for my family in the town I live in. I LOVE my job and my students and will always be a sped teacher. I have dedicated my life to helping others. i have trained many new teachers and have given each one ALL of my lesson plans from years past so that they have a resource and a place to start from. I share and I give. Not because I am a teacher, but a decent human being. On TPT, I sell. It’s great. Teachers buy my work and benefit from my ideas and experience and all for a very reasonable cost. I have, in turn, also bought some items when I have found a need in my curriculum. It’s a great resource. So I guess I would want to remind people that just because someone sells on TPT, doesn’t mean they don’t share and give and collaborate like crazy. We do! Lastly, no one ever gets upset when a doctor charges for his or her services? My sister is an accountant and doesn’t ever get told she should do other accountants taxes for free..we seem to have this standard for teachers that we don’t have for anyone else that we must be all giving. We can be giving and make money…we can have pretty things in our room and still be good teachers.

      • Matt Gomez says:

        Cindy, I support the teachers that are making money. If you notice selling and making money were never mentioned by me. I choose to do everything free on my site but it is my own stance and I don’t have any negative feelings toward those that do. Thanks for your comment

        • Cindy says:

          Yes, my response was specifically directed to Gracie who seemed appalled that a teacher would sell to another teacher, as well as others who have said the same. I dont think any of the folks who are saying we should not sell to other teachers are returning their pay checks each week…

          Nothing wrong with posting items for free….and nothing wrong with selling items. It’s all about choices and options.

  133. MrsAColwell says:

    Hey Matt,
    I appreciate your opinions, along with everything else you post. ;) I have some counter thoughts from my perspective. I think TpT actually provides many teachers with new and fresh ideas. The ideas on TpT can be a positive influence on teachers to try something new they hadn’t thought of before; just like any other resource. I like lessons coming from teachers who use them in their classroom vs. a textbook that is years out of date and static. In other words, I think TpT is more of a current and relevant source for teaching ideas. Also, I see TpT lessons as disposable; not the pendulum swinging back to laminating. That’s how I personally use the materials. I think of them as materials to use as long as they’re relevant and meet your needs, then ditch them and move on.
    TpT has also encouraged me to learn so much about graphic design and creating in order to add to my store. So, it’s actually helped me grow as a producer with improved creative digital skills.
    Bottom line, no matter where you get your teaching ideas and materials, it’s up to the teacher to use the tools in a beneficial way.
    Thanks for sparking good conversation, and for sharing all your great ideas! ;)

  134. Jen says:

    I agree with you. You can’t buy a good teacher and I will look to TPT for ideas but typically end up chopping (literally) things up to make them my own. I had a student teacher this past thing who discovered TPT and thought she could simply buy her lessons. It was a disaster.

    • Cindy says:

      Yes, no matter what I buy or where I buy it (even my own handmade products) I always have to adapt and adjust it to meet my students ever changing needs and moods. There is no cutting and pasting when it comes to actually teaching.

  135. Jenn says:

    I think you are placing a lot of judgment on other teachers. You are assuming a lot about their strategies and they way they teach. Just because I have something in my file doesn’t mean I have to use it. I think the majority of teachers decides if something is going to be effective for their kids before they use it. You are allowed to not like TPT. I don’t think it’s right to base that opinion on assumptions about the way others run their classrooms.

  136. Ann VanDuyne says:

    I was so pleasantly surprised to read your solid thinking reasons. As a mentor and instructional coach to beginning teachers, I get so discouraged at the reliance of some teachers (both beginning and established) to use ideas from Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers or using a co-worker’s unit– without modifications and without being able to explain why it is being used. Without being able to professionally explain why an approach might help build understanding, our approach is no different than “marching straight through a teacher’s manual doing every page, every example.” Examination of why an approach may work, examination afterwards to find out just how well it built understanding, and being able to verbalize our reflective findings is essential for our profession.

  137. Beth says:

    I too get frustrated when I find a neat idea and then can not edit it. Most are overly stimulating to a learner with sensory processing issues or visual processing issues. For that reason, I don’t use many items.

  138. Margaret J says:

    For me, the best parts of TPT and Pinterest are that they have helped find blogs that I love. I like minimal clip art because it copies better in b&w than photos do. I pin or download items to remind me about ideas. I suspect I will do this more as I switch from 14 years in kindergarten to third grade. Even for programmable recording sheets, I sometimes print in color and laminate. My students (or I) can take a quick photo with the iPad for documentation and reuse over and over. As I read the comments posted before mine, there were many where I needed the Facebook “like” button.

    When I create notes home or my own materials, I usually add a small bit of simple clipart. I do this for several reasons, but it helps the nonreaders. We encourage them to check the picture. how many times have you passed out notes and the kids want to know what it is about. A visual clue helps. In the same way, parents know that if they see a certain bright color or border, it is communication that refers specifically to our class or grade. i want them to know what to look for.

    Moving to third is not ideal to me, but I had an interesting conversation with an administrator earlier this week. I expressed my concern that I may come across too “babyish” at times, being so grounded in k. He told me, as have others, (paraphrased) that the kids would probably enjoy the mothering touch from kinder infused into the curriculum in third.

    I am looking forward to your Pinterest post and hoping the discussion thread matches this one.

  139. Julie says:

    I want to shout “Amen Matt” from the top of the mountain! I think there are some larger underlying issues here. I personally want to spend my time and energy on content rich materials that lend themselves to student engagement and learning.
    Often when we decorate or set our rooms up for the arrival of students, it is for our pleasure and maybe that of the parents and colleagues who see it. For the students it is really just classroom ‘noise’. Please consider your diverse student population. The decorated classroom can act as a stimulant resulting in undesirable behavior. The desired student response is calm with a goal to have a space that allows for young minds to stimulated by learning and discovery -not the colors and characters all over the walls. In addition, the walls should fill as students learn and post. They are more connected with wall resources that they have been involved in generating.
    TPT is a great RESOURCE. I do not find it to be a time saver as there is so much searching and evaluating to do. Also, much of it is WAY too embellished; even when the content is worthy, there is too much ‘noise’ on the page with clipart and themed stuff.
    Teachers are busy and we have extremely important work to do, so it is critical that we truly reflect on why we choose to do things. Just because something makes us happy or feel good is not justification for using it in the classroom. If an action does not directly benefit our students and enhance their learning, does it make sense?
    Our student population changes every year. Their needs, learning styles and more importantly, interests are different. It is logical that our teaching should reflect that. We can stand on the framework of best practice and standards, but what we do within that should reflect the uniqueness of our students. I do not believe that effective teachers can use a universal year-to-year plan.

  140. Margot Hemphill says:

    I do agree with your points. As a student teacher last year, I would look on TPT and put together a few ideas that I found so that what I made worked for my lesson. I was inspired by many veteran teachers and love to get new ideas! One more issue I found was that there were very few Dual Immersion (Spanish) resources for me to use with my class, so I had to translate everything anyway. It was worth it, though. Glad you spoke out about this!

  141. 'becca says:

    I like TpT because of the great ideas I find there – I do buy the products and then I usually rewrite/alter them to fit my needs even if they are pdfs – it is worth my time to do so. I buy them even if I could copy the previews and then make m own versions because someone has put the time/energy/brainpower into creating the original and they deserve to be remunerated. I definitely don’t buy them to make my classroom cute – I have 64 6th graders to do that!!

  142. Ann says:

    I am a kindergarten teacher who teaches in a school where I am the only kindergarten teacher. I have used TpT not necessarily for what they sell, but to help evaluate what I am doing and see what other teachers at my grade level are using for certain learning modalities. I have been looking for blogs to help in this respect as well.
    My classroom is set up with the students in mind. When they walk in the first day there is nothing on my bulletin boards but paper, waiting for their work and that is how I decorate my room each year. There are areas in which I need ideas to help reach students who are struggling with concepts, such as number sense, order, and sometimes with students who have emotional difficulties and would really appreciate having a place to go to that allows discussion in these areas. I would appreciate knowing if there is a kindergarten forum like that.

    Thanks for bringing the topic up as it is important as educators to keep ourselves relevant to our students and their learning.

  143. I’m a teacher librarian, former grade 3-5 teacher. I’ve been working in K-8 classrooms for the last 4 years. I think we need to really limit the distractors and bring nature into the classroom, a la Regio ( I believe the learning wall idea ( helps us step away from bulletin boards as display for cuteness and move to bulletin boards as display of learning. I watched several teachers in my building move their bulletin boards and classrooms towards calmness through the use of blank space. In our over-stimulating environment, I believe we need to work at making our classrooms places where calm thoughtful learning can occur.

    I’m not against TPT particularly but I have never been able to teach ‘from the can’ whether it was an expensive published resource or a teacher friend’s hand-outs, another person’s work didn’t help me create the learning I was working towards.

  144. Natalie S says:

    While I agree that all lessons and materials should be tailored to individual students, I find it difficult to understand how your stance against using materials from TpT are any different than purchasing curriculum, teaching books, or supplementary activities from any other source, such as Lakeshore Learning or Super Duper, Inc. As much as I love my job as a school speech-language pathologist, I don’t have the time or energy to create materials for every single one of the 40-60 individual students I am tasked to provide therapy for each year. I have purchased from “real” companies for years, and adapted their materials as needed – and I do the same with materials I purchase from TpT. And I’m sorry – in regards to your comment about not being able to edit the products from TpT – what large educational company allows you to do that with materials that you purchase???

    I understand if you don’t like the “cute” factor, but there are plenty of materials without – same as with any other marketplace, you just have to search for specifically what you want. I am a proud seller and buyer on TeachersPayTeachers. When I create my materials, I focus on the content, not on the “cute,” because at the end of the day, I have specific, measurable goals to accomplish with each student, same as any other SLP. I happen to enjoy good design, but it’s not a necessary pert of any product I purchase.

  145. Jill DeGuilio-DeCarlo says:

    I think that TPT has a bunch of awesome things on it, but I am very picky about what I use because I agree that it has to meet your needs. So many times I find myself changing any worksheets or game so that it works better for my class. I also do decorate minimally just to make it more inviting for myself and my students. I’m glad to hear other people’s input thanks :)

  146. Susan Berry says:

    This summer I was invited to attend a “charge” session as part of a leadership team which included the principal, AP, and and two teachers from the school. We listened to a gentleman named Max Thompson speak to us about how to really implement change in a school. (Start with the end in mind, planbooks shouldn’t be M-F type, but rather What is the BIG IDEA, Question, etc., for the week and all the supporting plans; teachers need to SEE in action what is working, i.e. observing peers; administrators need to be in the classroom a lot, but when they go into a classroom, they should be looking for one or two behaviors/skills, not just a general overlook….) Something he said over and over again was that we shouldn’t have Martha Steward classrooms. He said NOTHING should be up on a wall, bulletin board, or ceiling that isn’t a teaching tool. But the big caveat was this: If someone walks into your classroom and asks a child about one of the teaching tools on the wall, he/she should be able to tell you how it helped him/her learn THAT DAY. If the child/ren are unaware of how to explain that tool, it should be taken down. Any other decorations are just distractors, he said. As a teacher of 30 years, I have always said that I needed to feel stimulated by my environment. I’ve always had parents tell me how much they liked my classroom environment and they will come back years later to tell me their children really liked this, that, or the other in my classroom decoration. So, I can’t say that I agree with Max 100%. However, this year I walked into a teacher’s classroom whom I really admire, and even I wondered what the hanging colorful “paper balls/decorations” were supposed to be. Were they symbolizing planets? Flowers? Then I saw on a blog the same decorations and realized they were just that – decorations. Even I, queen of “I’ve got to create an environment/theme, thought, “No. There’s no educational purpose in those decorations. As for the TpT themes, I’ve created a few myself and bought hundreds. But I use different ones all the time to serve the needs of my students. However, I tend to go with certain teachers’ units – the ones that really teach, that aren’t just cute, the ones that don’t “distract” from the real concept being taught. Often I take what is designed to be a “center” and use it either whole-class or small group, then I move it into a center for reinforcement.

  147. As a middle school teacher, I think I’ve bypassed the “cuteness factor” issues mentioned here about TpT. As a TPT buyer and seller, here’s a little food for thought:

    * Selling on TpT and sharing resources for free are not mutually exclusive

    * Buying resources on TpT does not imply that one is going to use materials that aren’t a good match for students

    * Buying resources on TpT adds to a teacher’s options in ways to approach lessons – to me, having “what I did last year” and new ideas I may have found on TpT only equips me better to meet my students’ needs

  148. Renee says:

    Disclaimer: I sell (mostly) lesson plans on TpT and I don’t do cute.

    I think the title of this blog post, “I teach Kindergarten and I don’t like TpT” is misleading at best, because from what I read, and in the comments that have followed, it isn’t TpT that’s the problem, it’s teachers who are not doing their job the way they should. TpT is just a market, a tool, a resource depository. It is no different from a teacher store or a catalog of teaching materials. If teachers are just printing things out and using them whether they are good for their students or not, that is not TpT’s fault…. that is the teacher’s fault. To blame TpT for creating a certain culture is, in my opinion, blaming the wrong thing. It’s like blaming the tools if a contractor builds a substandard house.

    TpT is not just a worksheet market. There are lesson plans, powerpoint presentations, thematic units, etc. Any of those items, if purchased in a regular teacher store or from a catalog, would presumably have parts a teacher would use and parts they might not use. As a teacher I have purchased resource books with worksheets in them, some of which I used and some I have not used. Buying from TpT is no different. The responsibility lies with the teacher.

    The lesson plans I sell I EXPECT teachers to tweak to suit their own students, the same way I would hope they would tweak the lessons in the teachers’ manuals that cost school districts thousands of dollars.

    As for the cute thing…. that is a completely different issue, and again, putting blame on TpT doesn’t make sense to me. Don’t like cute? Don’t buy cute. But something else. There certainly is plenty to choose from, if one looks. There is plenty of cute stuff in teacher stores and school materials catalogs, too.

    Let’s put the blame where the blame lies.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Renee, I don’t disagree with you that the responsibility ultimately lies with the teacher. My belief is TpT can do more to help teachers by encouraging dialogue and reflection among buyers and sellers. I truly believe TpT wants to help teachers! As they grow I feel they can continue to find creative and innovative ways to support teachers in using the resources in the best way possible. The title of the post is my opinion, I won’t use the site until the pictures are real world images and everything I want is editable to meet the needs of my class. At that point I might start liking the site. I have learned that the people on TpT are passionate and amazing in what they do.

      • Renee G says:

        You say, “My belief is TpT can do more to help teachers by encouraging dialogue and reflection among buyers and sellers.”
        Buyers have two ways to communicate with sellers, with direct rating/feedback after buying products or in the “ask a question” feature. What more do you think TpT should do?

        You say, “I truly believe TpT wants to help teachers! As they grow I feel they can continue to find creative and innovative ways to support teachers in using the resources in the best way possible.”
        Are you saying that TpT has a responsibility beyond providing a site where teachers can share resources, both free and for a price, with other teachers?

        You say, “The title of the post is my opinion, I won’t use the site until the pictures are real world images and everything I want is editable to meet the needs of my class. At that point I might start liking the site.”
        What about those resources that do not even lend themselves to needing to be editable, like lesson plans, or unit plans, or other “non-printable, non-worksheet” type resources? And am I understanding you to say that you would not use the TpT site unless every product there agrees with your needs? Really? That confuses me. Do you refuse to shop at a grocery store that carries brands you don’t like along with brands you like? Do you refuse to step into a brick-and-mortar teacher store that has a “cute” section? The fact is that there are many editable products available on TpT. In fact, I know of sellers who bend over backwards to create editable versions of products by request. Whether or not you want to “shop” at TpT is your business, and I have no desire to try to convince you that you should. But it seems that you are wanting TpT to be something it is not and never claimed to be. TpT is an “open” marketplace for teachers. That means teachers are in charge of what they offer there for free or for sale. TpT administration is admirably “hands off” unless there is a problem of some kind or there is a copyright issue that is brought to their attention. I, for one, wouldn’t want TpT to dictate to me what my products should be, what I should charge for them, or require them to be editable. That is my business. I don’t force anyone to buy my art lessons. I offer them for those who are interested.

        You say, “I have learned that the people on TpT are passionate and amazing in what they do.”
        Thanks! I agree. And frankly, there are some people on TpT who are not. Like anywhere.

        Another thought…..

        I’ve read more than once in your posts that you wish TpT would allow for dialogue and discussion. Since you do not have an account there, and do not sell there, you perhaps are not aware of the Seller’s Forum, in which there are many, many discussions of all types, sellers helping other sellers with products, presentation, curriculum ideas, technology issues, and, yes, what we should be and can be providing for students. Are some of these discussions pats on the back? Of course. But some are not.

        I do appreciate this discussion, but wish there was less generalizing.

        • Matt Gomez says:

          Renee, please show me a post or blog that has the type of dialogue present in this post. I am afraid there is a culture on TpT that does not support anything but 100% positive feedback. That is my concern. TpT even has a new blog to try and promote collaboration. That is an awesome response form them!

          I don’t use things from any teacher resource. I make everything for my class and adjust each year. I don’t laminate or save anything because it forces me to rethink what I am doing each year. That is my way of doing things so TpT does not meet my needs at this time.

          My opinion is there is an issue with how TpT is being used by some teachers. I have seen it and discussed it with many teachers. I speak from my own experiences and felt compelled to address the issues on my blog. I never claimed to be all knowing and made sure to say “I think” on every point. My hope is that teachers that might have been using the site without true reflection will do so now. In addition I hope those selling will reflect on how they can better support teachers using their products. Those that are already doing this can ignore my thoughts altogether.

          I agree, discussion is valuable and I have learned a lot from this process.

        • Jon Fines says:

          Renee – I think that you’re super thoughtful in bringing Matt to respond to comments. It is a good, and healthy discussion. Regardless – it is still just his opinion, nerve-hitting as it may be to TPT and non-TPT fans alike. I’d also like to see a TPT blog post with similar discourse. With the new collaborative blog, perhaps it is in the works. You have read his follow up post, haven’t you? It is quite humble, in my opinion. There is passion in both of you!

  149. I don’t do cute. I also am not a traditional classroom teacher, but God has blessed us with a new (old) home that we are renovating. And in it, we have a LIBRARY that is also our homeschool classroom. I decorate with books and hopefully invitations to learn with spaces that are inviting and encourage our children to explore subjects that interest them along with doing the work needed for foster reading progress and math comprehension.
    As for TpT, I do sell there, but I don’t make a lot. I sell the things I am already making for our students to use. I have some freebies posted there as well as freebies on my blog that will never be put at TpT.
    I think your post leaves a lot of holes and honestly, I am somewhat appalled by your continued misspelled words. Sorry but that is just something that grates on my nerves.
    And I do agree that you posted this for the hits. Sorry but that is just my take on it.

  150. misseakteach says:

    Hi Matt,
    Sorry if this has been asked. I haven’t gotten a chance to read all of the comments. I’m just curious if you have actually purchased anything off of TpT? While many of the resources on TpT have the appearance of “cute”, it’s actually just the cover page. People might call my resources “cute”, but every page after the cover page is strictly content.

    Just a thought…

  151. Autumn says:

    I think that before you attack a site, you might want to at LEAST have an account and check it out! I sell on TpT, but my items are digital resources for teachers. Nothing “cute”. No laminating involved. Just resources for teachers to use with their students. It sounds like the ACTUAL statement you are making is against pre-made decorations. This seems kind of like saying that Lakeshore is bad because they sell borders and bulletin board sets. In fact, they carry a lot of products with educational value as well. I am reminded of somethig my grandma says; “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Autumn, the issue here is feeling that it was an attack. I know many felt that way but I was simply voicing my concerns. I am sorry you feel that way. I stand by my concerns and understand that they don’t speak to the entire site and everyone there.

  152. Autumn says:

    Maybe you should have chosen a different title for your post. “I don’t like TpT” sounds a bit like an attack – not at all welcoming or productive.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      I guess we will have to disagree. I don’t feel saying I don’t like the site is an attack. I never said people should’t use the site or called out those that do in any way. I asked questions and laid out my thinking. Again, if you felt it was an attack I apologize, it wasn’t my intent. I have appreciated the dialogue it created and the only thing I would change is the original image I used. That was a mistake. By the way your website is wonderful, just added it to my RSS feed.

  153. Autumn says:

    Thanks for checking me out! I think the issue here is how teachers choose to decorate their rooms. Right? It does not seem like it really has much of anything to do with TpT. I have taught first grade for the past 8 years. This year, I have a first year teacher next door. Her room is C-U-T-E! No doubt about it! The problem is she purchased things (NOT from TpT) that are not kid friendly. They were not made BY a teacher. They were made by a large corporation. They are DARN cute, but the fonts are difficult to read – especially if you are only 6! I did not buy, but made (and perhaps should sell) the same type of signs in my room that she has in hers. My signs have kid-friendly visual clues. The print is comic sans (most like what I am teaching them). They are NOT cute – but they serve the purpose MUCH better. I think that whatever we do, we have to remember who it is for. It is not about US. It’s about THEM! As a first year teacher, she has not yet figured out what works for those little guys. By selling products on TpT, I can help teachers find what works. Tried and true! I make EVERYTHING I use, because I want it to be a good fit for my needs. Not everybody has the time, motivation, or creativity to do that.

    I get SO many questions from teachers. Many teachers don’t know how to view PowerPoint as a slideshow! Do you think they could make interactive games to use with their kids? No, but I can make them and teach the teachers how to use them.

    As for editability, I would like you to read this comment that somebody posted just today:
    “LOVE IT!!!! Use it every day, along with your other versions of this idea. I work at a special school and have a small class of boys who mostly have autism and adhd. I love that they can learn and move in a structured manner. It keeps them engaged throughout the entire lesson. They love the whistle! I have downloaded all the Dolch powerpoints but must confess I have altered the actions to be inclusive for one student in a wheelchair. The powerpoint means he can also practice his switching and take control.Thanks for enabling changes and thanks for such a great product.”

    TpT is about creativity, sharing ideas, collaborating, and becoming better teachers. Who benefits most? THE KIDS!!!

    • Matt Gomez says:

      The issue is being purposeful with everything we do. Decorations, lessons, the words we use, etc. Nothing more. I am not challenging you personally, only speaking from my own experiences.

  154. Autumn says:

    My TpT store is purposeful in every way. All of my products are of educational value (well, I just made Back to School Truth or Dare that is 100% just for FUN) and I stand behind them. I think that because you do not have an account, you are not aware of some of the collaborating that goes on between buyers and sellers. I have a list of things that I am customizing for teachers this week (and sending them the updates for free). Not everything works in every class. That is the beauty of TpT. It IS editable and customizable! It is PERSONAL! Not all sellers do that, but I promise you TpT has more willing to work with teachers than large corporations. I made April Fools Phonics Jokes last year and customized them to say each teacher’s name in the punchline. Where else can you get that? I intentionally make products on PowerPoint rather than a video file because I NEED teachers to be able to adjust them. I give them directions on how to customize it. YOU may not need any help finding resources, but most teachers do not make every resource they use. I know that it is hard to admit you are wrong, but I think PERHAPS you are generalizing the site and should take another look at TpT!

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Autumn I am wrong. Why it was your mission to get make me to say that I will never know. It is really difficult to have dialogue when one side is trying to “win.” I respect your opinion but you don’t need to defend what you do on the site to me. I never called you out or attacked you in any way. I said I don’t like the site, not that it was bad. I made it clear in the original post that they were my thoughts and observations.

  155. Autumn says:

    It’s not a matter of “winning”. I don’t want anyone to miss out on something that is really cool! Your blog reaches many teachers. Your words make an impact. I don’t want you to be misinformed or misrepresent TpT. I am telling you that there are LOTS of great things happening over there! I am a First Grade Teacher and I LOVE Teachers Pay Teachers! :)

    • Jenny says:

      Autumn, I don’t think he’s meaning to attack the teachers who use TpT in a meaningful way, but instead to encourage teachers to really think about those things from any source that they use in their classroom and be sure that they are purposeful for the kids. If you read many of his other comment replies, I think you will see that he is not condemning every teacher who uses TpT or sells on it, but rather how easy it is for teachers to use it wrongly.

      I’m a seller myself and have found GREAT resources there, too- but I didn’t see this as an attack because I can understand his concerns about how some teachers use the site without adaptation for their own class or emphasize cute over content instead of the other way around. Honestly, I think if ALL TpT sellers and buyers read this, it would be a good way for us to reflect on how we use the site and what we create for it- and it seems to me that might be Matt’s goal with this post. I know you may not agree with the way he said these things, but TpT is NOT perfect, and as a teacher, I hope you can find a way to learn something from this post!

      I hope you’ve also read his follow-up post to this one… I think it clears up a lot!

  156. Mitzi says:

    I think that you hurt some TPT sellers feelings but it had to be said, Matt!

  157. kinderqueen says:

    Hi there,
    Very interesting discussion. I, personally think the keys to all of this is BALANCE. I am not sure, but I don’t believe anyone mentioned a simple thing called TEACHING STYLE. Every teacher has their own style of teaching. Some prefer and are comfortable with cute stuff, others prefer to place their focus elsewhere. Does that make one way better than the other? I don’t believe so. Difference is sometimes difficult for some people to embrace. No one can make you feel pressure to conform, you actually are giving them permission to make you feel or question the way you prefer to do things. I say, to each his or her own. If you do not want cute or glitter in your classroom then yay for you…own it and embrace it and so what to the judges! I have taught both k and 1st for 20 years and have seen ALOT of changes in education over the years. I just chalk it up to another little change in the world of teaching. If you embrace or shun TPT, ultimately it is nobody’s business but your own.

  158. tina says:

    Great post along with a great discussion. DJ inkers is awful. Really, really awful. It is the cotton candy of the classroom.

  159. Anna says:

    I love Teachers Pay Teachers! I have switched grades (not by choice) four times in six years so I am grateful for easy to print and use items. This is not about money; however, I would much rather pay a colleague than a big company for pages I can reproduce. I do enjoy walking into a colorful room – just an added bonus of TPT! All I can say is THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to all of the hard working teachers that allow me to benefit from your delightful items on TPT!

  160. Laurah J. says:

    I have to question the ethics of signing up for a “seller account” on TpT if you don’t actually intend to sell here, just to see what kind of comments your thread is generating. Quite frankly, that does seem quite like the actions of an internet troll who is simply out to get attention. Not being sure that you’ll return to the forums, and in the interest of transparency, I wanted to post my response to you here.

    There are many quality resources here on TpT. Yes, there are subpar resources as well, but most of those are posted by sellers who came here to “get rich quick”, and when they realized they couldn’t do that, left and have never been back. The successful sellers here put a lot of time and energy into their products, marketing, customer service, and into building relationships with buyers AND other sellers.

    If you’ll take a closer look at the forums, rather than the threads that simply revolve around you, you’ll see that the majority of sellers aren’t here to make a quick buck. Many are here to supplement their meager teacher salaries so they can buy more resources for their classrooms, or so they can make ends meet for their families while still doing something they love and helping students, or paying medical bills for family members, or donating to beloved charities- the list goes on. And the fact is, 100% of these sellers wouldn’t be able to do these selfless things without TpT.

    I personally am an ESOL specialist. I started creating materials because I couldn’t find what I needed to meet the needs of my students. I’m particularly gifted in crafting materials that emphasize the acquisition of academic English through content. My materials can not only improve the performance of English language learners, but of many below grade level learners in mainstream classrooms. Through TpT, in the past two years, I’ve been able to impact approximately 120,000 students. More than I could have in two years with a caseload of 70 each year.

    Many of the mainstream teachers that I have met in my career, though talented teachers, are at a loss when it comes to how to best serve their ESOL students and how to teach academic language. It is a point of pride for me that my materials can help already great teachers improve their practice further. Many of my materials are differentiated to reach students at a variety of levels.

    Everything that I create is to improve my students. And, my students DO notice that I took the time to create the resources. Everything I do and send home with them has my copyright down at the bottom (C) Laurah Jurca. “Mrs. J?? Your name is at the bottom of this, with the c-bug! Does that mean you MADE this?!?” When I say, “Yes, I created this just for my students, to help them be better readers (or writers, etc),” my students are SO excited and think it is so cool. They notice what clipart I use and what fonts I use, and are better proofreaders than I could ask for. It is a learning experience for them (and empowering) when they find a mistake that I made. And, it makes me human to them.

    One year, during one of my pull out ESOL groups, I was using a resource with students that I had developed and was preparing to post on TpT. One student (who was a repeat in the grade) finished a little earlier than other students, so after checking his work, I sent him back to the mainstream classroom. On his way out, another student said “Haha, You have to go back and do work- boring work- with Ms. X”. I said, “Wait a minute, you’re doing work here!” His response? “Yeah, Mrs. J, but this is fun work, and I get it!” What more endorsement do I need than that?

    Yes, my time and expertise is worth some money. It helps pay off my student loans that I expended to earn that expertise, and to make ends meet so I can continue impacting teachers and students. I love my job, but I can’t survive on that salary alone- and not through my own fault. I haven’t been living “beyond my means”. I got a job in NC, bought a house, and 4 years in was RIFed. I had to move 9 hours away to Maryland to find a position. Though we rent out our house in Charlotte, because of the market, the rent doesn’t even cover the full mortgage, plus we must pay rent and expenses here. Without TpT, I could not continue teaching.I speak 4 languages and have a variety of degrees- I could easily make more money in many other fields I am qualified for, but teaching and touching students is where my heart is. TpT allows me to stay here.

    Now, I don’t go in for cute either (wait wait, dear fellow TpT sellers) but I don’t think that cute and content-rich are mutually exclusive. Everyone has their own style. For you and me- cute isn’t it. That’s ok. For others, cute is it. If that’s what they choose to decorate their classrooms or content with, that is fine. But many of the “cutesy” resources here on TpT are also content rich, and you failed to mention that in your post. Whether or not a product has a cute appearance doesn’t speak to the product’s quality, depth, or value.

    If a teacher chooses to use a resource poorly in his/her classroom, that is on the teacher, and not TpT. But the fact is that teachers are real people too, as you well know, and not every dedicated teacher has the creativity, know-how or time to create their own high-quality resources. TpT gives those teachers a chance to still provide high-quality, engaging activities for their students. If used correctly, TpT can also be a great tool for allowing a teacher to differentiate with a variety of resources.

    I hope, that since you have created an account on TpT you will give TpT a chance and experience what it truly is. I hope it was not just an unethical move to see what sort of sensationalism your post created.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Just to clarify what Laurah is saying. I signed up for TpT account because there was a specific link that was driving tons of traffic to my site. As with most bloggers I keep up with how people are being referred to my site. You can decide for yourself if that makes me an “Internet troll” as I was called in the TpT seller forum.

      I will say again that my post was not a personal attack against anyone. I was simply speaking my opinions about the site. We should be able to questions each others thinking and practice without hurting feelings.

      • Laurah J. says:

        And I am simply sharing my opinion. Did you read my response? I never said you “personally attacked” me, nor did I say anything intended to hurt your feelings. I simply pointed out that if you’re so offended about being called a Troll, then maybe you shouldn’t act like one. You wanted your post to generate some sensationalism and provoke a response. When you realized that it had, but you were not privy to the response, you went out of your way to create an account on a website you just told thousands of readers you didn’t like in order to see what kind of response your words had provoked. That is the definition of an internet troll, my friend.

        I appreciate that you focused on that part of my rather long response instead of the other salient points I made in rebuttal to the original post.

        • Matt Gomez says:

          Laurah, questioning someone’s ethics and calling me an Internet troll is not an opinion, it is an attack. Glad you are not representative of the typical interaction I have had with TpT. Once you do that the rest of your response is lost to me. Sorry.

          • Laurah J. says:

            Actually, I never said that you are an internet troll. I said that you’re acting like one, and as of yet, you’ve provided no evidence to the contrary (including the digital equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears after a perceived insult). I do think it is unethical to sign up for a seller account on TpT if you only want access to the forums and have no intent on selling there- that is an opinion, not an attack. I said that one of your actions was unethical, not that you are an unethical person. I’m actually very glad also that the interactions I have with the teachers on TpT are far more pleasant than with you. I thought you were interested in opening a discourse about TpT, but that is hard to have when you are seeking out non-existent “personal attacks” in every sentence.

          • Matt Gomez says:

            Laurah, so it would be Ok to say “you are acting like a fool” to one of your kids? Because you didn’t “call” them a fool right? If you can’t see that the comments all started with an attack against me then I don’t know what to say. Stick to points about TpT and we can talk. All you had to do was leave the first paragraph out in the first comment. Why were those comments necessary other than to point out negative things about me?

          • Laurah J. says:

            I mentioned that I left my comment here as well as the TpT forum because I wasn’t sure you’d be back to see it. My first paragraph was in response to your comments in the TpT forum that “Since this comment thread is driving so much traffic to my site I finally had to get an account so I could see what was going on…Calling me a troll and attention grabber is harsh…” My comments were in response to your own comments, not designed to portray you in a negative light. And yes, when I taught middle school I had more than one occasion to tell my students to stop acting like a fool- they do it a lot at that age. Fortunately, my students had a solid understanding of simile, and were able to interpret such a comment as it was intended (to make them stop and think about their actions and the message they might be sending).

            Your comment in the forum implied that you were there NOT to learn more about TpT and the ways in which you may have been incorrect or over-generalizing. Rather, it gives credence to the idea that you’re just trying to stir the pot and get attention, and wanted to see the results. Whether or not that is the truth of the situation, that is the impression that your actions and words carry.

            The fact is, you made a lot of generalizations in your post- both about the items on TpT and the teachers who make and use them. And, some of those generalizations are insulting- like the notion that teachers reuse things over and over whether they work just because they spent some money on it. Are there teachers out there like that? I’m sure. But I think the vast majority of teachers come to TpT because what they have isn’t working and they’re looking for something better that DOES work.

            TpT is a wonderful community of hard working, dedicated, creative and talented teachers. If you really want to learn more about what makes TpT great and become part of that community, then I welcome you. But if you’re just there to stir the pot or feed your own ego, then I ask you to find another place for that.

          • Matt Gomez says:

            Laurah, my thoughts were intended to share my concerns. Every concern I have is a real concern for me. My hope is that teachers will read those concerns and decide if it pertains to them or not. If a teacher reads those and decides they are invalid or ridiculous claims I would think they would move on and consider me crazy. My post was intended for teachers that might need to hear those things, but more importantly for me to reflect about my own practice. The reason my comments are more general is because I did not want to specifically call out any person or site.

            Why did I join TpT today? Each month I look through the referring sites to my blog and head over to offer them thanks or share a comment on their post. There were A LOT of hits directly from TpT so I looked to see why. Since I have been asked to join and check out the sellers forum and I can only see the thread by joining I thought that was a great reason to take that step. I was intending to thank someone for sharing a link to my blog. I wasn’t expecting to people attacking me on the forum so I commented. Unfortunately my first thread was a negative one. I will keep connecting, I have been slowly getting to know “TpT people” in the community through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. How joining today is unethical I will never understand.

            I feel you are good person and the content on your site is great. I promise I have no agenda and am not a bad person, take some time to look through my site. I really do question things often, this post is not something different for my site.

          • Laurah J. says:

            Matt, I can agree to disagree on the question of ethics. LIke I said, if you are truly there to contribute to the community in a positive way, then it is a non-issue. The question of ethics in your joining only applies if your intentions are nefarious. It is possible, that based on my first impression of your comments in the forum, I have misjudged your intentions. If that is the case, my apologies.

            Through all of this dialogue, your name has seemed familiar to me. Then I remembered why- months ago in the forum, someone posted a link to another blog in which your classroom was featured. I was highly impressed at the innovative ways you were using technology in your kinder class. So impressed, in fact, that I even shared the link with the teachers in the CPD class I was teaching at the time. I loved the engaging ways you used technology to help students improve all four domains of language. What lucky students you have- I’m sure they will remember your class for years to come. Even better, you give them a fantastic kinder year to set the tone for their entire schooling experience.

            I do agree that it is possible to use TpT incorrectly, but the fact is, that is true for any resource that we as teachers can buy or use. Sometimes, teaching is trail and error and you don’t know what works until you try it. As professionals, it is our responsibility to be reflective on our practice and determine what works with a group of students and why- whether we created the resource, it was passed on, or we bought it.

            I personally don’t buy on TpT. Not because I don’t think that there are high quality resources there. Rather, I choose not to buy because, among other reasons, like you, I feel that I know my students better than anybody, and I can create resources uniquely tailored to their needs. I started creating resources because I couldn’t find what I needed for my ELLs.

            The problem is, many education programs don’t tell their teachers that they can do that! I was lucky and had a professor who really stressed the need to make our own materials. I took an entire course on creating instructional materials as part of my program. One reason this area was so stressed in my graduate program is because, until recently, there has been a lack of ESL materials in the market, and an even greater lack of high-quality materials. Furthermore, my program was a bit ahead of the curve, and focused on teaching English through content, rather than teaching social and instructional language in isolation. Therefore, I HAD to create my own materials out of necessity. I’m still incapable of using a textbook program or someone else’s lesson.

            However, I don’t have children of my own, and my husband is very supportive of my career. Therefore, I can spend HOURS, DAYS, and WEEKS of after school time developing a resource. Not every teacher is this lucky (or this creative). And, if I needed it, chances are, some other teacher out there needed too, and couldn’t find it. Not ever teacher has the time, creativity, or technological know-how to create their resources.

            While I am sure that there are teachers out there who simply download a lesson and use it if it matches an arbitrary objective without thought as to whether it is appropriate for their students (just like there are teachers who religiously follow the textbook program, script and all), I feel that those buyers are in the minority. I believe that the majority of buyers buy items from TpT and use them in ways that work in their classrooms. I offer activity cards and suggestions for use, but have had many comments from teachers that they used them in this way or that for their classroom, that I had never thought of.

            I do not see your post as an “attack” on TpT sellers. My concern is that your post might turn off the people who would use TpT correctly. And not because I’m worried that my bottom line will be affected, but because I’m worried that teachers who could benefit might miss out on amazing resources or joining TpT as a seller and taking part in the wonderfully collaborative community. Like other sellers, I’m protective of this community that has not only fostered my professional growth, but has supported me through my mother’s breast cancer, starting a new position and my cat’s recent troubles. I feel that you did not acknowledge some of the points that you have since acquiesced to in the comments- like cute and content rich are not mutually exclusive, as one example.

            Again, I have never intended to “attack” you, my comments were simply in response to your previous comments in the TpT forum. I’m not a person to sugarcoat things, I say what I think. Sometimes that is interpreted as insulting when it is not intended way- I can see, based on the comments here, that you should certainly relate to that.

          • Matt Gomez says:

            Laurah, I am sorry my response took so long. The beginning of the school year and the start of my masters had me treading water for the last two weeks.

            Sometimes agreeing to disagree is a good plan. I think it is important to know that is an option when we discuss things. We all want to be “right” but that is often not the best way to go about things. I am saying that to remind myself more than anything :)

            I really appreciate the kind words. I do try hard to share what is happening in my room as well as question why we are doing things. The bottom line with my TpT post is I know I hurt some feelings. It wasn’t my intent but I know it happened and all I can do is continue to be honest and try to show that I truly was trying to help instead of hurt. It might be a long process for some to believe me but I am willing to keep trying. I am hoping to spend time in the sellers forum to get to know people and continue to grow as an educator. At this point I have no intention of selling but I don’t have an “agenda” of stirring the pot on forum.

            I hope the beginning of the school year is treating you well and I look forward to learning with you.

  161. heatherstec says:

    I am a seller on TPT, but I do agree with you about the cute factor. I can appreciate that design has significant value, for adults and children. However, when it’s “cuteness for cuteness sake” I have concerns with that. I include pictures and clip art in my work, but I try to include it only if it’s directly related to the product. One trend I find puzzling is keying vocabulary words with pictures that have nothing to do with the word. For example, a set of apples with a different sight word on each apple. Some teachers may have great success with it, but I am worried about confusing my students so I haven’t tried it myself. Many people take issue with the idea of teachers selling as opposed to sharing. Every seller on TPT has free resources. It’s a requirement that your first item be free before posting products for sale. Every teacher I have seen has many more than one free item. I would also ask what other profession has the expectation that everyone should “share and share alike” when it comes to planning and work. I don’t think teachers should be actively selling during teaching of course, but designing lesson plans for their classes are usually built into planning time.

  162. Jen M (speech) says:

    Hello Matt, just ran across this article and I really agree with a lot of the problems you pointed out!

    I’m a speech teacher for students in self-contained classrooms, and I have been using TPT a lot in the past few months as the most reliable source of good-quality materials. I do dislike the fact that a huge percentage of the materials on the side are based on “cutesy” clip art graphics. It seems like the graphics content on the site primarily is the same “cutesy” clip art style, and the same clip art sources get reused over and over again by different people. I agree with you that I would much rather see high-quality photos used since photographs are a more useful teaching tool when dealing with autism and other significant learning disabilities, plus they do not limit the activity to elementary-school aged kids. The middle-school kids I work with don’t notice/care that the activity is designed for elementary schoolers, but in the future if I am working with more general-ed students, many of the speech-language activities with appropriate content and difficulty levels are going to be too patronizing for middle schoolers in general ed or learning resource classrooms.

    One of the problems that speech teachers face is that there are very few good materials outside of published workbooks. There are a few speech-language sites where users can post self-created speech materials, but generally, the quality is very variable. Pretty often, there are errors in spelling or graphic layout that occurred because the poster didn’t really care about proofchecking the file before uploading it (that’s one thing that I really appreciate about TPT, that even the free materials are high-quality because the creator wants you to think their materials are worth spending money on!). Some free speech materials are so hyper-specific to the student or group they were designed to teach for that they are useless to most speech pathologists. Lastly, and this is my biggest pet peeve, almost all of the visual images are based off of programs such as Boardmaker and Symbolstix, whose clip art images have very little in common with real life objects! Sorry Mayer-Johnson, every time I see an icon that shows people with peach-colored egg-shaped heads, I cry a little on the inside. So, even though I sigh each time I see cutesy clip art on at TPT project, I think to myself “at least it isn’t boardmaker”

    The “laminating culture” that you referred to is actually something that I really needed to learn about…and I needed to learn how to do it! Speech pathology graduate school taught us very well how to create individualized materials for our students. What speech pathology graduate school did NOT teach us was that when you are providing speech therapy full-time, creating individualized materials is not a good way to budget your time. I spent far time creating and laminating self-created things (that quite honestly did not have much application beyond the specific student or current theme) than I spent actually using the item. It took me a few months to figure out that I would be much better off spending my money to buy materials from other sources that were more creative and more practical than I could have ever done on my own. Wish I could go back to grad school and save myself hours of coming through articulation word lists and google image pages to create an activity that I used twice and threw away :/
    My thought is just to use your best judgement to decide if the activity is right for your current group of students, and to build up enough variety in your materials to be able to switch in something more appropriate.

    I think you need to start a revolution from the inside! Start posting some materials on the site using high-quality photographs and shake up those people stuck on clip art!! (and put some stuff for that us speechies can use too!)

  163. Cindy says:


    I am a seller on TPT and I should say that I love it and see no issues with buying or selling teaching material. Unless you make it yourself, you have to get it somewhere, either a publishing company or….perhaps TPT. The best thing about TPT is that the material has been used by the teachers who created it and, in theory at least, has been successful. I only put products on that I use frequently and with success. Of course one must individualize, but that is a constant and is necessary even when you make your own materials. I am always adapting and reworking my own activities…often DURING the lesson. That just goes without saying. RE: cuteness…well, I can see how it can be over done, but lets not forget that these kids are …kids, and maybe they like a little cuteness…depending on their age of course. Certainly, I think kindergarteners deserve a little cuteness. RE: Jen M (speech), I hear you about the need for material that is less cutsie for the older kids. I am trying to keep that in mind as I create. I always use at least two sets of cards for my activities, one for k-2 kids, and one for 3-5th grade kids, roughly…Often, my 4th and 5th graders use materials that have no pictures, just words. Basically, it comes back to individualizing…youve got to give them what they want and need. I am not a slp but I teach social pragmatics, social skills and thinking. I write all of the curriculum for my 60 students on my case load and for the slp’s that run the second group (I run the first). I am trying to get away from the Boardmaker pictures, though I still use some. That generally leaves you with clip art which is mostly cutesy. I have, however, recently found someone named Rebekah Brock who makes great clip art kids that are not cutsie. They are more real life looking. I have asked her to make a social set and she did! It’s awesome and I am using it in all of my work. It has kids yelling at each other, ignoring, pushing, teasing, talking, sharing…it’s just great. I use some real life pictures, but…research has shown that kids with Autism actually do better with non-realistic pics because they get caught up in the details in the real photos. Black and white line drawings are considered the best. My kids are generally high functioning aspy kids so they do fine with the clip art pics. So…some of us out there who still like cute, are trying to go less cutsey…:)

  164. Noelle says:

    Hello all,
    I appreciate your comments. But I feel that cute is not over rated in the classroom. I think of a place like Disneyland (I know, it’s a stretch). But Disney is successful because it creates an experience for it’s guests. It invites people to enter a world and interact with that world. We have an opportunity to engage students through the classroom. Now, in doing this we should be thoughtful and deliberate with our design. I am 31 years old and I still remember my kindergarten classroom because that teacher made it a special place. Each activity we did was SPECIAL and in that classroom I felt that we were experiencing something. The teacher was the most important element, but the classroom enhanced that experience.
    I have taught middle/high school for the last 7 years and students, parents, administrators always appreciate the fact that I take the time to enhance my classroom. So often we forget that even older students want to experience something in the classroom. Having a “cute” classroom gives them the expectation that they will. Teachers must deliver on this expectation though.
    That is not to say that students can’t have an experience without the frippery. But believe it or not, it helps.
    As far as the main topic of TeachersPayTeachers. I think it’s a great website that provides resources for those of us who just don’t have the time to create them. When I go to the website, I usually know what I want to buy. I don’t have the time to make a quality resources, so I just buy it. I want my students to have quality. They need to feel that I think about those things and I want that for them. The devil is in the details. Teacherspayteacher allows me to have the details at a price and while supporting a fellow educator.

    This is a really great conversation and I’m so glad you shared.

  165. Kerrie says:

    I love TPT because I can sell my knowledge to others who need it. No one is forcing people to buy the products, but there is a huge need to have a database of available products. Even if there was a “free site” that housed the database, someone is either making money off of it or if it is college then they are using it as a marketing tool. The money is a great reward for people who value being paid for their knowledge. I being one of them. I have known way too many educators who mooch off of other people to complete their lesson plans or for ideas. Those teachers can pay for my lessons instead of me doing the work for them. I didn’t go into education for the money, but I can certainly sell my products to supplement my income.

    P.S. the “cutesie” clipart screams “look at the clipart and not the content” to me. Just give me the nuts and bolts.

  166. Cristi says:

    Wow. For someone who does not like “black and white,” you seem pretty rigid, especially for one who teaches kindergarten. It saddens me. I don’t think it’s a secret that children learn better when the teaching and learning is fun. It keeps them engaged. I see nothing wrong with combining your real image clip art and cute, polka dot, cartoon critter images. It’s called creativity. The best teachers that my four children have had are the ones who made learning fun. Who were creative and taught using animation or clip art that their students enjoyed outside of school. Our teachers are overworked and extremely underpaid. Where I live, the elementary teachers begin working on their classroom 2 to WEEKS before they are return to school…on their own time…without pay. I see nothing wrong with using premade packets or ideas for reaching their students. Nor do I think that everything used to teach should be prepackaged. You said the teacher should teach to meet the needs of their students. Who said they aren’t? I’m curious how many different schools and/or cities that you have taught in your career. Our children have so much access to colorful, flashing and exciting computer games. Your real image clip art would not compare to the excitement they are accustomed to. And please, don’t jump up and blame their parents for allowing them to play these games. You ARE black and white. You ARE attacking and judging others who do not see this as you do. If you did, you would have no reason to publish this article. I’m so happy my children have not had teachers like you in early education.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Cristi, I am sorry you feel that way about me from one post. I stated my concerns based on my experiences, nothing more. I never claimed to be all knowing and certainly have never called anyone out for their thinking. I hope your kids continue to get teachers like me … those that are passionate, knowledgeable and reflective about their job. I wish you would take a little stroll on my blog and learn more about me…

  167. Suzanne says:

    Wow – your article really got me thinking – both while I was reading it and after as well. What I take away from it is that the issue isn’t really with TPT, but rather with teachers who take canned “ideas” and “lessons” and attempt to apply them to every student in his/her classroom. This, unfortunately, reaches far beyond TPT. It can be said of any resource a teacher finds, buys or is given by their district. I think the point you make is vital – no one thing works for every student. That being said – I do enjoy finding things on TPT that I can use as a jumping off point or adapt to fit the needs of my students.

  168. Denise says:

    Some cuteness is OK, because that is what draws my eye to the unit in the first place.. I do not need fancy borders or large pictures because when they are printed… even on draft they ” drink up” lots of ink. I do like math games and other things to be colorful and somewhat cute, because it does add excitement to the boring materials provided in math workbooks and other materials.

  169. Denise says:

    Matt, I can’t believe I’m wasting a second of my valuable time to reply to this but I think you should keep your opinions to yourself unless you have something helpful to offer your fellow teacher like the teachers on TPT. No one really cares whether you like TPT or not!!

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Denise, maybe (just maybe) you should read your post to yourself and reflect. As I have said to all the other negative commenters I am glad you don’t represent the typical TpT supporter. I hope you are just having a bad day and I wish you a great year.

  170. You raise some valid points. To each… his own.

  171. Lydia says:

    Hi Matt,
    I teach first/second grade. I teach Bible, penmanship, math, phonics, reading, health, art, history, science, music, computer, and spelling. I am blessed to be able to do this. Teaching is a ministry to me. I love what I do. I try to find what will best help each student. They are a great class. Lydia

  172. Deborah says:

    Way to go! So glad you shared- I totally agree with you – You are a man- you should be a man in teaching Kindergarten- HOw lucky those kids are to have a male teacher and how lucky the parents are to have you with their children everyday. If you don’t want cute- that is awesome! The kids con’t need cute either- they need someone who loves them and is encouraging them to do their best. If I saw you today, I would give you a huge thumbs up! Don’t ever change!

  173. Miss V says:

    Matt, I am getting to the party a bit late, but have enjoyed reading and considering the points of view presented in all the posts. Thank you for your post and expressing what many of my colleagues have voiced. I am from the “old school” where teachers shared ideas, materials, resources, and “lesson successes” with one another for free. You didn’t mention money so sorry to digress — as many so eloquently voiced that the children, making connections, sharing, collaboration, and good teaching practices are key. However, I wonder how many of the teachers purchasing the products consider the cost? Product + paper (few as 2 as many as 150 pages), + colored ink + lamination = $$–perhaps they are lucky enough to have permission to use the school’s resources. Thanks again for an inspiring and thought provoking post!

  174. lex6819 says:

    Women (in general!) like products to be visually attractive. Internet marketers (whether they are marketing business services to marketing professionals, or classroom materials for teachers) know and understand this basic tenet. If it’s ugly, it won’t sell to a female audience. (Or at least, it won’t sell as *well*). Anyone selling infoproducts online – to teachers or otherwise – had better make their products as good-looking as possible, or women are very unlikely to whip out their credit cards. Wendy Stevens’ “Guerilla Marketing to Women” podcast is a good resource. The fact is: students aren’t the ones purchasing these resources. Teachers are. And… the majority of teachers are women. Fact of life. I agree with you about the uneditable PDF’s, however. I have a TpT store, and the only items I sell as PDF’s are the cookbooks or pre-designed printable cards and labels. That type of thing. All my worksheets and exercises are in Word DOC or Open Office Writer formats, and can be edited, shortened, redecorated, whatever. I’m not a classroom teacher anymore, but I still feel I have something to contribute, and TpT offers me the opportunity to share what I know, with others who might or might not use it, and earn a (small) income as well. Such a boon in this economy!

  175. lex6819 says:

    Edit to my previous comment: some of my worksheets are in PDF format, because it’s more universal than Word or Open Office. Some teachers have Word for Windows, others use a Mac, others use open source software like Open Office or Libre Office. I create PDF’s that are NOT password protected or locked. They can open in almost any version of Adobe Reader software. Teachers can then edit the document in Adobe, or copy and paste the content of the PDF into any text editor or word processing software they like. Most people use PDF’s because almost any kind of PC has a version of Adobe Reader. It’s unlikely that a DOCX I can make in Microsoft Word 2010 will be easily editable by a teacher who uses an older version of Word on an older Windows operating system. PDF is a shortcut, which lets me distribute documents to a wider audience. I don’t (personally) have the money to go out and buy every version of every word processing software that’s out there. I’ve had very few people report they are unable to open my PDF’s, and the one or two times someone asked, I told them to update their Adobe Reader, and that fixed it. Adobe Reader is free, any anyone can download it to any kind of operating system (mostly).

  176. JephC says:

    I find, like most things, it all depends on what you’re looking for. I know I feel similar in some ways…anything that’s simply a PDF page is something I tend to avoid. I do sell a few items on here (and the most I feel I should sell for is $5.00..I’m here to help, not get rich), and I prefer to use SMARTBoard materials for these. I also try to include a page on how to adjust it for yourself as well, because, as you said, different things for different people. And SMARTBoard projects are normally easy to change things around. Basically, I like the idea of a template that’s able to be altered for teachers to meet their needs.
    But of course, one of the joys of teaching is seeing the differences in thoughts, personalities, and levels of interest out there! I may not fully agree, but it’s a well written piece!

  177. flying in the dark says:

    Raised some interesting points that I will add to the possible cons of using this application for the assignment I am doing for a class (for future teachers). Still think that making something more festive is not a bad thing though, but you are right in that some teachers go too far in the lower grades to get cute.

  178. I am an 8th grade science teacher… my students are very design oriented and are drawn to strong graphics etc. I don’t have a cutesy room by any means (we are talking middle school here) but I find my students truly do engage more when they are interested in what they are looking at. If they feel that it is something outside of the ordinary and perhaps maybe even a little flashy they will actually follow me into the subject a little bit, long enough for me to hook them in and help them become interested in the ultimate content… just a thought. ps. teacher pay teachers has been an ace in the hole for me (only a buyer not a contributor) and I have had no problem altering the curriculum pieces I buy in order to more fully serve my population

  179. Annie B says:

    Hi Matt, I have been a primary teacher for 25 years. I am also a writer, graphic artist and photographer — together with teaching, they are gifts I use daily in my first job as a teacher. I recently was encouraged by my teammates to look into TPT. I have written my entire career and shared everything freely — still do. Now I have a great opportunity to build a business, too. I am so thankful I have a venue for using my other gifts, and to share with others, and to also have resources from others. Just because you’re a teacher, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have opportunities for success in something else.
    Many of your points are your personal preferences, which you have every right to own. The beauty of teaching is not only the sharing of ideas, but also celebrating your individual differences. It’s nice to know we have choices, and can
    be who we are for our students!

    • Matt Gomez says:

      I appreciate your respectful comments Annie. You will notice I did not mention the selling or money aspect in my post. I have never had issues with people making money or selling. Thanks for reading! Also I love photography :)

  180. eliza says:

    Not quite sure how I ended up on your blog, but I feel compelled to comment. My partner teacher and I began selling our original work on TpT about 9 months ago. For years, we’ve attended conferences and workshops where our fellow professionals have been impressed by the reports, lessons, iPad resources, activities and games we have created for use in our own instruction and reporting. We have willingly shared (and still do) our materials with colleagues, with no expectation of compensation. TpT, however, provides the widest venue for disseminating our work. We consider it a public service. Our fees are nominal, and basically cover the time we spend outside of school to prepare materials for posting on TpT. There are no polka dots or owls involved. No chevron either. Just the combined efforts of two pretty smart people who spent a lot of hours developing various resources
    . So you can spend those same hours developing your own resource, or you can spend a couple of bucks for ours. Build your own tire, or buy one from Goodrich. Put your time and energy where it will matter most, and don’t reinvent the wheel.

  181. Just as “cute” is seen as a typical female world-view, so is “working for free” or “being under-paid” or “under-valuing one’s own work.” Criticizing a teacher for making money from her/his efforts is absurd and would never be thought or spoken in a male-dominated profession. Ever. We women need to get over this. “Profit” is not a dirty word.

  182. Deanna says:

    As a new teacher I value those who have created activities I could choose to use in my classroom. I know it takes hours to create an activity and if I could pay a small fee so that I don’t have to then I will gladly pay.

  183. lemongarlic says:

    I loved your post, because I thought I was the only one who had a disdain towards TPT. Yes, I have used some free items from TPT in the past. They are now tucked away in a drawer. I would NEVER pay for another teacher’s work. Most of the activities seem to be worksheets converted into task cards. I actually recognized some items that used to be posted for free on old sites. Many activities are oldies that are made pretty and there are so many duplicates of the same activities. I have found that there is very little higher order thinking or syntheszing type of work. There are so many sites with free resources such as teach engineering or k-5 math resources, and even the National Security Agency has fantastic peformance math activities. I know many teachers use TPT. The bottom line is that is a business – nothing more, nothing less.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      I am actually going to disagree with you some. Money has never been my issue with TpT and I wish we could look past that aspect. Everyone should be willing to pay money for quality products that help teachers. The key is finding those quality products and not being distracted by the “pretty” as you describe it. One of my main concerns was helping teachers with exactly that aspect of the site and also encouraging teachers to try to make/modify things before buying.

      TpT is a business but the site itself is more than that. They have created a great network of educators that support each other and there is value in that. I still think more can be done to make the community more willing to accept constructive criticism but overall I think the space is a benefit for teachers. I have the same concerns I originally shared but I never intended to make people think it is a negative place. TpT is not bad and it is also not the answer for the perfect classroom. It falls somewhere in-between and my hope is teachers will be thoughtful when using the resources there. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  184. TPT is a great site. It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ if you use it properly. If there is something that someone else has taken the trouble to put together that serves even a couple of my kids and it’s not too expensive, then I’m happy to pay for it. I agree that the decorations can be a bit too much at times, but that’s when it pays to ‘shop around’ within the site. PDF files can be easily converted into a Word Document with a relatively inexpensive converter through Adobe itself. I’ve used this many times to adapt things that I’ve purchase to better suit my needs and the needs of my kids. Great blog by the way :)

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Lynn, thanks for the comment! My concern with the PDF convertor is about the user agreement. Do sellers allow for modifications? Maybe some sellers and frequent users can chime in on that.

  185. Lori says:

    I couldn’t agree more – the only things that are laminated in my classroom are the Pledge of Allegiance and the Texas Pledge…everything else is made over each year based on what the students need. After all, it is not MY classroom – it is THEIRS.

  186. Autumn says:

    I’m a speech-language pathologist and I sell products on TPT. I agree that cute is overrated. Most of my products are not cute, because I don’t make things for the express purposes of selling them. Most of my products were things that I made for my students over the years and decided to post. Many of the things I sell, are things to make an SLPs life simpler (like data sheets, referral forms, etc.). These things do not have to be tailored to fit one student or one group of students. I can see your points though. In my field, were are all about specialization and individualization. However, I do think there is value in products from teacherspayteachers. I have only purchased 3 things from the site, but I am happy with my purchases. Because my field encompasses such a wide range of communication issues and ability levels, I don’t own everything I need to treat everything I may encounter. I also don’t have the money to buy a book or unit from larger publisher every time I think I need a new resource. My biggest asset is time. If someone can save me time by creating a material that I deem appropriate for my students, I’m happy about it.

  187. Maggie says:

    I have just started selling on TPT and have made sure to allow people to edit the documents they buy. Everything I create I use my students- since they are definitely more interested if I use them, their other teachers or their school in the questions themselves. I also put them in outrageous situations, like pushing yaks up mountains or riding goats they find in their school hallway. It’d be crazy for me not to let other teachers edit this stuff since I’m pretty sure not every teacher has a “Sabina” or a “Jacob” in their classrooms. I also try to make the descriptions as clear as possible- stating exactly why I created the document and what can be found in it. Straight forward, normal fonts with bolded words.

    I leave the fancy lettering, images and whatnot to my classroom. And I have to disagree with Lori- I always tell the students that it’s MY classroom and that if they follow the policies and procedures, I’ll share my classroom with them, and then it becomes theirs. But then again, I teach middle school and I’m very protective of my personal space and am compelled to teach them to respect others and their property.

  188. Kristin says:

    Somehow I stumbled onto this blog post during one of my never ending search trains .. Oh I love how the internet just sucks you down into more and more layers lol!
    I just wanted to chime in that I’ve been a K-8 art educator for over 12 years and without the internet I would have been burnt out from the end of year 2! With no text books or other art teachers in my school to bounce ideas off of I have been on my own to create lessons. People sharing online has been saving grace for me and because of this I now blog and have a ‘store’ on TpT. However, I believe in everything being 100% free. Teachers like artists should be open to sharing their world and take pride in others adapting, or sharing thoughts. I guess it’s karma for me – I got so I give.
    Thanks for starting an interesting debate :)

  189. Missy says:

    This is a very interesting post, and I actually agree with everything you said. This is my first year teaching (grade 2) and I’m all over the internet trying to find ideas on anything and everything to do with teaching 2nd grade. I’m not a “one size fits all” type of person so I know some of the things I use this year may not neccesarily work next year. I’m just excited to be teaching and I find it interesting to see all the cool ideas out there. This is definately some food for thought!

  190. Weth2 says:

    I agree that “cuteness” is not necessary in a classroom, but I do think that the more effort a teacher puts into making lessons is recognized by the students. I teach preschool and all of kids at one point or another have made comments about how “cute” or “nice” the things I do for them are. Since then, all of my kids have put more hard work into the things they are doing. Also, many of your children are visual learners, you can’t expect to reach that targeted audience if you don’t make lessons visually interesting for them. One method to make things more interesting for kids is using color, pictures, and patterns. Making something cute is often more than just making a nice front for parents and administrators. (I also agree that if I am going to spend 10 months in a room…I want it to be a cheerful place).

    I would also like to say where some of these lessons may not be a good fit for all classrooms, it does not mean it is wrong for all classrooms either. YOU can buy a lesson and NOT implement it in the exact same way someone else did. TPT is nothing more than a resource. I doubt it was created to take the place of teachers creating their own lessons.

  191. I don’t want to beat a dead horse but I don’t have time to read through ALL your responses. That being said, I apologize in advance if what I say is redundant. However, I have some thoughts on this topic I would like to share.

    One of the things I enjoy about being a teacher is I get to work with a group of people who (usually) have the same desires for wanting to help make a difference.I have also found that not only do we have similar out looks on life but we share the same passions and hobbies out side of school. Reading or being in a book club is one example. Another example is being creative, crafty and finding joy making things.

    When I started teaching in the 90’s scrapbooking was at it’s peek! Women everywhere were getting together to cut and paste! Many teachers were in the throngs! We were in heaven! Well, as life goes on and gets busier and more hectic we often find ourselves trying to find the balance between being a teacher, a wife, a mother, a friend, a neighbor…etc…all the hats we wear! In the midst of all of this our personal interests and hobbies get cast to the side, soon left neglected, gathering dust.

    Then, along comes something like TPT! Now we have the opportunity to combine two of our biggest passions! Teaching AND being creative!

    I work as an interventionist in math and reading, Title 1 1st – 5th grade. I use a wonderful reading program through Houghtin Mifflin. However, the materials do not always meet all the needs of my students. Yes, even in a group of 6 I still have a diversity of learning styles and issues to work with. Now, with the expectations of common core (Idaho, where I live, just adopted it) I feel I need to help my students make connections with the things they are learning in their classroom and what I am working with them on. In a small group setting I am able to get them to focus (there’s no opportunity to day dream when your teacher is just an arms length away!) and I feel if I use differentiated teaching I can reach their needs. Well….finding materials to meet their needs is not as easy as opening a teacher’s manual. I have been so grateful for the teacher’s who put the things that work for them, things that have been tried, tested and proven to be effective in a classroom setting, online for people like me who need them!

    I know YOU don’t ;have an issue with the money. But I do want to say to those who do….or actually ask them….Do you expect to go to the dentist and have a cavity filled, just because he already has the equipment so you shouldn’t have to pay him for it? Or why would you have to pay for your prescription medication since someone has already developed it? Should they just give it to you free? Or the farmer who plowed, planted and harvested the food you eat? Or the artist who painted that beautiful portrait hanging in your entry way?

    I could go on and on but I think I’ve made my point. I just opened my tpt store and whenever I can I will most definitely offer free products. But if I can help subsidize my time and effort I will be very delighted! I am not going into it wanting to get rich or make a ton money! I will keep my prices at a bare minimum. I want to be able to help another teacher who doesn’t have 2-3hrs to adapt materials so a $1 or $2 is very much worth it to her!

    Yes, I will have some cute things! I’m a pink and bling kinda gal! But its not about the “fluff.
    ‘ I can teach in black and white, I can teach on a chalk board, I can draw stick figures with crayons in front of the kids. But ya know, once in a while a little technicolor just spices up your day and makes you smile!

    Oh and by the way….I wanted to say, even though I don’t know you (nor have I ever read your blog) I am very happy to hear you are a teacher and you love your job and are looking out for the best interest of the kids, because at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about! See, we have something in common even if its not pink with bling! :)

  192. Marijean B says:

    Wow! I couldn’t believe how long it took me to get to the end to reply! I have been teaching kdg 24 years, spent many hours making activities. Matt I am with u the cuteness is overrated. Sometimes misunderstood, yes I have had to ask the children what they thought the pic was and we would go with the majority (teachable moment (voting)) the pic. was soo cute couldn’t figure out what the manufacturer was trying to portray. I love science so i started using “real” pics, Another comment: Districts changed textbooks series every 5 years, there I was again making new activities to correspond with the new series. I was so excited, had cute stuff, spent lots of money. Well our school was closed and I had to box up all my activities for the move. Needless to say I started to purge, it takes hours b/c I can’t throw away something I might use (2years later) I am still purging AND we r in the process of once again changing “everything”. Where does it end!?! One last comment: a few years ago (approx 5) I made the mistake of asking my class What did ur parents do with the ———- that we made. At least 1/2 the class (not exaggerating) said “threw it away”. I was crushed now maybe my activities were not “cute” I have no clue the parents reason/s. I thought about sending a “survey” bit did I want to be crushed again. So I let it go. Take what u want from this or don’t BUT I was hired to teach. Yes I feel guilty for not doing activities, I do miss thecutenes and fun times BUT I am not exhausted and I do have a Lil extra money. Also I get my satisfaction from the “awha” on the child’s face and I know that he/she’s favorite animal is a giraffe!!! Thank you for letting me know I am not alone

  193. Leonie says:

    I’ve been teaching for over 25 years. I have had the opportunity during this time to see the pendulum swing back and forth many times. This is in reference to both curriculum and the structure of classrooms. I’ve worked with many people that have since retired and with brand new teachers out of college. The “Cuteness” in a classroom in my experience has never been about impressing other teachers etc…. It has very much been a personal choice based on what a teacher likes to see. Each and every classroom in my building is different. I’ve used many activities from TPT to supplement ideas and units that I already have. For me, it is just about variety and different approaches to a skill. I find that the prices are very reasonable. As teachers, we are often spending out of pocket. Most activities purchased from any other educational site/store would be much more than this. I spend enough of my time during the summer and school year with units lesson plans. The amount for many of these items is worth the time that I save not creating them myself. After all, teaching has always been about collaboration and the sharing of great ideas!!!

  194. Interesting Read Matt, although I didn’t read all the replies. I gather though that it seems you don’t really have a problem with the concept of TpT, but rather the content on TpT. I will have to agree with you there. I find most of it rather dull and poorly produced. Obviously some put a huge effort into it, but mainly in the cuteness department. The PowerPoints are simply, woeful, which is a shame because I have seen some truly amazing education Powerpoints using (real graphics) and animations that serve a purpose, rather than just as bling.

    I agree PDFs are disappointing as there is no excuse for not having an editable form in Word (.docx). Most word processors can open .docx so universal access is not an issue. If not, do yourself a favour and get with the times.

    One thing that puzzles me is the dominance of early schooling on TpT. Why is that? Are K,1,2,3,4 teachers not skilled at producing thee own stuff? It seems simple enough compared to a complex Y12 Physics PowerPoint simulation. Any thoughts?

  195. LGartung says:

    I am a TpT seller, but not a very successful one, and for the very reasons stated earlier. I don’t know how many of us are on TpT, but as a special education teacher, I refuse to add a lot of “foo-foo” to my materials. 1) It’s too distracting to all my special ADHD students out there. 2) It’s not needed to teach the concept. I just saw a task card set for multiplication. All it was, was a set of about 10 2-digit multiplication problems w/ cute snow motifs. Really, I could come up w/ multiplication probs for FREE. 3) I think there’s a disconnect among teachers throughout the country in terms of resource availability. I, for one, do not have access to a color printer at school. I think there is one in the library, but then pray it has enough ink to print out anything in color. So why would I buy some “colorful” greatly designed if I can’t print it out? Am I in the only school district w/ this problem w/ not enough resources? I take in to account not everyone has access to a color printer when I create my materials. Unfortunately, most sellers on TpT don’t. I do have some material in color, but I try not to make any worksheet/ center material in color b/c I know the budget constraints many school districts have out there. So that being said, I just wanted to let people know that not all sellers on TpT follow the Martha Stewart/ Mary Englebert/ Queer Eye philosophy that everything has to be decorated/ blinged/ jazzed up to be an effective product. My favorite products to create are simple open-ended material that I can offer to teachers and say “here, see what you can come up with to use this in your classroom”. Unfortunately, most of the TpT buyers seem to be of the “Spoon feed me everything I need to know to use this b/c I don’t have a creative thought of my own” mentality. I mean, I was in a meeting w/ the third grade teachers, talking about ideas to teach about Ancient Greece. I brought up connecting it to literature by using the Magic Tree House books. I swear, the teachers looked at me like “what?!?” and one even asked, “What’s that, is that like the Magic School Bus?”.
    But I will continue to fight the “cuteness” trend, please take heart there’s more teachers like me out there that believe in teaching the student, and not impressing everyone else. I may not sell a lot, but at least I’ll have good, useful material for my own students.
    Laura Gartung, TeachGartung, K.I.S.S. Publications

  196. Kerry says:

    Gosh, I came across this post and have been working my way through a lot of replies. It is a hot topic! I really appreciate the idea of using real images but they might be hard to buy the licence for. I also agree that sometimes the colourful clipart seems superfluous and distracting. I love the concept of TPT. I have bought a couple of things (cherry picking) but do spend a lot of time making my own after getting ideas from them.
    Please don’t diss Pinterest. It is an absolutely fantastic network of all kinds of people and I love the whole idea of it. It has something for everyone and is evolving into a great sharing network.
    One thing I have found a bit annoying, are the amount of blogs that have very little content except to direct you to the owners TPT site or that shove Amazon down your throat (advertising). Blogging should be more than just a way of making revenu, don’t you think?

  197. Don says:

    Methinks you might be over analyzing the idea a bit too much; to each their own. If you don’t like TPT, you’re welcome to avoid it.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Don, I would rather overanalyze things than not analyze at all. I do avoid the site and despite that I have found MANY of the contributors on TpT to be be amazing educators. I am hopeful that respectful pushback will be more appreciated in the future from all teachers.

  198. Anita says:

    I think that teaching is a way to bless others. However I think teachers are being taken advantage of especially with the common core. I find that more teachers are becoming ill. They are giving so much time to the enormous work load that cannot fit into the year and sacrificing their family. With the work that I see teachers doing each teacher should have their own secretary. I am not a fan of buying work from other teachers. I can barely pay my bills. I will not however put any teacher down. I commend every teacher. Those who are not doing right by their students will carry that guilt. I also think teachers need to step back a little. Have you noticed how everything has become the teachers fault. Nobody hardly mentions the parents. Maybe im venting but I do know that teaching was better in every way when I started 16 years ago. It would be hard for me to recommend someone to become a teacher now. The respect for teaching has disappeared. God bless all of you who give your heart to this profession.

  199. juanda says:

    Just use what you think is good for you and your classroom. Teachers get resources from all kinds of places.

  200. Sarah says:

    Ok I know people keep mentioning the money thing, so I am not going to talk about that except to agree with Juanda. Especially as a special education teacher, I need many different resources and tend to use whatever resources that apply to my students as I can find. This sometimes means sifting through a lot of different materials. I do this for three reasons. One, I get some fabulous ideas and change them a bit to fit my needs. Two, I can get a variety of ways to present information to my students who need help with generalization and retaining information. Finally, I have to plan for 3 very different groups in a day which means I have to create 18 very different lessons in one day. So I need as many resources as I can get.

    I have taught the gamete of ages from pre-k to 5th grade and I will say there is a time when the students will say, “this is too cute for me.” We as self-contained teachers do not get much in the way as curriculum and have often had to use books at our students learning level not their age level. My pre-k students and kindergarteners have never complained about the cute stuff but my older students did complain. So I don’t think it’s either bad nor great to use the cute stuff in kindergarten. I use both real and animated pictures and my classroom is loaded because I have many non-verbal or low language students. I choose both because my students see both in the real world and since they sometimes get real and fantasy confused, I like to have both around so I can show them the difference. Also, you can’t say kindergarteners don’t like cartoons. My second grade girls love cute! But my students also love non-fiction and the best part about having both is when they see a cartoon one now, they ask me to show them the real one. So we head to the computer and research the real animal. Then I put the real next to the cartoon. Like you said, I’ve never heard any complaints about either. They don’t ask me to take the cute or the real down. They like both.

    I am like Matt when it comes to teaching to my students. My students are very different year to year. I have to recreate lessons to fit my students every year. But beyond that I also don’t want to be that teacher that gets caught in a rut. It’s nice to have lessons all planned out a year a head of time (I drool over the thought) but Matt is right. No one person is exactly the same which means no one classroom is exactly the same. Just food for thought.

  201. Kazue says:

    I hate to say it, but you’re right. I create my own stuff. Sure, it may not look cute, but it does what it is supposed to do. I am artsy not into cutesy stuff. I refuse to buy borders for my bulletin boards. I create my own bulletin boards. All you need is an imagination. You can still have nice, pleasant, clean, organized room without all that cute stuff. Spending your own money on things like desk plates, cute worksheets, is not for me. I rather spend the money on my family. And btw, I think all that cutesy stuff is all for show….good for you if you have the time, energy and money to put that stuff into your room….if it makes your life easier, great…..

  202. Stephanie C. says:

    I think you makes some really great points, and I think some of the comments make great points too. Your post inspired me to write about it on my blog. If you’re interested in all of my thoughts, you can check it out here:

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Stephanie, I appreciate you taking the time to post your views in a thoughtful and reflective way! You are correct, my main point was for us all to think. To be intentional in what we do every day and to always keep the focus on the kids. Great post even if you are on Team Cute :)

  203. Marie says:

    “…kids don’t need polka dots, owls, and bubbly fonts to have fun and learn. I would go as far to say they don’t even notice. I have never had a kid tell me great job on the design of my handout or activity.” — This is actually a very good point. There is certainly a place for “unrealistic/comic/cartoon/etc.” illustrations, but a child’s world should not be flooded with unrealistic images, as these images do not represent the “real” world/interactive environment around them. Children do not have conversations with cute animals or talking plants. If we used more “realistic” (the reason for the ” ” is that even moderately detailed good art (or photos) can convey a more realistic situation or attitude among the characters) illustrations, we present an added dimension to the teaching/learning experience. I still remember the Dick and Jane books/stories – great illustrations that complemented the lesson/story. We could be encouraging character building as we teach – and this truly isn’t possible via silly cartoon characters. In the older textbooks (through 1980ish???) one could perceive the true interactions of the characters – they were real! THESE are illustrations that kids DO “notice” ! Again, occasional use of unreal characters is okay, but “unrealistic” illustrations lead to filling the mental vacuum with the very opposite of what could be very valuable information. There should be a balance. Why would we wish for ANY part of our lesson to be insignificant or invaluable? Occasional use of cartoons is okay – but we can NEVER go wrong in providing our students illustrations which better reinforce the lessons. I am a new member of TpT and I do use some “unrealistic” illustrations in my work. The products I have viewed seem as if to be very helpful and I imagine that I will make some purchases.

  204. Shannon says:

    I think it is very sad if teachers feel pressured to put things up on the wall just to look cute. That is not the case at my school. Items are put up in the classroom for there educational value and if it happens to be visually engaging that is a bonus. There should be a fine balance between having a classroom that is fun for children to come to everyday and a room that is over stimulating and distracting. I think TPT is a wonderful site where teachers can go to purchase what they need to supplement their curriculum or use it to gain new ideas. I am a special education teacher and everything I do for kids is individualized. I am smart enough to download an activity for The Grouchy Ladybug off of TPT and modify it as I need to. Why is this site any more “canned” than using the same lesson plan from a book over and over again? There are going to be the teachers who always stay fresh and new and interesting and those teachers who do what is minimally required. TPT won’t change that. I would also like to see teachers benefit financially versus large corporations. Additionally, there are many free items on the site.

  205. Shana says:

    I have enjoyed scanning through all of the responses to your post.. On of the things I think we(professional educators) should all remember, anyone can access any of the sites mentioned, but we (hopefully) are not the ones just down loading and using as our ONLY instructional resource. Any “professional educator” knows that multiple resources are ALWAYS best. Sites Like TPT are just place where many old ideas have just been jazzed up to be more appealing to those who like “cute”… Some students respond to cute, some don’t.
    I agreed with many of your points Matt and I think that is why I browse, download what i like, skip what I don’t and get ideas for my own stuff :)

  206. John Orsborn says:

    I am late on this topic but….I am a first year 1st grade teacher that just needed ideas to create my own stuff. I don’t care about the cute, or the bright, but I do care about the content. I hate to have to pay to see something so I can get an idea of what I need to do to build a good unit or lesson. I am grateful that I work with people that are willing to share everything, but sometimes you just need to see something that is new. $3 and $5 here and there for a peek add up fast. I understand the concept, but I don’t agree with it.

  207. Ella says:

    I think that you are overgeneralizing TpT based on your grade level. I haven’t found that to be as true at the secondary level. TpT can be a great place to get labs and hands-on-activities that can actually be done in the classroom. Many textbook labs require a lot of expensive materials or they don’t work for a large class size. For instance one textbook lab required the use of hair dryers for each group. This does not work in my classroom for several reasons. The most significant reason is we have an old building and anytime you plug a few items into the outlets it blows the fuse and the classrooms next door are left without power. TpT have labs that have been kid tested and often require materials that are cheap and easily attainable.

  208. Stacey says:

    I am happy to pay another teacher for a resource that I don’t have time to create. I think it is good that teachers have a variety of styles and that we should respect our fellow professionals. Kids benefit from experiencing different styles of teaching.

  209. Aimee says:

    I like TPT and I use it often. I think some things are just cute so I usually don’t buy them. I find it a great resource when I see a need in my class and I don’t have the time or the original thought to make it on my own. I am drawn to items that are common core related because that is more important to me then cute. Any teacher that has ever met me knows by looking at my room that I really have no room in my life for worrying about cute things. I am a mother of three and I need every minute I can afford to get home to be a mom to them. TPT allows me to avoid going to the “teacher” store to find the things I need for my students. I can find them on my prep time download them and get them off to print shop before my contracted day is over. I do not just use them time and again without considering if my students will benefit from them just because I spent money on them. It is always about what my students need and what common core standards I need met. The fact is if I spent all the hours I would need to spend to make the same thing I bought for $5 I would be more likely to continue to use that because my time is worth more than $5. After 12 years of teaching I have files upon files to choose from that I both made and purchased which gives my students an advantage because I have many resources to choose from. So for this I thank TPT. I have sold a few products but I don’t do it for a business. I simply feel if I spend 5 hours making a unit for my class and it was good enough to teach to my students then another teacher might like it and the $2.99 I sell it for might help me buy another teachers lesson which then gives my students a new resource.

  210. Mike Kloran says:

    In my case the materials bought and sold on the site are SUPPLEMENTS to a lesson, not the lesson itself. I teach English so I’m working with standard patterns. As I’m new to the site though my conception is that the materials could be used for a few years then ditched and replaced with fresh ones.

    As for editing, there is software for editing PDFs and it’s just as easy to simply white out a block of text or a few words and change the context that way.

    I know that doesn’t apply to everything here but perhaps the issue isn’t just the materials but how teachers are using them.

    Compelling post. Thanks for putting this up here.

  211. I think your point about laminated resources is valid. I began my path in education as a Montessori teacher, where a primary focus is on creating beautiful materials. In fact, many of the materials cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Intern teachers spend 1-2 years hand-creating materials like picture cards or maps. I found myself limited in several ways. Like you stated, I would often use a material simply because it was expensive, beautiful, or laboriously created. Also, lessons often lagged, because I couldn’t design the materials fast enough, and I did not want to present anything less than perfect to my students. I thought I was modeling high standards. This left no room for spontaneous lessons or student-guided learning, two premises behind Montessori philosophy. I am proud to say that I have reformed from the beautifully-designed materials. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  212. Well Matt, I am not a teacher, I am a mother concerned for my children’s education. I recently came across this website, I liked some of the things they have for me to do at home with the boys. I have to say that I am a bit disappointed at my school district (let me try to explain, English isn’t my first language and its hard to express myself). See Ive been noticing that the schools are more focused on getting the kids to master all English and Math and I know why, its because of those standardized test. I however think education is much more than mathematics and English. That’s probably why people from other countries are more well rounded, having knowledge about a lot more subjects. You ask a kid here about certain countries and they don’t know where they are located. It is so so sad that the education here in the US is so mediocre compared to other countries, and this is a first world country…. I am from South America and since we were in elementary school, we had the same focus on geography, as we did in history, math, science, art, music, etc. I don’t know if I am making sense here, but as a mother I’ve seen how teachers are falling into this little square, like “this is what we have to teach kids, in order for them to do good on those standardized tests so that the school can continue to receiving whatever awards they get” they aren’t focusing in other subjects as much, like its not important at all. I have been contemplating homeschooling for quite some time now, because I’d have the freedom to teach my kids more and more things are will be important when they are out in the real world. I am not criticizing you guys. I think you do a beautiful job and I appreciate all the teachers out there, I just think that more teachers should try and focus on other subjects that are just as important as those two they tend to focus on. I don’t know if this is a cultural thing but its definitely an eye opener.

  213. Btw I forgot to say I really enjoyed your point of view. I like your way of thinking and I appreciate teachers like you. Whatever rant I went on earlier was because of my unhappiness towards my son’s current school district, which is like that for most school districts.

  214. Tigger58008 says:

    Matt, I use TPT as a resource, however I use MANY MANY resources and I have to agree with you on some of what you are saying. I work in Special Education with Early Childhood and Vision Impaired students at all levels. There are some great resources for speech and language development and ideas for things to be implemented, however when I have bought and downloaded things in the past I get a ton of junk that I don’t use that is a waste of resources to print and throw out, so now I just look at things and create my own materials which will work for my students at the moment. Many times I do laminate and save things because I may have similar students at a later time who may benefit from those things (PECS for example), however I am not saving a bunch of stuff I will not ever use.

    I believe in a LOT of hands on activities and movement being incorporated into our daily learning, at this level of development sitting still to learn something for 15 minutes is long enough, these kids need to move and they can if it is part of the routine!

    I can tell you that some of my students don’t have the vision to see the cute, however I do put some things up in the work area/room that I am given to work with students because I will be spending a lot of time in that room, which I realize that I have read this from others already.

    In my preschool setting at the beginning of the school year the walls are very bare, I have a job chart and a schedule and a sign on one wall that is black with words only that say preschool art gallery and what goes on my walls are their creations. This is their classroom where they will spend the school year and when it is decorated with their art and creations they get to take ownership in it. I use the internet to search for ideas and I look through books that I have purchased over the years, and I keep old lesson plans that I write on so that I know what worked and what was a disaster :-)

    Anyway, I know you didn’t bring up the money portion, but I will say one thing, some people who sell on that site think their ideas are worth gold, and then when I look at them I laugh because guess what, I have read or seen those same ideas other places! THAT’S what we do, beg, borrow and steal ideas because there are some great ones, adapt them and make them your own. PS I love Google!

    I also use Promethean Planet and Active Inspire with my Eno Board, I can make flipcharts and download flipcharts, which can then be adapted by myself for what I want to use them for, AND they are free! Much better option!

    The Cheap Teacher,


  215. Kristie Ayers says:

    I respect what you said and how you said it. I have bought stuff on TPT and then find myself frustrated that I have to tweek it for my kiddos and their needs. Then I think: Would it have been easier to have sat down and done it from scratch to begin with? I agree that it should be a jumping point, but not much more than that. BT Dubs: Is a glitter light sabre too cute? Caus that’s what I have in my room ;)

  216. Lori C. says:

    Matt- Great perspective and talking points. I usually have to get the FREEBIES because I work at non-profit center and cannot afford anything else. I also wish there was more diversity with that being said ,I was wondering if you had any websites that you could point me towards? Thanks

    • kerry says:

      Hi Lori, has some great resources (free), also, and Otherwise, go to Pinterest and search for resources there. I often find activities I like in all those sites.

  217. A. Tang says:


    I am a seller on TPT. I decided to have almost everything on my site be editable. Before I did this, I went on the TPT seller’s forum discuss this. Most sellers were very against this because doing this can open you up to copyright infringement or breaking the Terms of Use of the clip art or fonts you’ve purchased for your product. I was even accused for taking no pride in my work if I was so willing to have it stolen from under my nose. Needless to say the debate got fairly heated. I decided to go ahead with my plan because I can’t imagine “locking” a resource so that it can’t be revised for specific classroom needs. This really provides a base for teachers and saves them countless hours of work while giving them room to play with the resource if they want.


    As for some of the comments about free products vs. paid products. Most of the free products you can find on the internet lack the default items most paid products on TPT have. They usually lack answer keys, teacher’s notes on how to implement the resource and modification for different learning styles, and links to the common core.

    Most of the freebies out there are worksheets that get uploaded with typos, misprints and all. If you sell on TPT, typos, unclear instructions and outdated or wrong information will be the death of your store. This drives many of the products towards more editing, thoughtfulness and refinement which is lacking in many of the hastily uploaded freebie. The quality is better…it needs to be. Why buy it if you can get it for free? Because its better. The success of TPT demonstrates that the freebie marketplace is not providing the same value.

    As soon as teachers who are proponents of FREE are willing to have another person edit their work, make answer keys for everything, and write extensive instructions on implementation before posting it up for FREE, TPT will definitely end up with a real FREE competitor.

    But who of you would do that?

    I wouldn’t.

  218. A. Tang says:

    As you can see….my FREE commentary is fully of grammatical mistakes…. ;)

  219. Sara K says:

    As a teacher considering jumping into the selling aspect, I have a lot to consider. Thanks for the thoughts, Matt.

  220. Jessica Hamilton says:

    I will admit that I did not read all of these comments (there are a lot), but I certainly hope someone has mentioned this….Do we not all have standards that we are required to teach? Aren’t these standards (for the most part, the same from one year to the next? Why should I be criticized for using some of the same activities year to year when I am teaching the same content year to year? Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those people that keeps the same lesson plans and changes the date. I am always tweaking things, adding new activities and resources, etc. I actually have binders upon binders chock full of lessons, activities, crafts, centers, books, etc that I can choose from when planning my lessons. Just because it may not work for one group does not mean it won’t ever work again. I teach first grade and every year I have students that I have to remediate concept of word and letter sounds and every year I have students that I open the world of chapter books to. What is wrong with having resources for each of these, LAMINATING them so I don’t have to recreate all the time, and having them ready for when I need them? I don’t think you have a valid point at all and I think you should consider the fact that you are not some exceptional teacher simply because you are not smart enough to save materials for future students that may need them. I am so busy analyzing data, assessing students, going to meetings, talking to parents, not to mention teaching, that I do not have the time, energy, or money for starting from scratch every year. Shame on you for criticizing the amazing teachers out there and the work they are doing.

    I will admit that I just stumbled across this site. I do not follow you or no anything about you, but I have to wonder if you have a family at home to care for since you must live at school with all of the work you put on yourself.

    And I didn’t even touch on TPT because I was so appalled with this statement. I just recently purchased some adorable decodable readers on George Washington and Abraham Lincoln because it is a standard I have to teach and I loved that they were easy enough for most of my students to read. And you know what? I have NO problem telling you that I will use them again next year because I will still have to teach Washington and Lincoln next year. And both my students and I LOVED how cute they were!

    Perhaps you should not be so judging of your colleagues.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Thanks for the comment Jessica. I hope you will check out my site more. Glad you stopped by, and yes I have a family including three boys ages 12,8 and 7.

  221. Jordan says:

    Good teachers search for what will serve their students, rather than just pulling out activities to fill a time slot. I utilize TPT to try and find things that meet my students learning goal for that week, whether it be something they complete individually or something we do together. If my class is on a different page next yeay, you better believe I will be searching any resource I can for something to meet their needs- not just TPT.

  222. Jael says:

    This is an interesting viewpoint because I just started posting resources on TPT this week. I don’t have the cute stuff; just practical resources for teachers. I really hope that teachers will give my resources a look-see because if you are new to teaching, I have spelled exactly what to teach and when.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      The notion that you can tell teachers “exactly what to teach and when” is one of the big reasons I pushed back against TpT. New (and struggling) teachers need support and guidance, not a script. The keys to a successful classroom can not be printed from TpT.

  223. Mrs. M says:

    I enjoy TpT. I don’t always purchase because it doesn’t meet my students’ needs, but the ideas and creative approaches are invaluable. One thing I enjoy about the colorful and cute is that it makes charts memorable. Being an intermediate teacher we have been involved in high stakes testing for some time. If my kids can remember an anchor chart by looking at a place on the wall and remembering an illustration or color because of their spatial memory that is a tool in their belt. Obviously I aim for mastery but there will always be something they could’ve used more time with. These are the times I tell them to track to be Cam Jansen…. click! What do you see? Remember the activity now, what goofy thing did I do or have you do (gestures, dances, etc. ) The image is just a starting point.

  224. I must agree with you on many points. I teach at a classical charter school. We are not allowed to have much up on our walls. What we are allowed to have is to theme to our current history or literature unit. This was the first year where I could put up borders that were not what admin felt was “classical.” I will admit to looking at TPT but it normally does not have what I could use at my school unless I had the ability to tweak it, which I cannot due to pdf formatting.

  225. Hm. I have taught for 16 years. I do work to make my room cute, bright, and welcoming–even though I work with older kids (4th and 5th). And you know what? They do notice. They notice there’s a box of tissues on each table. They comment about the bean bag chairs, and they tell me they like my window treatments. Just yesterday, I had second graders in with me to play with my Lego after school (a teacher raffle prize from the fun fair), and they all said they liked my room. It’s comfortable, and that matters.

    As for the TPT stuff, I don’t partake. But I have found other sheets and games on the web that I use to supplement or replace published works. I never keep the stuff beyond use because I can’t hoard, and I don’t laminate because it’s truly horrible for the environment! Cardstock is durable and recyclable.


  226. I just wanted to comment on the “cuteness” factor. I decorate my high school classroom to create a welcoming environment for the students. Do they notice? The question to ask is whether you notice when you walk into a classroom or office that is dingy, cluttered, or plain vs. one that is colorful and nicely arranged? How do different spaces make you feel? I think the state of the classroom affects the learning environment and sends a message to students that we care about what we are doing. Of course, it is just one aspect of being an effective teacher, but it is an important one.

  227. Steph says:

    I am not a new teacher(have taught for 23 years)but I was put into a middle school 8th grade science position with materials! TPT has saved me! I do plenty of my own stuff but supplementing with things on TPT has saved me hours of time!

  228. Cat says:

    It amazes me how teaches can teach the same lesson plans year after year. The kids aren’t the same, why are your lesson plans the same? I’ve been teaching for 16 years how and I have collect a select number of teacher books and student resource books but it is NOTHING compared to the “things’ I see that are bought, laminated, and containerized by the 1st – 5th year teachers I know. And I guess with experience they may prune away a lot of their “collection” but teachers feel the need to waste money on materials that have work for teachers, with a certain group of students, is specific state, city, and neighborhood, and it may not work for them with the demographics they are responsible for educating.

    PLC’s (professional learning communities) are not implemented properly, if at all, at many schools and therefore, teachers in need of ideas and inspiration look outward from their schools when I’m sure there is brilliance to be had right there in their own schools.

  229. I think TpT is a tool that can be utilized or not. I use it a lot, but often I adapt or change what is there to meet the needs. I don’t buy a unit and stick to it. I may buy a unit and use parts of it or change how to present it. You points are valid in that each class is unique and teachers need to adapt, change, and create for their individual students.

    I teach Middle School social studies and taught English to grades 8-12 before that. Often TpT was a time-saver for me.

    I have found awesome scripts that helped me introduce a topic, or have purchased materials that would have taken me hours to put together myself. Also, I have used some of the materials as models for creating my own.

    While I agree with your points, it’s not that TpT is bad. It’s just like anything; it’s how the teacher uses it.

  230. I love TPT for its IDEAS!!!!! As Matt said in his first point, different kids need different resources and approaches, I work first through sixth grade in México and have never entertained the idea of just printing and laminating, it just wouldn´t work with my kids. But the ideas are brilliant, I will continue to buy from the site even if I don´t directly use the files. I may not know very well how the average American teacher works right now, but I find it hard to believe that a teacher with the initiative to look outside his classroom and to sites like TPT will conform to printing off file after file to avoid more work. Just a thought!!

  231. Mike Wornell says:

    Do the materials we create while doing our jobs not become the property of our employers? If so, they are not ours to sell.

  232. Sue says:

    I think I don’t understand your post, or perhaps it’s other people’s responses to your post. I work in an environment that stresses instruction. We constantly question how to meet our students’ needs. In staff meetings, we constantly question if we are properly teaching the standards. I buy products on TPT because I do not have resources to meet the needs of my students. Our language arts materials alone are 14 years old, and they do not meet the CCSS. I like to differentiate. Once I buy things, I’m not going to toss them out. I taught K for 7 years, and I now teach 2nd. There are a handful of students, as unfortunate as it is, need those K resources. As for the cuteness factor: I don’t have a problem with cute, but even the cutest rooms at my school still have an academic focus. I guess we have a good balance where I work. I currently teach 2nd grade on a split contract. This is the first year I was unable to spend time sufficient time in my classroom before school started so I could cleaning, unpack, organizing, arranging and decorate like I have in the past. My room did not get “refreshed”, and it is impossible to do so now that school has started. So our room sits with a whole wall covered with black butcher paper. It is dark. It is depressing. I hate it. No matter what student work I display on that wall, it is still so depressing. I yearn for the colorful classroom with large windows that I left behind when I left K. Now, on the opposite side of the spectrum, there is a school in my district with a very strict Fire Marshal. Their rooms are no longer cute. After attending PBIS training this week with teachers from that school, there was a discussion about school climate and culture. The fire marshal’s stern control over what she allows in classrooms has really hindered that school. They say they can feel there has been a climate change. They do not feel happy because they can’t change the colors of their walls anymore (no butcher paper, no fabric, nothing). They are dreary, and it has negatively impacted the staff.

  233. reena says:

    I’m really neither for or against TPT. I have bought a couple of things from them and I have downloaded several things. I agree about the cutesy stuff. Plus unless you are going to print every copy in color the cute stuff doesn’t really matter and who can afford to print 25 color copies of everything you hand out. But the comments I’ve seen about the fact that this homemade teacher stuff should be free, I disagree with. If someone takes the time to design and make something they should be paid for others to use it. If you had an account on etsy and made jewelry you would want to be paid. If you made home interior items you would want to be paid. So let teachers be paid for their creativity. It has helped me a lot when I didn’t feel I had the creativity to design something fory lessons.

  234. Barbara says:

    I like Teacher’s Notebook. They give away lots of things and some are editable. I teach PK and we do not have an updated curriculum to meet the new standards, so I find many ideas on TPT and Teacher’s Notebook. I don’t mind paying for something I know I will use many times. I don’t have time or the creativity to do some of the things those people do. I would like to see more real-life images too.

  235. Carla McLeod says:

    I sell secondary products on TpT and I’ve purchased plenty from the site. I can honestly say I am a better teacher because of both. I think teachers, as professionals, can distinguish between substance and junk and make informed purchase decisions. Of course some products will be better than others. But this article seems to imply that TpT is for lazy, “laminating” teachers who just want the quickest route from point A to point B. I really couldn’t disagree more. TpT sells a ton of quality, innovative products (many of which are sold in other formats than PDF) that absolutely meet the needs of the students. But each teacher, of course, must be judicious on how to use the product s/he buys. And if a teacher IS using the site just for an easy way to do his/her job, then shame on that teacher, not on TpT.

    Additionally, while all teachers share materials for free (this one included), what is wrong with a teacher being an entrepreneur? Why can’t teachers benefit financially from the fruits of their many labors? This is applauded in every other profession. And yet teaching is a profession, at least in my state, in which, unless you have a side job or a business of your own, it is almost impossible to get by. I’d rather buy from from a fellow teacher who knows what it is like to do my job and who could use the few dollars I’m spending than a zillionaire textbook publisher trying to make another buck. It seems like we so often complain that textbook companies, politicians and parents–people who never have taught in a classroom–run the schools and our lives. And yet when teachers attempt to take just an ounce of control back, we are criticized by some of our own.

    I think the feedback in this string is interesting and valuable. But if a lesson is cookie-cutter or “cutsie,” blame the teacher who is teaching it, not the web site it came from. That’s like cooking a lousy steak and blaming the cow.

  236. Kristy says:

    I have purchased items from teachers pay teachers. But I am very selective in what I choose. I only buy things that meet my students’ needs. I don’t have a problem with teachers selling items. If they spend many hours creating things why give those away for free? I do agree with you though in the respect that it would be nice if some of the files could be altered.

  237. rich h says:

    I came into teaching from the computer world… specifically Linux… I have always been a fan of the “free as in beer” AND “free as in freedom”.. While most programmers work on salaries which allow them to buy the programming tools they need (or work for companies that understand the need for those tools), we all know that education is different.

    I fully agree that the PDF format is wrong (you NEED to be able to adjust it), and while I understand teachers needing to make a living, I think that things like this should be shared. If it is good enough to sell, then the target for the sales should be the school/district, not the individual teachers (I have had my school buy some great worksheet sets like this)

  238. Theresa says:

    I found your article interesting. I teach self contained/life skills classroom. I use most of the ideas on TPT as a jumping off point for my students. It would be easier if the items were in a different format, so that I would be able to modify them if I wanted to use them, instead of creating one from scratch.

  239. Jen D. says:

    I agree that there seems to be a “culture of cute” among certain teachers and certain sites. Photos and illustrations should be used to add to a child’s understanding and/or to pique their interest. Look for opportunities to teach and learn, not opportunities to decorate.

  240. Betty Manguson says:

    Thank you for providing photographs of REAL plants and animals, etc. to students instead of cutsey cartoony art. I agree that it is more important to provide factual images of plants and animals rather than artistic interpretations, which can distort children’s visual memories and knowledge of facts. We wouldn’t feed students a diet of nothing but fairy tales with no non-fiction material, so why feed them a diet of cartoons? I admire your philosophy.

  241. Sheila Olson says:

    I am teaching in China for a year and materials are difficult to find. TPT has been a life saver. We have a printer that barely works, no textbooks and I have kids from 1-4th grade that don’t speak English. Shipping from the US is cost prohibitive and I brought only a few items with me thinking there would be more available in China. Not so. Many of the materials on TPT have helped me to do my job. I feel like you are not giving teachers enough credit for making intelligent choices because they use TPT. Also I cannot believe you have enough time to read this blog it is so long.

  242. Nicole says:

    I agree with you Matt. I have felt that way myself since I heard about that site. I teach A Gen. Ed. Kindergarten class and I have taught everything from Pre-K to 4th and Sp.Ed. and I feel that all classes need instruction that is tailored to that specific group, as you have stated, and a multi-sensory approach with substance. I think the lessons should be fun, but not just “fluff.”

  243. That’s why my products are called “no fluff teacher stuff” no wasted toner and ink simple formats that address the standard!

  244. Lori says:

    Thank you for two things Matt…..
    First – I feel the pressure to create these ‘fancy’ stations and you’ve reminded me that they are not necessary.
    Second – I appreciate that you said you re-invent the wheel every year…..I’ve always said that I am my “own worst enemy” because I make so much work for myself. I don’t use the same ideas over and over….I make my daily plans different every year! (and I’ve been teaching Kindergarten for over twenty years)


  245. First of all, the teachers who post on TPT put many hours into the products they produce. They not only sell them, but offer many of them free. Many of them are “cute”, but there are also many of them that use realistic art or none at all. Before TPT I spent many hours in teacher stores buying products from Carson and Dellosa, Frank Shafer, and many other large companies. The reason: I was creative as a beginning teacher, and I loved to create my own materials, games, etc. However, by the time I had taught 40 years, I no longer had the creativity or the time to create my own materials. So, I purchased them. I would much rather purchase from the teachers of TPT in order to supplement their income than the large companies. So, I love TPT and I have so much respect for those teachers who spend their time trying to help me save a little of my own time to do something else. cc

  246. MelK says:

    That’s ridiculous…glad you have so much time to waste bashing a very beneficial website with fairly priced activities that address common core standards and work well with students. Maybe instead you should sell your preferences on the site!! Lol

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Exactly who is bashing? Glad you have time for that. I respectfully ask questions and share my thoughts. You should try it some time.

    • Nancy says:

      I agree. If you don’t like it, don’t use it. The site is very beneficial to those of us who are teaching classes which have no text books. Everyday I have to put together lesson plans for a class that has all levels of abilities, find sources, activities, worksheets and assessments. Do I use just what I get from TPT and not supplement and enrich them to meet my students needs? Of course not, The insinuation that we are lazy and just looking for an easy way out is insulting. I agree with MelK that most teachers I know work 12 to 15 hours a day and any resource we can find to help us design interesting, engaging, and challenging lesson plans that meet CC is a blessing. Let’s not forget, there are teachers that teach the same subject year after year and are easily able to tweak their own lesson plans. Then there are others who have two or more preps for classes they have never taught before, no textbook therefore, they must design and print everything. Now we are using so many DBQs that it wonderful to be able to buy a PowerPoint to introduce or review the information before they get into primary source documents since there is no textbook. I have spent three to four hours making one PowerPoint from scratch as opposed to purchasing one and modifying to fit my needs. I purchased one on Cuba recently and added slides with more in depth information about the Cuban Revolution. It worked beautifully. Sorry, I think there a more constructive activity would be to add things that work for you that other teachers (particularly new teachers) would find helpful!

  247. I agree with the points you made. My biggest peeve is the PDF. Sometimes I browse TPT for ideas and recreate it myself. It’s nice to have a resource to browse for fresh ideas. All of the teachers commenting, “I work hard to create those documents, I should get paid.” Um… You are already being paid to create things for your classroom. How do you think all the other teachers in the country have games in their centers? They create them, and use them. :)

  248. Dani says:

    I agree that if I buy something I want to be able to adjust it to meet my needs. Thus why I downloaded a free piece of software called unpdf. It takes pdf documents and makes them into word docs. This way I can change them however I want. I do a lot of cutting and pasting things together on my laptop so I can get what I want without having to start from scratch.

    I think teachers work way too hard making completely original things for their classrooms often in our free time. On average a teacher works 60-80 hours per week. That is a lot of overtime that we aren’t getting paid for. I think this site is a good way for teachers to make a little extra cash on the things that take up our “free” time. A little cash for the things we are required to do as a professional but that tend to cut in to time that could be spent on other things.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      I know there is software that allows you to covert a PDF but the reality is you don’t have the right to do that in most cases. Many sellers prohibit making changes to their documents. I don’t think we should go against that.

  249. Andrea says:

    I don’t do cute! I am a middle school teacher and find TpT very helpful for finding literature units and powerpoints on literary topics. I do edit my purchases when necessary. I also have posted my own 100+ slide powerpoints on ancient history because I really think they are engaging and the kids LOVE them! I see your point, but for certain topics/content TpT has saved me HOURS of work!!

  250. Joe Robinson says:

    Matt, I particularly appreciate your third point. I teach in a 4-5-year-old class, and I can tell you that the emphasis on cuteness is blown even further out of proportion in younger classrooms. As an example, there are many activities and classroom displays that are built around cute phrases or poems that very few students can even read, much less understand or actually Lear from.

  251. Sherry says:

    Matt, I think teachers are responsible professionals. If you created a device that created change in the world you would market it, profit by it, and be paid for it. Teachers have long been viewed as less than professionals due to the fact that they work with children instead of adults. Teachers Pay Tea hers s no different than EBay or Etsy, just a way to market your idea. People CHOOSE to purchase it, no one “makes” you EBay. A collaborative environment is invaluable, but there are those that won’t put in the effort and expect everyone to give them what they spent weeks creating. Cute is not mandatory, but it creates an environment where students enjoy learning.

  252. I agree that if I buy something I want to be able to adjust it to meet my needs. Thus why I downloaded a free piece of software called unpdf. It takes pdf documents and makes them into word docs.

  253. S. Brown says:

    I don’t think it is about whether you decide to use Tpt or not. I think every teacher tries really hard to meet the needs of their students and they do that by finding things that their students are interested in and ways to help their students engage and use all types of things to motivate them. I have been teaching for a lot of years, and no two classes or their needs have ever been alike. Two of the best resources I have though at my disposable is pinterest and tpt. Not so much the products, even though I do buy. Through the store I get to learn about other teachers blogs and that gives me a peek into their classrooms and lets me see how they are teaching something or that inspires me to come up with a new way to help a student or a group of students who are still struggling with a certain skill in my classroom. Some of those teachers are amazing and I fill honored to get to learn from them and it helps me to be better at what I am doing too. I am not cookie cutting, but learning more and more every day
    and that is what good teachers do. We are all still learning and it takes these teachers hours and hours to create some of their products, things I would never have known about it if it weren’t for the store or pinterest. They have great ideas and the time to create, that helps all of us. I love the ideas I get for anchor charts, songs, and hands on activities that help my students get better and better. There is nothing that beats just getting in there and getting to know your students and their strengths and weaknesses and helping them to connect, and succeed. I think that is what I hear you say that you do and that is great! We are all here to help STUDENTS and do that any way we can! To each his own!!! I personally know I and most teachers put in 12 to 15 hours a day easily!! I also teach Kindergarten.

  254. Wendy d says:

    Hey Matt , your Ideas are so refreshing. Kids learn through conceptual engagement in authentic situations. I’ve just retired here in Australia from Senior Consultancy & teaching maths and have become a seller on TPT. Why not have a look at my Problem Solving lesson cards for K-1 and Counting Principles wall chart. These provide question and comment starters to focus students and draw out the mathematics practises from imitative play. While they are meant to be laminated to withstand water and sand they are neither cute nor rote, instead they enhance teacher’s professional judgements about drawing out explicit mathematical thinking and conceptual development. Differentiation is at teacher’s fingertips.
    Teachers go there when they have run out of…… Inspiration, direction, understanding. Good explicitness help should be on hand at those moments. It will only be there if folk who ‘get it’ go to the trouble of loading it on.

  255. LifeinIDaho says:

    too much cuteness makes me want to puke. I like simple and clean. I do love TPT as a resource. There are times when I just want to brainstorm an idea and my teaching partner doesn’t get into things like I do. I have found some great ideas on TPT that have helped me shape what I was thinking into reality. Sometimes I buy, sometimes I cruise through the free stuff, other times I create from the ideas I get. I have downloaded a number of things that I had to tweak for my use. I don’t have a problem with that. Now if you can’t use the resource correctly to fit your kids’ needs then that is your bad. Good teachers don’t just force something on their students whether it works or not…that is why so many of us create for TPT, or shop on TPT…because our adopted curriculum has holes that need to be filled for our classroom learners!

  256. Alex says:

    I agree with what Matt expressed in his blog and comments. What one teacher creates for their own classroom may not necessarily meet the needs of every other classroom across the county, state, province, etc. TPT is a lovely resource for parents and teachers to find activities that meet the interests and expectations of each teacher and classroom.

    My partner and I have “given up” so to speak on the entire education system when we realized that our son was not learning in the same way the teacher was teaching. Now, this isn’t to bash the teacher. We just felt that the teacher did her best to make sure that she used lesson plans that most of the kids would understand. But our son, like many 8 and 9 year old boys, doesn’t bode too well in “structured learning environments” like that. So we pulled him out and decided to home school him.

    As a result, we have had to create an entire custom curriculum for him to learn from – still going over the content the provincial ministry of education has set out as expectations, but entirely altering the approach to it. There’s much more hands-on, and conversations, instead of writing, listening, reading.

    But I’m sure that we are not the only parents who feel that way, and we use TPT as a tool to help other parents who might feel the same way – by tweaking each and every lesson plan so it’s tailored to each child individual needs. If a child isn’t understanding the way we teach, we need to change the way we teach.

    I would love any feedback, if there is any!


  257. Lynda Bryant says:

    I have been teaching 20 years. Kids need variety and teachers do too! An unhappy teacher makes an unhappy classroom. “Momma ain’t happy….” An unhappy kid makes a miserable place. We should be doing whatever it takes to get our kids to learn. A person with lots of professional talents spends 10,000 hours on being fabulous. So we need to be giving as many opportunities and the variety of ways to learn.

    Remember there is always two sides to everything for grownups and children. Picking one side or the other limits you and the children you teach.

    Teach your hearts out….Lynda

  258. Megan says:

    I am a female and I do not do the ever popular trendy “cute” things. I do not have a classroom yet, but I am trying hard now for 2.5 years. I have made worksheets for TPT and for students when student teaching, they were not cute. I like clean and simple. It takes up too much space, I dislike chevron patters, polka dots, and clip art kids. I would focus on student art and focus on themes that are more than patterns and colors. I would prefer my classroom images to inspire students and spark imagination.

  259. scratch maps says:

    I agree with what Matt expressed in his blog and comments. What one teacher creates for their own classroom may not necessarily meet the needs of every other classroom across the county, state, province, etc. TPT is a lovely resource for parents and teachers to find activities that meet the interests and expectations of each teacher and classroom.

  260. I agree with Matt on the clip art. I’ll admit my company does have a TpT store because we make educational science kits but one thing we don’t do is use clip art rock and mineral pictures. It drives me crazy to see kits and books with sketches of “rocks” that not only look nothing like a real rock, but also have feet and a face.

  261. Patti says:

    Speaking from the perspective of a first year teacher, TPT has been an invaluable resource for me… I have spent my entire weekend every weekend lesson planning since August. There is one teacher who creates activities that directly align with my curriculum. It has been a Godsend for me (unfortunately, I only found her activities in the last few months), so while you may have some valid points, for new teachers like me it really helps…

    • Matt Gomez says:

      The growing pains and learning through that first year of teaching are important. I bet you are a better teacher because of the time and energy you put in all those weekend. Doesn’t mean sites like TpT cant assist but if you had found that person sooner maybe you would have grown less as a teacher. Just a thought.

  262. Edith says:

    Hi, I’m a new teacher and haven’t been interacting with TPT until a month ago. I’ve heard about it but I do a lot of attempting to recreate the wheel and that has been driving me crazy this year. I inherited a class from a 10+ years veteran teacher, TPT has to a degree help me to finish this out without so much stressing out. But I do agree with a most of your points. It is best to mold information for each class differently and I do plan to do so in the future. But right now, this is a starting point that does help me to get information across that needs to be taught. I’m not a glitter and polka dot person either but I do believe a classroom should be vibrant with color and have an home feel to it. But over bearing it with frills is just as over stimulating as having anchor charts covering every vacant space.

    — a more relaxed first year teacher as the end gets nearer :)

    • Matt Gomez says:

      I like your perspective, it can be helpful but the process you have gone through has been an important part of becoming the teacher you want o be. Thanks for reading and the comment!

  263. izzi says:

    This has been a really interesting read. I am a homeschooler and I honestly see TPT as a sort of short-term curriculum center to supplement whatever I am teaching. I do buy things on there, and don’t mind paying $3 for a 10-15 page file I will only use one time, because it’s supplementing my curriculum and honestly I am a super busy mom and i don’t have time to always create everything from scratch.
    We do plenty of down to earth no-materials-needed life learning at home, read books, place dice games, use counters, blocks, go outside and explore, use curriculum i’ve already purchased, etc — normal stuff.
    But my K/1 boys really enjoy Lapbooks especially, and while you can search the internet for HOURS for some decent, or possibly crappy, lapbook materials, and i often have to create at least a few pieces on my own, TPT offers a higher quality at a much quicker pace for me (last night I stayed up til 1 am creating pieces for a Plant lapbook for my son).
    He is really proud when he uses all the things we learn to assemble a book and keep it on our shelf (shows to dad, grandma, etc). I wouldn’t say it really has much clip art, but one piece does. Anyway…. I am only on my second year of teaching and I will not be using these things more than 2x because I’m just a homeschooler. So they rarely get “laminated”. The fact that they are so cheap, makes it easy for me to constantly adjust my curriculum to my kids needs and interests, or we have extra time in a unit, to supplement that (without HAVING to stay up til 1am every night prepping).
    Anyway, just a homeschoolers’ two cents!
    I was honestly debating throwing up some of my personally created materials onto TPT because I don’t have a blog or anything, and it would be nice to know someone would be able to use them, instead of me just using them once or twice. I did go to college for graphic design, Ha! Maybe one day I will put that to use. For now I’m having fun teaching at home.
    Thanks for your article.

  264. izzi says:

    Oh and my lack of clip art and patterns on the stuff I usually choose, is less because I hate that, and more because the price of color printing is so high. I did invest in a color laser printer, but still, I can’t afford to be printing 20 pages of cutesy or even realistic pictures. This is why investing in books and looking at things online is great tho. not everything needs to be printed out.

  265. Wendy says:

    I rather pay a teacher for resources then a big money company who sells teacher resources at a higher price. Some of the teachers on this sight go through the same things I go through. Plus, some of the ideas can’t be found in big money teacher resource book.

  266. Realist says:

    Cuteness is in the eyes of the beholder. I think the posters in the classes would look even cuter if teachers can get their students engaged in making them. If the theme is animals, make structured groups and assign an animal to each group during art class etc while teaching body parts.

    I support apps. but would use them for introductory activities then have students do a mosaic, drawing, painting, or whatever they are capable of as a constant reminder of their achievement. Use a lot of waste material (reduce reuse recycle). Should help to foster memory.

    Buying a few things shouldn’t hurt either, but let the students shine.

  267. writer says:

    To address one of your concerns about not being able to change PDF files: Get a copy of the latest version of Adobe Acrobat (version 11 is the latest I think). With that you can make changes to PDF files.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      There are many quick and easy ways to edit a PDF. The issue is that most TpT sellers do not give you the right to do that with their terms of use. I don’t think we should change and edit the products without permission becuase it is their work.

  268. emmudie says:

    Thanks for the Creative Commons link. I had never heard of it before and I agree with you about cute although I have bought products on TPT, I did not buy them b/c they were cute. I did buy them b/c they met a need at the time. Most of what I buy are games that the kids can use to review with as opposed to units or worksheets. If I do buy units I never use them the way they were created. I always modify them to meet the needs of my current students and the way I teach. If you ask the creators of the units, they will often be willing to make modifications for you.

    Like you, I never teach the same way twice even if it is the same unit. So if I buy a unit, it is a starting point and I may or may not use it the next year. Even if I create my own units, I tend to change them slightly each year. I suppose I do this partly b/c I have different students and partly b/c I would be bored to death teaching the same thing the same way all of the time.

    I would have to say, the thing I don’t like about TPT is that it is a tad addictive and it makes me a bit lazy at times. I find I will buy something that I could easily make on my own which is silly b/c I buy it and then change it anyways! I could have saved myself a buck and created it the way it works for me and my students in the first place. When I create my own anchor charts, like you, I use pictures of real things. I find I have a lot of students, who unlike me, never had the opportunity to travel, wander in the woods with their parents, go camping, etc. and so they see very little of nature or structures, or what not so it is good to let them see images of real things.

    I am glad that you wrote this post and that I happened upon it. It has caused me to think and re-evaluate not only why I purchase things on TPT but how I teach and my original goals and beliefs about how I want to teach and meet the needs of my students. It never hurts to be reminded of this and it is dangerous to become complacent as a teacher. Thanks, Matt.

  269. Jillian says:

    So true, I love all that cutesy stuff, but you really won’t see it in my classroom. I’ve often felt that the “cutesy” stuff masks the fact that the idea(s) behind it may not be as academic as we’d like. I agree that “cute” can placate parents. I’m grateful you’ve had the guts to post what I have been thinking for years but too afraid to say publicly outside of my social circle.

  270. Gina says:


  271. misty says:

    1. I agree with the idea that purchases/items should be in a format that can be edited. I enjoy the materials, but frequently do not like the use of cutesy fonts for kids who may already have difficulty reading, and all students who are trying to learn to correctly form letters.

    2. I think this point could be true for any material purchased by a teacher. An editable format would alleviate some of this issue because they could be used for differentiated learning/teaching.

    3. Although “cute” is not a bad thing, we tend to forget that images should serve a function in the classroom. The prevalence of children with ADHD, Autism, and sensory processing deficits in the regular education classroom is on the rise. As we become more aware of these children’s needs, we find that visual overload is a common problem that negatively impacts their functioning in the classroom. Classrooms, worksheets and materials should not be overstimulating. I.E. solid colors on the walls and solid colored “curtains” for bookshelves, etc. While “cute” may make the teacher happy, it isn’t the most conducive environment for student focus. I recommend that all teachers take a class or participate in continuing education in the area of Executive Functioning.

    Misty Hopkins, Speech Language Pathologist

  272. Kristi says:

    I like tpt. Yet, I agree with you completely. I am often inspired by wonderful ideas that need to be tweaked and tweaked again and again. I’ve never purchased from the site, but I would if items were adaptable. I am a math coach and often do not agree with the amount of information that is given away… and should be determined by the students. If I could purchase items and edit them, I would happily spend too much money here.
    I’ve recently asked my district to purchase fonts and backgrounds for me because if we want the teachers to use the content we feel is best.. it needs to have zebra stripes and bubbly borders or they will simply ditch it for something prettier.
    It is a new learning disability called “Attention Deficit Hyper OOH Something Sparkle-y Syndrome”

  273. Marilyn says:

    Cute should be created by the kids… dressing up a classroom before the school year, I believe stifles their creativity. Kids want to see their creations… by the end-of-the school year it’s fun to see the room decorated with their creations… with that said, we create ASL resources that are few and hard to find, since our emphasis on using ASL in the classroom. We don’t make them cute for cute’s sake, but to make them attractive to the teacher purchase and use. I believe resources created to share (and sell) helps bring in other ideas that teachers may not have thought of, like ASL in the classroom and fun ways to bring it in.

  274. Brandy says:

    I am a classroom teacher turned homeschooler, and I have a comment about the cutesy resources. My classroom was never decorated to the max because I personally feel suffocated with too much stuff. I’ve learned in our homeschool that my children are the same way, so I don’t feel like my room was too cutesy or overdone and our homeschool room is very homey, not schoolish. Less is more a lot of the time.

    Like me, my daughter appreciates cute fonts and clip art. Though, like me, she doesn’t require it to enjoy learning. However, something happened with a son of mine that made me rethink my position on cute altogether. Not long after we began homeschooling, I ordered a very cute activity from TpT containing the sweetest boy themed clip art. My son took one look and proclaimed it too girly for him. He didn’t see the cute Star Wars clip art as cute at all. To him it was a girlified version of Star Wars. Now, I know Star Wars is for boys and girls, but it lacked the look of the type of illustrations boys are attracted to. I’ve also learned that given the choice, my boys will always choose photographs to represent things over illustrations any day.

    I guess my point is that I worry about what these cutesy classrooms are doing to boys. I know most people don’t think it does anything, and maybe one little resource wouldn’t, but over time lots of little resources add up and have to have an effect on a boy’s mind. If I ever go back to the classroom, I will consult my boys and daughter on how to create an environment and learning resources that will engage both genders in the ways important to them.

  275. Great post! Been reading around about this website. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here!

  276. Rachel says:

    I’m not a teacher, but a mom of a just graduated kindergartener trying to find some things that could help keep my daughters skills through the summer. I do like teachers pay teachers and have found some great things and I like how cutesy a lot of the materials are. There is clearly a lot of time and effort put into them. That said though, I find that many people put so many graphics on the worksheets that there are not a lot of problems/items on the worksheet. Kind of a waste of ink I think – cute, but not necessarily challenging for her. If I were the teacher I would want more items, not an overwhelming amount, but more.

  277. Stacy C. says:

    Last year was my first year teaching K and TPT saved my life! I’m in an extremely poor school with few resources so I needed to spend plenty of my own money to really get things going. I now have whole units on numbers and vowels that would have taken me days to create. And coming from the upper grades, a lot of the resources helped me scale things (both in terms of font and verbiage) to the K brain.

    I remember reading your blog post when I was researching classroom decor at the end of last year. I’m doing things very differently this year, partly in response to learning to manage my own ADHD without medication. I’m going very minimalist and not using primary colors. There will be very few things on the wall that aren’t student created, and most student work will be strictly on the bulletin boards. I’ve read plenty of research about our overstimulated youngsters and that, coupled with my own gut feelings about color and over-decor, has led me away from the themes of previous years (but what to do with all my Poppin’ Patterns stuff???).

    This year I’m going for pretty (as has been said, I spend most of my waking hours there), calm, and organized this year. I’m even painting an old wooden desk I found to replace the industrial metal one. Maybe it’s a girl thing, but my mood can be affected by my surroundings.

    Maybe I’ll send you a picture when I get it set up. ;-)

    • Matt Gomez says:

      I am glad you are reflecting on the classroom decor, it is important that we always think through every aspect of teaching. I would love to see a picture when you are done!

  278. teach3ky says:

    I read your post, I create for me, my students and other teachers. I create for parents and administration, Those people who aren’t students are your stakeholders and the ones who in reality pay your salary. TPT was created as a way for teachers to share ideas. I look for great ideas on TPT and if it doesn’t suit the needs of my class that year, then I make my own and tweak it to meet the needs of my students each year. And please don’t think kids don’t notice how things look. One day during indoor recess, a few of my students saw me creating a resource on ppt for them. When I brought out the resource to use in class, the girls that saw the resource in the creative stage said to the other kids, “Mrs.Sadler made this!” One gal even said, “Mrs. Sadler, I saw you making this, I love it!” And then the rest of the students started making anything they turned into me that much nicer because I made their work cute and interesting to look at. One student actually tried harder on some math work because I put in some cute hunting clip art. So Mr. Gomez, they notice and for some children it motivates them. I have been in the classroom for 15 years and TPT is a blessing. If you don’t like it, so be it, there are well over a million other teachers out there who disagree.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      TpT was created to make money. It is a business like any other tool or service out there. It was created as a way for teachers to sell their ideas. I know it helps and supports teachers and I understand that if someone is going to make money we would rather teachers get the money. But it is still a business and quickly becoming as large as Pearson, Scholastic and all the other education business out there.

  279. Matt, you need to create a “Teacher SHARES” (Sharing, Helping, And Reaching Every Student) site where we can share what we are using (in WORD format, so it can be adapted to meet our needs.) I know the kids could care less about the “pretty” but I spend hours of my time and my own cash every year trying to create an environment that both myself and the kids are comfortable, engaged, but not overly distracted. Because they may not notice the “pretty” but I think they feel the care and love I put into it!

  280. I am a retired teacher of 37 years. As soon as I retired I went to work as a teacher’s assistant in a parochial school. (Just a little background).
    I certainly enjoy all this discussion! A veteran teacher has seen MANY facets and phases in education and the classroom.

    A combination of both “teacher” personality and “student created” gives a student a sense of having a relationship with the teacher and knowing that that teacher appreciates what the student does.

    The most talented teachers I have known start with a little of their own personality and on day one of the year start to integrate the students’ ideas and work. A teacher I taught with did just that. Her students were always engaged and excited about what they were creating and learning.

    We came from an era of creating and sharing our own classroom items. It was a wonderful way to connect.

  281. Liz Tree says:

    I did not read the whole thing BUt I am sooo sick of cute cute cute and yup i am not a man…..

  282. Trisha Hoppmann says:

    Matt, I’m here in Vegas ready to start the conference tomorrow. I really enjoyed your take on TPT. I am a bit of TPT junkie but have often thought many of the same “I think..” Can’t wait to learn from you.

  283. Pam in Misosuri says:

    Just found your post and I’m very interested in what you are saying as well as the responses you are receiving. I am a former home schooling mom. Currently, I am a very involved public school parent. I am also considering returning to school to complete an education degree. I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments but a few thoughts have bubbled up in my mind that I wanted to share.

    First off: cute overload. I agree with someone who commented about sensory overload. I get a little anxious walking into some of the classrooms at my kids’ elementary school. I have no diagnosed sensory difficulties or ADD but I can only imagine how overwhelmed some kids who have those issues might feel. There is simply no place for the eye to rest. So far, I’ve been in exactly ONE room out of about 30 where it felt restful. The teacher used lighter colored, simple fabrics to cover up distractions. She kept the posters and wall art to a minimum, concentrating on only what was being taught at the moment. I loved her room!

    Second thought: meaningful content within the room. When I see classrooms that are full of posters and signs and what not on the meet the teacher night before the start of the school year, I wonder how meaningful all that information is going to be to the kids. To me it seems like it would be much more meaningful to build those displays in a cooperative manner, even using student artwork when possible. If the students have no first-hand experience to associate with the information on the wall, it all becomes so much background noise with no context.

    Final thought (for now): ability to edit PDFs. PDFs can be edited in Photoshop Elements or Acrobat Professional. I believe either can be obtained for about $100 if your school doesn’t already have those resources. It really isn’t that hard to change up the content. You could even go the old fashioned literal cut and paste route before making copies.

    Julst like any resource, buyer beware. And remember the old three-legged stool of small amount of time/effort, low price, and high quality. You can usually find two of the three but rarely all three in one place. You just have to set your priorities and be careful of what you buy.

  284. Sherri says:

    I just found your post and found it very thoughtful and interesting. I taught for 10 years before the internet so resources were copied from books or handmade. I left for 10 years to raise kids and just returned to the classroom this past year. I am currently a 1st grade teacher.

    Wow! What a difference 10 years has made. I think I went a little TPT nuts last year because I had no resources (I’d sold or passed on my teacher materials) and I liked being able to buy items for just what I was covering as opposed to a whole resource book with 3 pages on what I need. That said, the more time I’ve spent “shopping” on TPT the more frustrated I’ve become. I agree with many of your previous commenters that many sellers are in a cute race because they want their product to be the one purchased.

    The point where I’ve become turned off is when I saw all the “Come and meet me in Vegas and get a pic” ads on blogs of top sellers. When did they become celebrities? Why do they refer to their readers/ buyers as “fans”? TPT seems to be creating some big egos and sadly, many of their products are not pedagogically sound. They just know they can sell anything they put their name on at this point. I purchased an alphabet from a top seller, only to find the vowels are a mix of short, long and one digraph (owl for ‘o’). A lot of newer teachers, especially, get caught up in the popularity of these sellers because they lack the teaching experience and confidence to trust their own ideas. While there are some valuable, well-made, research supported products on TPT, most are just cutesy seat work. The comments often prove the blind allegiance to these sellers: “soooooo darling!”, “your stuff is always adorable”, “I buy all of your packets … too cute!”, etc. Are these teachers even looking for substance?

    I just wish I’d gone to college in a tech era so I’d have more skills to create my products myself. Because I teach on an Indian reservation and we are to integrate the tribal language/ culture, I really want to make many of my own materials and resources like alphabets, colors and numbers. Unfortunately, I just don’t know which programs do what or how to use them for creating work pages and decor products. Sometimes, I’m forced onto TPT for that reason. I’m not entirely against TPT but I do wish it wasn’t developing into a teacher resource version of jr high, where popularity rules.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      This was one of my big concerns. New teachers buying stuff and using without thinking through the “why.” Yes I am overgeneralizing but I think it happens more than people want to admit. The celebrity status thing is difficult to explain and it isn’t their fault. I can honestly say I have met many of them and they are good people really trying to make a difference. I know I can do better in helping teachers and my hope was the post would make everyone reflect on how we can help each other. Thanks for the comment!

  285. I’m not sure if someone else has mentioned this (I’ll admit to a bit of ADD and scrolled to the end after reading about 10 comments…sorry), but I taught secondary (from 5-12th grade) for nearly a decade and so the resources I sell are targeted at that age group. Fortunately, I don’t have to deal with the “cuteness” issue, since those kids would blanch at the sight of bubble letters or cutesy clip art. However, I do want to address one of your concerns, which is the editability (and therefore same-every-year) issue. While all my products (except the free ones) are done in .pdf or .ppsx (the Power Point Show format – non-editable), I make it clear on each of my product descriptions that all the buyer has to do is email me and I am more than happy to send them an editable version of the product. I have people do that all the time. The reason I post in .pdf is a formatting issue – it’s easier for people to download .pdf on a wider variety of platforms. I am sure that many teachers who sell on the site would be willing to provide editable copies of their resources so teachers can change it from year to year to meet their individual students’ needs. All you have to do is ask. Additionally, I would be willing to bet that most of the primary-grades teachers on the site would be happy to create a version of the product for you that doesn’t have the overly-flowery-cute design/decoration/what-have you. There is a place on the site where you can request custom products, but also, I think that if you just contact the seller and say, “Hey, I like this concept, but I’d really rather cut out the ‘cute’, can you either send me an editable version or make a version without the funky clip art and fonts,” that they would be happy to do that for you. I can appreciate your point of view, but I have to say that I think the good TpT does outweighs your concerns.

    • Thanks for enlightening me on the fact that TPT sellers dont have problem with sharing the editable version with their buyers!!! As a prospective TPT seller, that is something I will definitely have to let people know on my products! Thanks again.

  286. Sarah says:

    I used to teach kindergarten and I was called out by both colleagues and administrators for not doing the same thing as all the other kindergarten teachers (namely, cutesy-fluffy-cookie cutter type stuff). I was actually APPLYING what I learned in my masters classes but was told to stop it and go back to doing what all the other teachers were doing. Sadly, that stripped me of much of my creativity and I became a TPT junkie for quite some time, even as I went on to teach grades 4-6. I am just now starting to snap back out of this mentality with the demands of common core and trying to get back to teaching creatively and intuitively, without feeling the pressure to do “cute” or be as well-decorated as some of my colleagues. I just truly don’t have the energy to go against my nature and make everything in my room look adorable while trying to create innovative lessons that actually get kids thinking! It is especially difficult around open house time when everyone puts on the dog-and-pony show and I find myself feeling inadequate for all the wrong reasons. How do you handle that particular pressure?

    • Matt Gomez says:

      First of all I am lucky to have a great team. I have been honest with them on the why and how I do things and often we simply do things different. We can teach differently and all be effective in our own way. The bottom line is I answer to my kids and their parents first. My goal is to show our learning daily with parents and that takes a lot of the pressure off of me. I do that with a classroom blog and constant communication. As long as the parents support what you do you will be fine. Also I send this home to parents before school starts. Let them know who you are and why you do what you do up front.

  287. Brea Maurice says:

    I can understand your point, Matt, and I really appreciate all of the discussion. I like TPT. I also don’t like “cute”. When I look at pictures of classrooms that people pin on Pinterest, I can’t believe the amount of time and money that people put into decorating their classrooms, and I don’t understand why someone would pay money on TPT to buy a dressed up version of something that that they could create for themselves in 5-10 minutes. While there is a lot stuff on Pinterest and TPT that I would not buy, there is also some really good stuff. You have to weed out the “busy work”. During the Olympics, I was looking for meaningful activities to do with the Olympics and math, but most of what I found was simply word problems with an Olympics theme…not at all what I was looking for. However, I did end up finding a few real gems. One was series of texts written about various sports in the Olympics and the science involved. Each text was written for two different reading levels. I was able to have different groups read different texts using their reading strategies, and then answer some reading comprehension questions. After the students taught the class about the scientific principles from their texts, and we even experimented with a couple of them. I also found a webquest about Sochi in French, and a series that looked at the real world math of the Olympics. I would not have had access to these resources or information without TPT. These were engaging lessons. They were engaging because, as one does with any good resource, I adapted the resource to my teaching style and my class. Another reason that I like TPT is that I teach French Immersion in Canada. My students speak English at home, but 70-80% of what we do in the classroom is done in French. The resources provided by the district are written for students who speak French as a first language, and because my students are learning French as their second language, the textbooks are often very difficult for the students to understand. I also don’t like teaching only from the textbooks. This leaves me having to create or translate A LOT of resources, including the texts that the students read, or searching for other resources. These resources can be very difficult to find in an English speaking part of Canada. At the teacher store, the French resources for all subjects take up just a couple of shelves, compared to the hundreds of shelves for English resources. Sites like TPT and Pinterest make it much easier for me to find resources and that I can use in the classroom. I don’t use something just because I purchased it. Finding a good French resource is like gold, and so I may buy it because it think it MIGHT be useful, and I file it in Dropbox according to theme. When I am beginning a unit with my class, I look through what I have in the file, and if I think it fits in with what I am doing with my class, I use it.

  288. Beth Coble says:

    I would challenge those of you with problems with TpT to join as a seller at some point just so you have access to the seller’s forums. It’s completely free. You will see posts about how to increase sells and drive traffic. But what you will see more of is teachers freely sharing ideas on how to improve themselves, what they are creating, and their classrooms. I do appreciate you starting this conversation- I wish I had time to read every single reply but you seem to have gotten a LOT of traffic and this gal’s gotta go to work. So here are my thoughts on your thoughts. :)

    #1 Teachers are selling things that work in their classrooms. Things have to be in a PDF to protect copyright for the original seller and the work of any sellers that they used clipart/backgrounds/images/fonts/etc. from. BUT I have not met a TpT seller yet that if you e-mailed them and said “Can I get this changed? I need it like this _____________ to work in my classroom.” that wouldn’t change it for you themselves or send you the original or editable version. There is also this awesome stuff known as a white out that I’ve used to change something before. My other point is that good TpT sellers (there are bad/lazy ones out there) – the TpT sellers that can do this for a living- spend hours crating a product that usually is generic enough to be adapted to any classroom.

    #2- Laminating Culture. You say TpT is “creating” this culture. Well if that is the case shame on teachers for letting them. Just as there are good and bad TpT creators there are good and bad/lazy teachers. If teachers simply use these lessons over and over without making sure they meet the needs of their students because they spent money on them shame on them. That is not the sellers or TpTs fault it is the teacher. I personally feel that teachers that fall into the “laminating culture” would do that whether they spent money on it or got it for free because that is lazy. As several others have said resources you get from TpT should be a starting point to build off of or something you use to supplement your unit. I think that teachers who fall into this “laminating culture” are the same teachers who were in a “basal culture” when I was in school. Teachers who did everything (and only things) from the math book or basal thinking that someone else had already created all of the answers to their students needs. As a teacher I’ve never found a unit in a basal or any other provided text book that didn’t need me to pull my own resources. Just as you can use text books and basals as a starting point or a supplement in your units you can do the same with TpT resources- which are usually more up to date and cheaper than things from Pearson and the like.

    #3 Cute vs Content. Cute can be overrated. I make cute covers for my products so that they are eye catching but you will find very little “cutesy” stuff inside my products. It is all content. I would actually go so far as to say that I don’t think I have any resources where there is clip art (minus math shapes, blocks, etc. that is being used as content) inside any of my products on the pages you would use with students. As far as decorating your classroom- if you want it to be cute go for it. That’s a personal decision. I know that I made sure everything in my room followed a color scheme simply because I spent more time in my classroom than at home. But I will agree that there are teachers who choose cutesy activities over content rich ones and that does bother me. The kids don’t care about “cute” and that is who matters. But I will also point out that the people who make the “big bucks” on TpT are the ones that sell content rich products. Yes they may also have cute covers but if you look at the Top 100 sellers and Top 100 Resources (found at the bottom of the TpT home page if you’d like to check) they are almost all content rich.

    #4 Real images vs. clip art. I agree with you here. I use clip art for some of my covers. But most of the products I buy, use, or sell don’t need real images so it hasn’t been a problem for me., in my humble opinion, has made some great teachers. I think the resources found there are more current and valuable than the things the text book companies produce because they are made by real teachers and can be constantly updated. Had TpT enabled some teachers to take a lazy route? Yes. But I think that if you join in the TpT movement- the one where they are holding conferences for teachers to share ideas; where teachers are constantly trying to help each other become better through discussion and sharing ideas, you’ll see a community that is helping make better teachers and making their lives easier.

    I compare it to cooking. If you constantly take the stuff that is 100% pre-made for you where you don’t have to do any work yourself- example McDonald’s, frozen dinners, etc. your not going to have a healthy outcome. Same with your classroom if you simply take resources from TpT and teach them as is your kids aren’t going to have everything they need. TpT sellers can’t know exactly what every child in every classroom is going to need. But if you go to the store and get some ingredients that are pre-made like a bag of salad, a bottle of ranch, croutons, and some chicken to grill you can have a a healthy meal while saving some time. You didn’t have to chop up the lettuce; make croutons, or ix the ranch. But you did have to cook the chicken. But you’ve got a helathy meal that took less time but still turned out great. Same with TpT- find things that compliment and supplement what you’re planning and use them accordingly while making them your own.

    Now I know you didn’t talk about the money aspect of things but several other people have so I wanted to share my thoughts on that. All of the TpT sellers I regularly work with (and buy from) give most of their ideas for free. Their thoughts and ideas can be found on their blogs where you can take them and make them your own. What they are charging for is the actual time they took taking an idea and making it usable in your classroom. They are saving you hours of sitting in front of a computer and coming up with things yourself and asking for a small fee. If you don’t want to pay that fee then take the idea and make it for your classroom.

    Sorry this was such a long post and thank you again for starting this discussion!

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Thanks for all your comments! The only thing I would disagree with is TpT didn’t make any teachers great. The great teachers are making TpT valuable. ;)

  289. Michele Pizzorno says:

    I agree with you that teachers should be sharing great stuff together for free. However, for the past 20 years, I have spent a large amount of time creating so many things (more time than most teachers and more time than I should have) and given freely all my hard work to my coworkers (all the ones that have come and gone too). In return I get no thanks or collaboration or their own creations, all I get is, “where is the answer key?” For all the years of creating and freely giving my work to others, I feel that it is time for me to make a little profit from my time and sweat.

    I disagree with your idea that TPT encourages lamination and stagnancy, it is actually the opposite. After 20 years, I am always changing things up if not for my students but for my own mental stimulation (I am a workaholic and and have taught 5 different science subjects from basic to AP). I always try to out do myself. So, even though I may be using that one lab over and over again, I am creating new stuff or updating something else, and when I find time, that lab I have used for 10 years will eventually get changed too. Seeing everyone’s creative juices in one place is so stimulating. I am sure you can always ask a creator to send you a copy if you have many changes to make to fit your teaching style, or just retype the work – as long as you just don’t give away the work for free to someone else.

    In addition, I do not feel bad for selling my ideas and purchasing another teacher’s ideas. We all have worked for it and probably more than someone else or more than what is required to do the job, so all of us should be rewarded. I can go to a craft fair and buy a necklace that I can make myself for cheaper, but I am buying someone else’s idea and effort and it helps the economy, supporting small businesses.

    Thanks for the opportunity to have this discussion… and thanks for being a teacher…

  290. Stacy says:

    Although I occasionally use TpT, and I am totally jealous of the teachers who have made GOBS of money, one thing that I highly dislike about it are the fake reviews. Almost everything gets 4 stars — and let’s be honest, some of it is crap. I feel like people give four stars because they are afraid of retaliation. Not all of it is awesome, but you’d never guess that perusing the reviews.

  291. Vikki Parker says:

    Wow! Your post definitely got people talking! I’m a teacher in the UK (4&5 yr olds) and I’ve just discovered TpT. I’ve bought a few things but only things that I was planning to make myself but have better things to do with my time! (E.g. Painting 9 pin boards and decorating them to match the topics I’ll be teaching next year so we can keep the photos of all our great work somewhere!) I’ve also posted a few things for sale myself but they are all things that I’ve already made with my class in mind and thought other people might like too. I completely agree with so many others that you have to start with your own kids and as long as you are thoughtful about what you buy, then it can’t be bad. Pinterest however- I LOVE!!! But again, it’s purely for inspiration and things I can tailor to suit my children.

    I firmly believe that there are 4 types of teachers:- 1- the “I’ve been doing this for 20 years” brigade who change nothing, EVER, because they think that if it worked 10 years ago then it will work now. e.g. A colleague was using a very content driven worksheet that referenced Boyzone (a band popular here in the mid-nineties) and couldn’t understand why her children were not achieving what she wanted out of it. 2- the teachers who truly believe that making their classroom look cute will solve all their issues because the children will love it so much they will just learn everything by looking at pretty walls. 3- the teachers who think a worksheet is the best thing since sliced bread especially if they haven’t had to make it because they have so many good intentions of what they are going to do but actually never do anything and 4- the teachers that start every year fresh and can’t help but change what they do because the kids are not the same as last years.

    Type 1 will not be interested I sites like TpT because it wasn’t around in the 1980’s/1990’s.
    Type 2 love it and turn their rooms into a headache inducing rainbow.
    Type 3 love it too because it makes them look like they know what they’re doing.
    Type 4 use it for ideas and adapt them for their kids.

    I honestly hope that I’m always Type 4, even when I’m 70 and could legitimately say “I’ve been doing this for 45 years”!

    Despite this, every year, I still think “ooh, maybe I’ll be able to use some of my planning from last year”- it never happens. I sometimes glance at it if I’m really stuck for an idea but I’d definitely get bored if I just churned out the same thing every year too- let alone the kids!

    (You got me talking too!)

  292. Jim says:

    Many good points, however I think you are being a little unfair. It seems you aren’t so much against Teachers Pay Teachers as you are against ANY pre-made curriculum resource. I get it – kids change from year to year and no group of students will be the same, but I think you are naive to think that teachers treat students the exact same year after year. There are certain things that work well, year after year, and it doesn’t make teachers bad simply because they don’t recreate every single wheel continually. Some things will always change each year, but at the same time many things will not. You must also be against the big corporate publishing houses too? Pearson? Houghton Mifflin? After reading through some comments it is no wonder teachers who sell on the site feel like you are attacking them…

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Jim, I am not against anyone. One issue I see in education is that when someone disagrees they are automatically thought of as against a certain group. We can be on the same team and have differences of opinion and ideas. My only hope with the post was to get teachers to be thoughtful. Yes I am overgeneralizing on some of it but I have seen everything I posted about in real life. I hope those teachers read the post and reflect. Teachers post things that make me reflect constantly and often I realize I can do things better because of that. I appreciate your comments and the discussion Jim!

      • Jim says:

        I apologize, but you really did not address my concern. To put it bluntly: are you also against the big publishing houses that churn out curriculum resources for teachers/students? If you are, then I’d expect you to change this post to reflect that. From someone who also is not particularly fond of Teachers Pay Teachers, I would expect you to be fair and judicious. If you are OK with the publishers, I can very curious as to why or how they are different.

        I am not criticizing because you are disagreeing – I am criticizing because you seem to be targeting the site while leaving others untouched. I get your style and respect it, but when you go about it this way it just seems like you have ulterior motives.

        For example, if I said “I hate McDonald’s, that’s why I like to make my own food!” Well, ok. Why exactly are you against McDonalds? Are you also against Subway? Wendys? BK? Everyone gets that you like to make your own food, but is your issue with McDonalds or the larger fast-food issue as a whole?

        • Matt Gomez says:

          TpT is very different than big box resources mainly because teachers don’t typically make the decisions on what to use when it comes to Pearson and McGraw Hill. Those are typically district level decisions.

          The reason I singled out TpT is because it has drastically changed how teachers can acquire the daily materials they use. This has been an overwhelmingly positive change. TpT has a lot of value and what I was trying to point out in my post was that there are some drawbacks to be aware of based on real life things I have seen in classrooms. My blog is simply a reflection of my thoughts and I don’t feel the need to compare and rate all the sources teachers can use. TpT is new and unique therefore I had some opinions I wanted to share on the site. Thanks for reading and commenting Jim, I do appreciate those who challenge what I say and do!

  293. rv says:

    i know this is poorly written but….I think its sad that as a community of teachers, we have gone from “share” to limit our selves as we try to modify and make fit what works for your students each year (cute or not), I think that we should be joined togehter to post and give credit for the ideas and downloads… but i found this site and was very very sad to see that WE (not me) are PAYING eachother for our ideas!! what has our teaching compunity become, saddly disapointed,coming accross this site and as i have utilized a few free things (thanks to those teachers) I couldn’t find in my heart to ask a nother teacher to pay for someing that use in my classroom or have spend any time creating!!! i want to give to my fellow teachers & i would only hope the same in return….as the saying rings true (everyones out to make a quick buck) :(

    • jim says:

      I get what you are saying and it is sad, but this is the world we live in. Are you sad to see textbook companies charge for their textbooks? Should Pearson start giving away everything they create because it follows the noble practice of teaching and learning? I don’t think anyone sees their business practice as wrong. Not sure how teachers selling their materials is really any different…

      • Matt Gomez says:

        I never said anything about money or teachers charging for their products. Many people have commented on that but my opinion on the money aspect has always been teachers should get whatever money they can manage to bring in. My post was intended for teachers purchasing from the site to be more thoughtful in the “why.”

  294. I read this post quite a long time back and I am returning to it again now. Earlier I was a teacher, a busy one at that and didn’t take time to leave a comment . I did read through many of the comments and left richer . I choose to comment now, because I plan to start creating resources to sell on TPT. I agree with a point being made about most resources on TPT being in PDF format. In fact, when I read through blog posts about tips for sellers, all of them emphasized saving files as PDFs, and some even went to the extent of locking them so as to make them un-editable.

    One good thing about a PDF is that any fonts that you use need not be present on the users system. But the downside is that you have to use it as-is (many times this is a condition in the license) without being able to make modifications that might be needed for your particular class. I have no qualms with paying for quality material, because people have put in effort to create these materials. But in my experience I have never been able to use anything that I have downloaded from TPT as-is. So right now I am trying to find a way in which I will be able to create resources that can be edited with there being no issues of compatibility.

    On the topic of reusing the same things over and over again: There are some experiments such as sorting magnetic and non-magnetic materials or insulators and conductors that you will definitely have to do year after year. There are only so many ways in which you can package such activities. So having a resource for such activities will only make you a sensible teacher as you can instead focus on how to implement it better – perhaps a different kind of classroom arrangement for this set of students. (Again the issue of editing the resource comes up, as sometimes, you might have to change it according to the implementation!)

  295. Laura says:

    I don’t quite understand what the difference is between buying from TpT’s site and buying from a publisher. Are you against ALL textbooks period? Or just the ones created by teacher entrepreneurs? After all, it’s just as difficult to edit a PDF as it is a Workbook. Is your argument, therefore, that all teachers should create their own work period? And isn’t that essentially TWO careers. Make that THREE careers: (Writer/Creator, editor, teacher). I mean, will the insanity ever end?

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Thanks for the comment Laura. There isn’t a significant difference between buying from TpT and a major publisher and I am not “against” either. The point of my post was to bring up concerns that I was seeing in how the purchased things are being used. I singled out TpT because it is new and changing the dynamics of how teachers find resources. Most of those changes are wonderful, I wanted to point out concerns I had.

      Yes, I do think teachers should create or modify what they find to meet the needs of their students. That isn’t insanity to me, just doing the job. The people creating the stuff are teachers for the most part and they seem to manage fine. I never have had an issue with teachers selling things or people paying for it. My concern is buying months long units to plug and play in a class.

  296. Laura says:

    Just doing the job! I like that. And how many hours does a teacher spend just doing the job?? Whatever it takes?? Period? Schools use textbooks for a reason. I’ve created units that took me 40 to 50 hours of unpaid time. Now imagine trying to create units for every subject area and for every theme presented in a year. I say, buy the unit and modify, and “create” when you can.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      I agree Laura. Buy it, modify it to meet your kids needs, and create when you can. That is exactly what I was saying. My concern is that doesn’t happen often because you cant legally modify many TpT products. If they were all editable I would actually buy some. Especially if they had real pictures of items instead of cartoon images.

      In most jobs people “do what it takes.” I don’t think I have it that bad compared to any other profession. I love what I do and yes I work “extra” hours to make sure it is done correctly. That happens in many professions. That is my outlook, but it has little to do with my concerns about TpT.

  297. Laura says:

    I have wonderful news for you!!!!! But first, let me say this: Public School Teachers teach as many as 30 students at once. In schools for the elite, the average number is between 8 and 12. That’s approximately 3Xs more food on a public school teacher’s plate! And then they come up with: “hey! It’s just doing the job!” It begins to sound corny to someone (like me) who’s been *around*.

    Now for the good news! It will make TpT a cut above any workbook you buy! PDF files CAN be modified. First you convert them to word document and then you modify. Once that’s done just insert your own fotos to substitute the clipart. Before you actually spend your money, ASK a teacher on TpT permission to do this. I’m sure many will say it’s OK for you to modify for your students needs. Some teachers will even gladly make the modifications for you. I, myself, don’t sell on TpT, but I have heard good things.

  298. stephanie says:

    I agree but only to an extent. I download or purchase these items to keep them saved on my computer, “forever”, not to use forever. I like to have options, and the things I do have, will not work for every student (shouldn’t every teacher know that?) But they are good to keep on hand, to always be prepared.

  299. barb says:

    Your article is interesting. The products I sell on TPT are smart board files that are completely able to be edited and adapted to meet the needs of each classroom. Each product takes me between 4 to 5 hours to create. I charge around 5 dollars for each product. That works out to about 1 dollar an hour. Then the website takes their cut, so it’s actually less than a dollar an hour. I know, as a teacher, if someone has already done the majority of the work and all I have to do is tweak it, I am more than willing to spend a little money on it. If what I create can give other teachers more of their free time back, then I feel very pleased.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      Kudos for allowing your products to editable. If everyone did that I think the products value would be incredible.

      I don’t have any issues with teachers making money but I will challenge your math. You only sell a product one time? What happens when you sell a 1,000 or 10,000 copies of a product? Now you are making $1,000 or $10,000 and hour. ;)

  300. cdv says:

    Thank you for this blog. I teach kindergarten and I try to “teach smart, not cute”. Yes, developmentally appropriate, but so much of the ‘cute’ stuff is just that – cute without substance.

  301. Lolly says:

    Agreed cdv – and I appreciate what Matt is saying, let’s be discerning in our choices as teachers. I agree cute is overrated. It speaks more about the personality of the teacher than the needs of the students. I have been umming erring about sharing some of my creations there, but at the end of the day I’m not sure it’s worth it. Everything looks so homogenous, and although I have purchased items on there, it has been a hit and miss experience.

  302. new teacher says:

    Thanks so much for this post! I really love your blog, keep up the great work here!

  303. I’m relieved to find someone that finally says what I feel, that the classroom doesn’t need to have a distinct theme in order to be effective. Not to say I take issue with themes and cute stuff, but I’m going to take more time investing in my planning than in the design of my classroom. Which leads to my frustration when it becomes a point of criticism from “mentors.”

    Also, I respect what you’re saying about TPT I found great things on there but the lack of ability to edit anything is disappointing because it is nice to be able to adjust based on needs. It is a terrible thing when it doesn’t quite hit the mark of what you’re teaching but could be a great activity, or there’s something on it that you don’t need, but hey it is there anyway, and we can’t un-teach once kids see/know it

  304. Sue says:

    I agree with you 100% In our board, we are told to avoid worksheets altogether. So practising math skills by basic addition and subtraction is a waste of time…adding cute apples, Santas or moustaches doesn’t make it a better worksheet. It’s still a worksheet. We are encouraged to ask children to think outside the box. For example… “The answer is 12 cookies” What is the question?

  305. linda says:

    Cute is kitch and lends itself to those teacher-made cookie cutter non-art “art” projects that make art teachers really sad. Cute has nothing to do with the creative spirit of young children. A cute decor is based on a commercial cliche and doesn’t capture a child’s essence. I’ve seen many beautiful well designed classrooms that are devoid of cuteness but are rich in children’s paintings and drawings, natural items such as plants and sea shells and photographs that children love to look at and learn from. Reggio Emilia classrooms are outstandingly beautiful and you won’t see cute cartoon turkeys or polkadot bubble letter signs in there.

  306. karen says:

    Yeah, but sometimes male teachers don’t do anything to their rooms. And it looks terrible. And no one ever says anything because they are “a man”. Then, all of the female teachers always vote for them for teacher of the year. So==you can pull it off not being cute. A lot of the younger teachers are making beautiful puffs and bulletin boards that never change, and the administration is loving it.
    Administration loves super neat and clean rooms with no decorations, so I did mine in black and white with a tiny bit of red. I am a single mom, so, as a teacher, you know I didn’t spend much $ on it. I’m in a newer school (which hardly has any bulletin boards anyway). Our admin. doesn’t even like sea shells or any item sitting around. I do have one plant for oxygen. Matching all of your bins and items is very expensive.

  307. John S. says:

    I believe you are missing the point. Websites like teacher pay teacher are created to help give you ideas and think about you lesson design. And cute works for students especially the little ones and as a male myself I use to think that way also. I encourage you to visit your colleagues classroom whose classroom are “to cute” and see what happens.

    Which brings me to the last point, the fact that you can’t change a document that has been created as a PDF should not stop you from tailoring a lesson to meet the needs of your class. Most of us teachers have to follow a lesson plan and not deviate from the lesson, but enriching a lesson with supplemental material to aide in the students understanding is essential. I mean think about curriculum you currently teach whether it is math or language arts, how often do you find yourself adding a little gravy to the lesson. As long the purpose is to help facilitate understanding what’s the harm in that.

  308. Delia says:

    Matt, after reading some of the comments I had to read the blog post again… lol! However, I think you do make a good point on cuteness. I homeschool my little ones and don’t focus on the cute, mostly because I have a boy and a girl and I don’t think my son would be that into it even if my daughter and I are, but a little color does make some areas of study more exciting and easier to capture my kid’s attention. So, I would think that though at times the “clipart” aspect on TPT resources can go a little over board from time to time, you have to take into prospective that not every single teacher that buys or sells on TPT will introduce “cute” or “color” into all projects or handouts. Thus, a pop of cuteness and color every now and than is OK in my book.

    Also, you are right, teachers selling on TPT do sell products that have worked for their classes. I know this because I’ve done this. Why? because of course all kids ARE different and I just couldn’t find the right lessons for my older child, so I started creating my own, and after finding TPT I thought why not share it, if it works for one of my kids it just might for another child. I believe that’s all that TPT is. I have found some great lessons for free there and has saved me a ton of time on creating my own and money. I say “one” because, I know that I will not use all the same lessons and methods with my second child. One learns and picks everything up super fast and there’s no time for cute, but my second child is more visual and learns with being able to connect the lessons with real life depictions of subjects, which take more time. So, thank you for the link, I hope it will come in handy!

    The “laminating culture” is one of the many reason I homeschool. Someone stated that some teachers just don’t have the creative gene. That’s very true, actually most teachers don’t… and I have to disagree that TPT is creating this, because it’s already out there and “I” believe TPT, for those teachers that are aware of it, gives a great advantage to mix things up and make it NEW, as to not stay in the “laminating culture” phase, usually at a free or a good price knowing your helping teachers educate cuter? kidding… I do mean Better!

  309. teresayaw says:

    I used to teach in the classroom, but am a private reading tutor now. I am part of the laminating culture because I hoard good reading materials, file them meticulously so that I can pull them out at an instant to cover/review a skill that my usually severely learning disabled students need. However, I find all the cutesy fonts, pictures and clip art are a distraction from what I am trying to teach. The kids are overwhelmed by all the sensory input and I have to point and show them where they are supposed to be looking for the content. I think even for typical kids, all of that on a worksheet is distracting. I’m not against cute…just the overdoing of cute. :)

  310. Linda says:

    Well, you do sound a little bit like a sourpuss. I do like teachers pay teachers for SOME things. I do agree that having everything in a PDF prevents me from tweaking it to fit my class and the skills we are working on (I teach first grade), however, there is a plethora of great activities and ideas on TPT. No, not all of them work for me, but I have the choice of choosing what does. I do think the cute and colorful images appeal to the kids, so sorry there, but I don’t agree that the kids don’t notice. I DO like your idea of real images and will be checking out the website, As far as being a laminating culture, I like to laminate the games I purchase on TPT so they will last a long time. I use my own color ink to print them and I would like to have them to use for several years. That said, I only purchase those things that relate to the skills we need to master in first grade. I am selective. You made some good points, but overall, I wonder if you are against all things cute and creative. Your classroom must be boring and uninviting.

  311. Mary says:

    You can have both cuteness and practicality, enriched with student’s original creations. What’s cute to one is annoying to another – that’s subjectivity. I think TPT is a fabulous resource and I have no problem with the ‘cuteness’ – in fact my students love it and comment frequently on the colour and characters. It’s naive to pencil one type of creativity into a box. I don’t perceive it as cuteness, like my students I value the colour it brings to a drab ‘state’ classroom. To TPT creators, I say go for it. Be as cute as you like. If people don’t like it – tough! Nobody is twisting their arm to embrace your creations. As for a laminating culture, try working in a school where you are not allowed a single black-master, nor have access to a photocopier. Those ‘cute’ little owls can fly into my room and decorate my walls any day!

  312. Donna says:

    I have taught Kinder for 22 years and of those years,19 have been Inclusion Kinder. I am constantly changing how I present material and basing instruction on data I have collected on each child. I stay in contact with each one of my parents and strive to meet the needs of the children AND the requirements from the state as well as school district. I say all of that to say, I use TPT to enhance my lessons and give a fresh approach to teaching. I never want to be stagnant or ineffective. I have enjoyed many aspects TPT has brought into my classroom. I do not over theme my room, but make it warm, comfortable and safe. I love finding powerpoints that complement my lessons. I use these on my smart board to bring the world to Mississippi. I do caution new teachers, not all things are appropriate for everyone. I just taught a unit around the world and used some upper level ppts to bring the countries alive for the children. I previewed each one of them and on most of them did not let the whole ppt play, but used select visuals to enhance my lesson. That is exactly like I use TPT…preview everything and select what works best for your students this year. Next years class will look and learn differently. Keep fresh….Love you children…and give them what they need…most of all ALWAYS LOVE WHAT YOU DO.
    Donna in MS

  313. Cathy says:

    I have been working as a second or third grade teacher for 18 years. I have spent countless hours creating my own materials. That being said, time is a limited resource. I’d rather spend my time creating a WebQuest that relates directly to my science project on hatching chicks or examining the process of metamorphosis in particular species of butterflies and frogs than creating a worksheet. This year, a select few sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers has enabled me to spend my time where it counts – in creating things that don’t already exist! I was also able to leave my basal behind and teach exclusively from high quality fiction and non-fiction. The class sets cost me about 8,000 for the year. Some sets are being used in Social Studies, but most is for my reading instruction. After this investment of dollars as well as the investment of time it takes to research lexiles, read the texts, then make a decision to purchase a class set or not, I was always delighted to find accompanying related materials for a very reasonable fee. Teachers Pay Teachers has enabled me to enrich my students’ lives by having a full year exposed to AUTHENTIC literature! (And coincidentally, my reading scores ROCK this year!) Without their help, my 70 hour weeks would be 80, I would be a few steps closer to burn out, and the quality of my instruction would have suffered.

  314. Isabel says:

    Another aspect is that Tpt is not reaserch based. Many teachers like to validate their lesson by saying “but I found it on TpT” Well, not everything is good. Some lessons are terrible and not worthy. Downloading a lesson from TpT does not mean the lesson alignes with the CCSS or had been peer reviewed. My problem with TpT is that some teachers for the sake of time download every lesson they find, without reviwing it with an objective eye.

  315. steve large says:

    I don’t like Wal Mart, so I don’t shop there.

  316. Lydia says:

    Thanks for your thoughts. I actually came across this after a Google search of TPT. I was looking for some further insight. I have used the site and been grateful for some great materials. Usually, however, I find that as I search, whatever I’m looking for just isn’t exactly what I had in mind. I am a stickler for standard alignment (Texas TEKS). I also find myself saying to myself about a dozen times a day “they are five and six” as I try to limit activities that aren’t interactive or busy for busy sake (being real, some days it’s gotta happen). I also strive to meet the needs of my students. Throw of the dice in Kinder, last year I had a batch that wasn’t ready for stuff my group this year mastered before Christmas. With that being said, I make almost all my own materials. I was hoping to put some out there on TPT, but realized NONE of the files I’ve created are even close to “cute” enough. I had the thought that I should purchase some clip art and gain license to some scrolls and bubbles fonts to become marketable. Thanks for bringing me back down to Earth. The cute is in the kids, they don’t need any help with that. I do think TPT does something great for educators. Our craft, talent, and expertise is being valued and presented as a lucrative industry. Teachers have been working their tails off since the beginning of time, and a little compensation in the name of cooperation is pretty cool.

  317. Jenna says:

    Matt I think you NAILED this! I am a “seller” on TPT, however, I do not OWN, nor will ever own a clipart catalog of stick figured-chubby cheeked-smiley kids. (AND I’m a preschool teacher and a mom of 2 girls! {{GASP!!}}). The stuff I make or made and put on TPT have mostly normal fonts with maybe a border and it’s in black and white. I refuse to buy anything on there that isn’t available in a b&w version. I think it’s a waste of ink (as a consumable)…center type stuff, or things that will be put on the wall for a few years…I get that. It’s the stuff that is printed in ink, destroyed in 5 minutes and thrown in the trash that gets me.

    I am practical, and I have a lot of fun with my preschoolers without the cutesy-artsy hand outs. Through interaction and engaging them. However, I recognize, as I walk down the hallway, that I am part of the few that think the same as I do. :)

    Carry on. ;)

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  319. L. Bland says:

    I don’t agree with anything you said. TPT is like any other shopping experience. Buy it if it will work for you or don’t buy it if it won’t. Teachers, like me, work very hard on our own time when we create our own materials. So your’re saying you have never bought a work book or other classroom materials from a store??? Why not get those materials from a real teacher that has used them and know they work? Teachers use the site to share their activities and supplement their incomes. There is nothing wrong with that. And children love colorful activities as mine always talk about the “pretty colors” and fun pictures. Children are not boring and there activites shouldn’t be either.

  320. Hannah Braun says:

    I think it’s great that you tweak your materials every year to meet the needs of your kids. I don’t know how you have enough time or energy, though. I tried to do that for several years (at a school with no math curriculum) and found myself at school every weekend and spending lots of my time at home and over the summer. Eventually I left teaching because I had no life outside of the classroom and I was neglecting my own children.

    Teachers aren’t paid enough to be curriculum designers. In the perfect world schools would be buying all the materials their teachers needed but obviously that’s not happening. I think TpT provides a cheap way for teachers to build up their choices of teaching materials while maintaining a healthier work/life balance. Maybe if I had discovered TpT a little earlier I would still be in the classroom.

  321. Barbie says:

    I disagree. I don’t believe buying or creating on TPT will work for every child or every class. I believe it’s how you use the resource that matters. We all know our students and chances are if we’re spending what little money we make on a TPT or a Lakeshore resource we have determined based on our class it will probably be effective. It is presumptuous to think teachers will take the lazy and easy way out each year. As an avid seller and buyer I take and make requests to change any resource to fit yours or my students that year. Even if the seller will not or cannot alter it I have a “starting point” and can change it in my own way. I understand it’s not for everyone, but why publicly speak out against it? Just make the choice to not go on the site.

  322. Dear Mark, Thank you so much for this!

    I, too dislike teachers pay teachers. I don’t mind cute but i mind it when i am in an ICT classroom and there is just too much going on.

    Last year i was an ICT teacher and was scolded for having backing paper that was not plain — it was jungle leaves and under the ocean– and most were to be covered with the word wall or celebration wall. When i see tie ICT teachers and their classrooms now and everything is cutesy this and glitter that, i get dizzy. why was i frowned upon for jungle leaves and under the ocean paper but they get the thumbs up for breaking out their credit cards for TPT or their CRICUT machine!??

  323. Lexi says:

    I think this is great!! I have recently left the world of private school education because my money- loving director was allllll about cuteness of the classroom and didn’t even know what I was teaching on a day-to-day basis. Another teacher, who I loved dearly, didn’t really differentiate for her students, but spent a lot of time on Teachers Pay Teachers because she couldn’t come up with one lesson plan idea on her own!! My director loved her because her room was cute, but had no idea that her children weren’t really learning concepts in her class. Meanwhile, I spent hours on lesson planning and creating games/activities for my kids while she kept everything neat tidy and perfect. I have no problem if one is using the TPT for an additional resource, but I don’t believe anything on there should be used as the soul of the lesson. You still have to be able to implement the lesson and make the connections first, not just read them a book about the topic and hand them a tic-tac-toe game one found on TPT. Just my opinion, but I have also worked at other schools where “dittos” and photocopying lessons were not allowed and I found the teachers there to be so much more creative and relatable to the kids that way. Again, just my opinion. I do what works for me, I just wish other people would not judge a room with a little whiter walls because the teacher is focusing everything on what the students are spending their time doing, not how the teacher’s decorating her walls.

  324. Beth says:

    Couldn’t agree more. With ALL your points. I have definitely used products on TPT though. Basically, if I have to do centers, that’s where I head. I personally don’t think centers is the only (or even the best way) to teach literacy–I think a workshop model is more student-centric–but I’ve been required to have centers in years past and TPT sure beats making your own. It’s not worth the time to create that stupid crap. So yes, you are right: we use them over and over because they’re easy.

    That being said, I think it’s great that people want to make some money off the resources they’ve created. Good for them for trying to make a little more money. And as someone who has spent 5 bucks on pre-made centers, I can tell you it was more than fair for the time it saved me. Whoever thinks teachers should give all of that away for free isn’t being fair. Teachers don’t get paid enough.

  325. Brittany says:

    Yes! Kids need real photos! We don’t live in a cartoon world.. the kids watch enough cartoons as it is!

  326. abby says:

    Teachers pay teachers is great. I want to sell all the things I have made on the site. It would be nice if you could edit (not in PDF), but you can just recreate your own if you want to do that. Meaning, you can get ideas and then make your own! I don’t know how to make the cutesy stuff (but I do like it). That is actually what makes me unsure I can list my items on there. As far as a “laminating culture”–if you are going to be that teacher, you can do it with or without TPT. Or, you can use good judgement. Lots of teachers offer great differentiated activities on TPT and many are FREE. Agreed, each classroom culture is different, but at some point you do, and should, have a common expectation. Effective teachers can take a TPT item and still accommodate for certain students on the fly. I think your opinion is a little over the top…like you are trying to hard to be a better teacher than others and make an issue out of a non-issue.

  327. June says:

    I think you make some good points; however, I disagree that the kids don’t notice how the room looks. Case in point; I always hung fall leaves and scarecrows from the ceiling in the fall, snowflakes in the winter, and flowers in the spring. Well 2 to 3 years ago we were told that we couldn’t hang anything from the ceiling and it all had to be taken down. The next day my third graders walked in and were very saddened by this. They said it made the room feel cozy. I couldn’t believe how it affected them. My students notice and use the anchor charts we make together that are hung up in the room and I make them look appealing (cute). As for teachers pay teachers, I have found many useful materials to enhance what I am teaching. To someone who said that they teach what their students are interested in, that’s great. However, in NJ we have a curriculum we must follow. So if Matter is the science topic, I have to teach it no matter the student’s interest level.

  328. Michelle K. says:

    Yes! So glad somebody came out and said this. I die a little inside every time I have to put up with a “cute” theme/activity/unit plan somebody else made/is using. I am a special ed. teacher so most of what I do is adapting curriculum designed by others and I really hate it when I get stuck with a big TPT unit and I have to find a way to shoehorn my kids into it.

    Love your site. Thank you!

  329. Anne Merritt says:

    TPT – just doesn’t feel right … The site came up in “pins for you” email. Originally, I thought it was a way to trademark teacher’s original work. As I explored further, I wouldn’t pay for anything on the site; not to say that they aren’t good as I have same issues that others here have stated. Due to the fact that you can’t see some of the detail until you pay for them, this becomes a frustrating site to comb through looking for something that will help spark an idea. I prefer educational journals and free educational favorite sites. It should all be free, even though I could use the extra cash – I don’t like the idea of giving someone else a cut for my work. I’m always reviewing to find new/great resources for teachers, thank you for posting this discussion, I was lucky enough to find it.

  330. Jackie says:

    Dear Matt,

    Please go back to teacher those students with different needs instead of putting a meaningless discussion about glitter and flair that some teachers enjoy for the sake of enjoyment. TPT isn’t needed to be a highly qualified teacher what we needed is more advocates for teachers and more resources readily available for us to do our jobs. TPT certainly helps this process for many teachers and there isn’t anything wrong with that. When common cores lurks over us I find that many times with a little time to search I can find differentiated activities to meet the needs of my students on TPT. I have 2 with IEP and 4 with ADHD and 22 amazing kids. Teachers don’t need post like this. Now let’s all get back to teaching kids! I realize that I shouldn’t even response to this but honestly since I wasted 10 minutes of my time reading this post already when I was looking for something on TPT that is for my 2 students with IEP’s I might as well get in some debating practice.

    Team Teachers!

    P.S. My kids LOVE the glitter in my classroom because with the glitter and the owls comes respect and love and a family they will never forget!

    Your fellow Teacher,


  331. sthomas64 says:

    I am sure there may be some out there who laminate and toss the items in a center to be used the same way each year, but it has been my experience that most teachers use these resources in different ways to meet the needs of the students in their classrooms at the time. I have some task cards that are more than 15 years old that I use every year and the children love them. Some years they are used as an independent center for practice, some times they are used for small group instruction and practice, another year they are used for a whole group practice, and often they are used for review activities for the children they will benefit most. Choosing to purchase or create materials to laminate and use year after year does not mean a teacher is ignoring the changing needs of students. Very often, the creativity comes in HOW the materials are used.
    I agree we need to be careful of just purchasing and using materials without being certain they meet the needs of our students.

  332. Jeanette Hildwine says:

    My problem with TPT is that everything is given a 4 star rating. I find it hard to believe that out of 255 people who downloaded an item not one person had a single problem with something in the product. No one is being honest with the reviews. If you are getting something for free that’s different. You don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. However, if you are paying for something can’t people be honest.

  333. Bridget says:

    I agree with you that there does need to be more real photos used in TpT products. The problem is copyright issues can make it hard to find pictures we can use and it can also be very expensive to purchase pictures. You said you use, correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems just a way to find pictures, but you still have to worry about copyright issues. Do you know any other sites where teachers can use pictures cheaply and legally? Thanks for the help.

  334. Tessa says:

    When I began selling on TPT it was because I had been moved from Kindergarten to 4th grade Science (BOO!) and I was HAVING to make things to meet the curriculum so why not share them and maybe make a little extra, and believe me they were not “cute” lol! But my thought on buying from TPT is I would rather give my money to a hardworking teacher than a big name company (for those “cute” products) I don’t think cute is necessary but I like it! My son’s 1st grade teacher was a man this year and I sometimes lamented the lack of cute! BUT my son made AMAZING progress so I would say it was one of the best teachers ever! Content should ALWAYS come first!

  335. Anonymous Turtle from Grade 10 says:

    I know somebody’s probably already told this, but “I’m unable to edit anything that’s on PDF” is a very stupid thing to say. I’ve been using a FREE pdf editor for years, and I am a student not a teacher.

    • Matt Gomez says:

      I guess I am one of the few people that will respect copyright of the person that created the PDF. It isn’t an issue of ability, they have to give you the right. Maybe you should register for Copyright 101 while in school… or Manners 101.

  336. Courtney says:

    I find this conversation fascinating and I could read it for hours! I thought I would put in my two cents. I have spent A LOT of money on TPT and I am definitely an advocate for it. However, I wish I could go back and tell first-year-teacher-me some things that people have mentioned. I definitely regret some of my purchases on TPT- those made based on hype surrounding the seller or “cute” clip art. I have also found some absolutely amazing things for my classroom- ideas I NEVER would have thought of on my own that have changed the way I teach for the better. I do agree with you on real life images over clip art, but many top TPT sellers are beginning to incorporate this. I have tried to find pictures even close to as cool as the ones on their products and they cost a ridiculous amount of money. I feel like I am getting my money’s worth when I buy a product that contains dozens of real, high quality photographs that the creator, and not me, paid for. I am a first grade teacher and do think that cute clip art can up the engagement level for kids that age- throw some Lego or Frozen clip art on task cards and I guarantee my kids will be more excited about doing them. Clip art is not the end all be all though, and not in itself worth a ton of money unless the activity behind it is substantial. And I do have to staunchly disagree with the “cutesy room” aspect- again, in 1st grade, I love them to walk in and have their eyes pop out because they are so excited to be there and learn. It definitely does not have to cost too much either- I print most of my decor from TPT. :) But, as others mentioned, YOU as the teacher need to be happy with your room- we spend so much of our time there. Thank you for inspiring so much discussion with your post, even though I am a little late to the party!

  337. I think you have started such a great conversation! I am a recent convert to loving TPT. I used to agree, but now agree to disagree on some points. I think you can like it for these reasons or despite of them. Here are my thoughts:

    Thanks for sharing your honest opinion and I will be reading more from you!

  338. Gerre Jech-Galvin says:

    I have been teaching for twenty-five years and in all those years, I have been lucky to have had a few teachers very generously share their materials with me in high school and then later in college. However, for the most part, my experience has been that many teachers do not usually share materials that they have developed by themselves when they have put in many hours of work in creating a handout or lesson plan for their class. I have always thought that if teachers were rewarded or compensated for their curriculum development and classroom lesson planning, then maybe there would be more sharing, and TPT has shown that this is true. I really like this web site and I have chosen to upload some of my lesson plans and activities for ESL classrooms (high school and adult) which i have worked on and perfected over the years, and I feel good about sharing them with other teachers. The small amount of compensation for the work is a wonderful feeling of value for my work and efforts. It is not making me rich, but it is making me a better teacher because I want to only put out the best of my work to share and I am even more highly motivated to keep improving my lesson ideas and activities in my classroom. I would still be creating these great lessons and activities, but by publishing them, it has made me go over them with a polishing cloth that I might not have found the time to do before because I am working so much in my classes and balancing my family responsibilities.

    TPT is evolving and they are still working out the glitches, but overall, it is an exciting new venue for teacher resources and to showcase teachers’ creativity, ingenuity, hard work and wisdom.

    A few thoughts from an educator who is still passionate about teaching after all these years.


    Gerre (California)

  339. Rosamundi says:

    Boy, I agree with you! As for those teachers that decorate their classrooms to a hilt, I look at the classrooms and think they must be a bit insane. Who has time for all that? How much time are they spending away from home, and at home, creating all those matching labels, etc? I worry that there is no differentiation between work and home life. All that decorating has to bleed into family time! Also, I teach at a huge district and never know when my room will be changed. I have never spent more than 2 years in a given classroom. I agree,all that decorating is to impress other teachers and parents. Secondly, I hate cute. To a student who behaves cute it means: i can act younger and dumber than everyone else and get away with not doing as much work, following rules, etc. I tell my students, “Don’t act cute; I hate cute. Act age appropriate.” Cute encourages all sorts of discipline problems….

  340. Lori Van Gorp says:

    If you have time to create everything new every year then power to you. I change grade levels often, try new projects every year and change many aspects before during and after. Sometimes I do create the project from scratch but sometimes I am so thankful that there is an intro smart board lesson that I can use to spark interest already made for me. Instead of hours put into that I have saved the time to make in inquiry student driven work accessible. I started teaching before the internet and I spend so much money on books that I only wanted 1-2 things out if. I am so greatful for the variety I can choose from now. If you don’t line cute I guarantee there are similar products without the cute. And there are many products that are editable, thank you teachers for sharing your materials and I am more than happy to pay you for your time. I don’t claim to be the best teacher in existence and I am glad that I have this resource to help me out!!!!!

  341. I read this article while I was still in college and loved it. Now, I teach kindergarten and love this article even more. I will admit I use TPT for a lot of materials but I search for a long time for editable products or for ideas. My classroom was set up to be welcoming and educational, not cute. I thank your article for reminding me of the importance of meeting my students’ needs. I come back to read this article all the time when I need to reflect on what I am doing in my class! I think YOU should sell products on TPT that do what your article address! I know I would buy them!! Enough of the clip art!! :)

  342. Male RN says:

    I am not a teacher and I normally don’t care about negative feelings posted on a blog but as I stumbled upon this post I read time and time again how you all hate the PDF formats and lack luster images in the products. As a non-teacher I’ll add that you should write your own curriculum then. In school when my teachers didn’t like the math problems they didn’t through out the copyrighted book, they used similar ideas to synthesize and make things appropriate for us students. Reference the pictures, you do realize just as you are complaining about not being able to change things in the PDF, these TPT writers then are paying royalties or purchasing from shutterstock for fancy pics you want, driving up the costs to you or they pay the free or nominal fee to use clip art to get the point across so you as a bitchen teacher can use the material to knock the socks off your students.

    In the end, don’t buy it if you don’t like it. I however had seen some neat ideas on there from people with more creative brains than I.

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