Back to School Basics: Don’t Recreate the Wheel

I can’t tell you how many times I recreated the wheel as a teacher. I’d spend hours developing a worksheet, or labor over making sure I had all of the information for a form and then a colleague would say, “Oh I could have sent you one that I use!” or I see a teacher-friend on social media post a link to an online resource that was exactly what I needed. It’s frustrating to be sure. So, before you take your precious time to create a resource that already exists… check with the teacher next door, ask your friends, or look online. Make a pledge to yourself that this is the year you become more efficient and make use of your amazing colleagues who have blazed the trails before you.

If you school doesn’t already provide you with tracking forms, lessson plan templates, or conference planners, I’m sharing with you here some amazing, FREE options that are available online. The best part – these are forms that you can type directly into.

  • Student Tracking Forms: With daily, weekly, or class period options in addition to a completely blank form for you to customize, you can easily track everything from attendance to homework to lunch orders.
  • Lesson Plan Templates: Includes 6 format options: Snapshot Lesson Plan, Weekly Lesson Plan, Traditional Lesson Plan, Self-Contained Classroom Daily Plan, Thematic Planner, Unit Planner
  • Parent Conference Planners: Six different planning templates to help prepare for parent-teacher conferences: Traditional Parent Teacher Conference,  Referral for Student Services Conference, Portfolio Review Conference, Student-led Conference (teacher planner), Student-led Conference (student planner), and Parent Planner

Looking for something more specific? There are thousands of amazing teacher-created materials out there online – and many of them are free! Here are some excellent sources that I check when looking for resources:

P.S. While you’re browsing those resources, you may start thinking to yourself, “Hey, I have great lessons of my own!” Why not take some time to format the lessons and create your own shop on one or more of these sites. Don’t be intimidated – you don’t need hundreds of lessons (although you certainly go that route if you’re inclined).  Personally, with 21 products in shops on Syllabuy and Teachers Pay Teachers, I earned about $500 last year. That was enough to take the family on a weekend getaway – just by sharing things I had already created for my own use! So, while you’re looking to avoid recreating the wheel in your classroom and saving yourself some time – why not get your ideas out there and do the same for someone else… and make a little cash too.

Teachers Turn to Udemy for Passive Income

In 2015 many school districts in my area [New Jersey] are paying their teachers less money now than they did five years ago. These educators find themselves with increased bills, but less pay. As a direct result educators are seeking extra income wherever they can. Most educators are seeking ways online to add to their income. Many have taken advantage of becoming online adjunct professors or producing some kind of content. One of the ways educators are adding revenue is by creating courses on Udemy.

Udemy is a website that allows anyone to join and “teach” a course. Generally, the courses should be between 30 to 60 minutes to be most enjoyable for students. Once you’re approved as a premium instructor you can charge any amount you’d like for each course. For example, if you’re a geometry teacher you could create a Udemy account and sell each lesson you do throughout the year. Let’s say you are presenting new content 100 days out of the school year. You could create 100 separate courses and if you charge $5 per class, assuming a new user joins on your referral you will be paid $500 if a new user takes one course each.

Once you register for Udemy you start creating a course using their dashboard. They ask that you feature 60% video content [meaning only 40% of your content can be non-video]. The videos produced must be your own content, so there are no “rights issues.” Ideally, your videos should focus on the content you’re looking to teach. You’re able to provide a large bit of content, including offering quizzes to test the users’ knowledge on your course content.

To be successful using Udemy educators should create an advertising network to get their courses out to the public. Udemy has a large number of users, however, you only receive 50% of your earned revenues if current Udemy or future Udemy users pay for your course. When you solicit a new user you receive 100% revenue for the first course they take, but it goes down to 50% thereafter. Udemy even helps you advertise to a degree by asking you to produce a teaser video for your course. This teaser video should be posted on YouTube for all of your followers to see. You should inform all of your Twitter followers, Facebook friends, Google+ friends, etc. that might be interested in pursuing your course. Doing this with every course will eventually result in someone finding an interest. The more courses you create, the more likely you will continue to earn a strong income from Udemy.

Udemy has to approve your course before you are able to start earning from it. Udemy checks to make sure you are following their rules and procedures before you are able to publish your course and earn some more revenue. Once you’ve had one course published it should be fairly easy going forward to have courses approved the first time, so nothing needs to be re-done.

Udemy is a strong source of potential revenue, but results vary based on topic, production of the course and many other factors. Producing a strong course, that is interesting and TEACHES the content it is meant to convey will be the best way to earn a passive income that will be helpful now and in the future. Udemy even has a video to help you produce your course. There are also a number of eBooks available online that can provide you with interesting ideas for growing your Udemy classroom and earning more revenue for producing a strong course. Be sure to try any and all recommendations to see what works for you and what may not. Results may vary and you shouldn’t expect producing courses on Udemy to replace your teaching position.