Classroom StoriesInstructional Applications

Never Say Never

So, I’ve done the thing I thought I would never do

I’ve bought resources off Teachers pay Teachers. Yes, I have. A. Lot. Of. Them.

When teaching, much like raising a child, never say never. Along with buying resources off TpT, last night I fed my toddler a happy meal in order to bribe her into her car seat.

But enough with my failure as a parent, back to Teachers pay Teachers. As a curriculum specialist (currently a teacher), it was almost a bad word, right up there with worksheets. So, why did I do it? One word:Time.

I didn’t have the time to build the resource I needed and there are so many to choose from on TpT that I could select what fits my needs. TpT is not a bad community- in fact- it’s a community of support and teachers need more of those. And, I get it, teachers should be rewarded for all the hard work they put into the resources they build. But, I think we need to reassess where we are in education. I want to be a part of a community of support; but, I want to be a part of an OPEN community.

So what could that community look like? It could have as many users as TpT and as many resources, all available to every user at no cost and here is the kicker- all licensed in a way that users can revise, remix, and reuse in a way that best meets their students’ needs.

Now, it’s not going to happen overnight, and it’s not going to happen unless we use, contribute, and share with our community. “If they come, we will build it” a phrase often uttered by Donna Murray, our NCDPI Digital Content Specialist, as she is marketing the #GoOpenNC platform. An open education community must be built by the users, supported by the users, and maintained by the users, it’s not a “top down” curriculum.

I’m a Biology teacher. How many Biology teachers are there in our state, district, school? Why would we all be creating the same thing times 10,000 or more? Why not use that collective knowledge and build upon it, personalize it for our classrooms, and create authentic experiences for our students? That’s what open education is all about, sharing creativity so that everyone has equal access and voice.

So, if you’re a district person, I know what you are thinking– “Oh, great, another source of unvetted worksheets not aligned to the cognitive demand of the standard” (That was for you, Robin : ) But the quality of a resource isn’t determined by the degree of vetting or how spectacular it is. The quality of a resource is determined by the degree to which it supports learning. I might share a so-so worksheet that someone else takes and makes an amazing inquiry-based project and re-shares it with me! Maybe if I didn’t share that worksheet, they would have never had the idea for the project. It’s not about every resource being “vetted” or spectacular, it’s about the resource that supports learning for your students.

So, I’m sharing my resources, will you?

For the biology teachers out there, I just shared this lesson (with open resources linked) to the site. Also, if you are interested in how to use the site to curate resources, here is a little tutorial I created. See you there!

FYI: There is still work happening behind the scenes in preparation for a statewide “launch” of the GoOpenNC site on December 16, 2019. If you have any questions, please email

Leslie Carriker is Science teacher from North Carolina that considers herself a global citizen, learner, educator, science lover and Creative Commons licenser.