The other day, Bill Ferriter (@plugusin), a great thinker and instigator stoked my fire (once again) when he posted a thought about teachers being "ashamed" to profit off our expertise. He bothered me because he was right. It seems to be a common Feeling in education that our expertise shouldn't be treated as value in the same way that the rest of the world works... why not?
Out of my core group of childhood (and still 6 extremely close) friends, I am the only educator. 5/6 of them currently get paid to think and provide advice & consultation based on the expertise they've gained from being a "do-er" for over a decade early in their careers. They get paid good money to share their expertise. Not one of them, at their transition stages or any other point, though "Oh, I'm not sure I should be rewarded for just telling people what I've learned along the way." As teachers, then, why should we?
1. Modeling - The key component of our daily work revolves around selling to kids the idea that "knowledge is value". We are charged (and accept) with demonstrating how to learn and why it's important to learn. Why then are we not charged with modeling how to use that knowledge in a valuable manner? What better way to show students that we are not full of crap than to monetize our brains when the opportunity presents itself?
2. Too Late - By definition, as teachers, we are ALREADY gaining from our expertise in our subject matter. We've spent hours and years (and will continue to) learning the subject matter that we expose our students to each day. We get paid by our schools to do this. So... we're already benefiting and profiting from expertise. Now, as a result, we are becoming experts in other fields (like classroom management, technology integration, assessment, etc...) along the way. How is profiting off of this any different?
3. Professional Responsibility - The market is the market. If there is a demand (being baited with money) for something, someone will find a way to fill that demand. The best available will be the best available. If we as teachers don't enter the market, then the "best available" will be filled by non-educators. The "best available" will seem great because it's the best that's out there... for sale. However, if we want to be viewed and respected as experts, then we need to be the "best available" and nobody is going to take time to look for something better that's not for sale.
4. Give Back to Your School - Likely, we've gained expertise in education as a result of many resources and support that our employer has provided for us (I know I have). If we allow ourselves (our brains and experiences) to become a commodity, our school will in turn become a commodity. The more we are publicly recognized (monetarily or otherwise), the more our school is recognized and the more our students gain from attending our school and our classes.