Words of Wisdom #1: Teacher Sharing and “Stealing”


Teacher sharing and “stealing”… a prescription to increase teacher effectiveness (and to avoid burnout).

TEACHER SHARING – As you continue in your career, you will do some things really well, and when you do, share them. We are a profession, and that is what professionals do. When doctors discover cures, they tell other doctors so more people can get well. When teachers discover effective management strategies, teaching techniques, grading protocols, home-school communication methods, and any of those other great things we do that help our students grow academically, socially, and emotionally, teacher sharing is truly a moral responsibility.

True Story: A Lost Legacy

The story is told of a third-grade teacher in a small K-8 school whose students all mastered fractions. This teacher had developed a way to explain and teach fractions so that the most math-challenged child grasped the concepts and mastered the skills of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions. If a newly transferred student was found to be struggling with fractions, he or she was referred to after-school study sessions with the third-grade teacher; and a few study sessions later, that student was up to speed. But after 25 years of teaching, the teacher retired and moved to Florida. And no one at the school ever knew what she did or how she did it to achieve such wonderful results. How sad! She missed the opportunity to leave an ongoing legacy.

Teacher Sharing Method #1: Informal Sharing

You can begin to leave your legacy by sharing things that work with other teachers in your school. Informally with a teacher friend after school is one place to start; at a grade-level or department meeting is another.

Teacher Sharing Method #2: Idea Swaps

Next, consider teacher sharing through a “teaching ideas swap session” in your school system. How I loved it when the new English Language Coordinator for our school system sponsored one of these as an elective concurrent one-hour session in our beginning-the-year subject area staff development day! It worked like this:

  1. The right to participate was 30 hard copies of a lesson plan and materials that worked well for you plus a one-page description of the lesson, its benefit(s), and any special advice about the teaching of it.
  2. Participants submitted their materials an hour before the designated swap time and received a special ticket allowing them access at the designated hour.
  3. The monitor for the session then organized and laid submitted materials out on tables within the room – you could read the one-page blurb about the materials offered to see if they might work with your students and curriculum.
  4. At the designated session time, those of us who had an admission ticket returned to select up to 30 sets of materials from a veritable treasure chest of ideas.

I got some great ideas there! And I learned that a colleague took a copy of my Greek Morphemes lesson plans and used them for years. Check if your school district ever sponsors a “teaching ideas swap” session to promote teacher sharing, – and if not, find the person who is in charge of system-wide staff development days and ask them to consider adding this type of activity.

Teacher Sharing at Conferences

At the National Science Teachers Association, teachers engage in content-specific sessions and hands-on learning. Conferences provide opportunities to share and “steal” effective teaching methods.

Teacher Sharing Method #3: Conferences

From there, consider more formal teacher sharing through presentations at state-wide conferences of national organizations. In order to share, you’ll need to belong to the designated organization, submit a proposal for your presentation, and attend the conference. Click on the links below to learn more about some of the most popular teaching conferences!

The fact is that you will gain great credibility as a professional teacher for sharing in all of these ways – AND you will have the pleasure of knowing that your influence is expanding beyond your own classroom. Through teacher sharing, your teacher effectiveness is being multiplied.

And now for the “stealing” part…


No need to reinvent the proverbial wheel. Chances are someone in your building has an idea you could really use – and the best way to find out is to ask – and sometimes just look. Years ago a colleague stopped in my room after school and admired my Animal Farm bulletin board. As we were teaching the name novel but to different students, she asked if she might copy some of my images. Surely. And in return, she offered me copies of a vocabulary crossword puzzle she had developed. Win-win!

Teacher Stealing Methods

Today there are many websites where you can go for ideas.  For instance, check out Scholastic’s  “25 Best Website for Teachers” to find resources for anything from the best bell ringers to the best craft projects. Or you can “buy” (not “steal”) resources from Teachers Pay Teachers.

Now, as for that “avoid burnout” thing mentioned at the beginning, the three categories of burnout symptoms are low morale, low self-esteem, and physical exhaustion (Roloff & Brown, 2011). Do you see the connections how teacher sharing and “stealing” can help alleviate all three?

Until next week – may you experience success in all your academic endeavors!


Roloff, M.E., & Brown, L.A. (2011). Extra-Role Time, Burnout and Commitment: The Power of Promises Kept. Business Communication Quarterly, 74 (4), 450-474.