The practice of teachers buying for their own classroom is a multi-million dollar industry in the US and UK.
If Woonona High School teacher and The Wheel founder Michael de Main has his way, his educational marketplace for teachers, tutors and students, will reach the same lofty standards in Australia.
“Despite Australia being fairly new to this concept, our teachers will spend up to $5000 per year of their own money to beautify their room or to improve their classroom activities,” he said.
“Public schools are limited in the resources each classroom can have that teachers are developing entrepreneurial skills and are crafting a whole new teacher business.
“Some are using their seller popularity to become social media influencers.”
Mr de Main points to Western Australia teacher Hannah Girling, whose missgirlingsclassroom Instagram page has over 43,500 followers.
He said the use of YouTube and Instagram was increasing rapidly.
“It is not just Eddie Woo who has found fame on these platforms,” Mr de Main said.
“There are a lot of teachers in NSW and all over the country who are using YouTube as well. It is another means to get their persona out there to help other teachers.
“There is also financial gain from it and a lot also sell resources as well and they run blogs and YouTube and that sort of thing to develop a brand I guess to become well known in education.”
Mr de Main said while some teachers were “apprehensive and nervous”, there was nothing in the Department of Education guidelines stopping them from buying and sharing resources.
“Teachers are now using educational marketplaces to boost their income, rather than the age-old after-school tutoring,” he said.
“The profession has changed a lot in the 15 plus years since I started and NESA [NSW Education Standards Authority] has not kept up.
“The new accreditation system is a prime example as it does not factor into account the amount of time and research that is needed to develop entire units of work, class tests, activities, classroom themes or worksheets that teachers are selling.
In fact, many teachers are told that selling educational materials is not secondary employment or considered as important as tutoring.Michael de Main
“These may not even be used in their own classroom. NESA does not consider these skills as expanding a teacher's leadership or as extra hours of experience.
“In fact, many teachers are told that selling educational materials is not secondary employment or considered as important as tutoring.”
The Wheel, which has been running since last June, also provides a “safe place” for students to upload and sell their work without having to place their email address on a social media post or to deal with transactions and bank account details.
Mr de Main said current Year 12 students would prefer to purchase notes from a previous Band 6 student than buy a textbook.
“As a teacher and year adviser, I spend time with my students teaching them how to use Instagram and Facebook business accounts, how to promote yourself,” he said.
“Selling class notes is a means to teach students graphic design skills, advertising, promotion, social media influencing, finance, and ICT skills while they build and develop their own notes for their own studies.”