It's Me Again, Margaret...

December 2010

Going Pro

with Presentation and Content


      The way I see it, teacher is a collective noun.  Each of us is a scholar with back-up expertise in psychology, diplomacy, law enforcement, and the latest technology. We are adept planners and organizers.  Our salaries belittle the fine-tuned theatrical skills we employin delivering award-winning classroom performances every day from scripts that we author.  We are a host of professions gathered into one word. 

    And now, thanks to TpT, we have the opportunity to share our collective artistry with thousands of colleagues and to be recognized and compensated for our efforts! 

     As we delve into this new realm, however, it's important to understand that lifting a lesson plan from a classroom setting and offering it for world-wide purchase raises the bar.  Our products, from a one page item to a year-long program, must meet the strictest standards required of all professional publishers, for indeed, that is what we are.  Our new opportunity has added another layer to the concept of teacher.

    We definitely have some steep learning curves ahead of us as publishers, but we can meet the challenge.  All we need do is focus on two concepts we already understand -- PRESENTATION and CONTENT. 


"May I have your attention, please?"


       Like our students, potential TpT customers tend to mill around, stopping to look only when they spot something interesting.  We certainly know how to take advantage of this basal behavior in the classroom.  We can duplicate that skill in cyberspace with a color-saturated, informative cover page-the internet equivalent of "May I have your attention, please?" and/or a head-turning visual drum roll. 

     Need vivid proof that a cover page is a necessity?  Compare the "Featured Publisher-Created Items" and the "Featured Teacher-Created Items" on TpT's homepage.  The seasoned professionals are making it perfectly clear. Our products are starving for eye candy!  We hold top position on the page--the first-glance spot--but we aren't consistently giving shoppers reason to stop, look, and click to our product pages.  Too many of us are choosing to skip this vitally important presentation tool and essentially condemning our work to a cyber dungeon where the door is seldom opened.

       Hands down, multiple visuals do the job better than only one.  Clever cover pages definitely entice shoppers to product pages, but like our students, getting their attention does not guarantee keeping it.  Our items need thumbnails and preview pages to provide another level of interest.  Furthermore, it should be noted that TpT submits these images to Google, where they can drive traffic straight to the site and our individual products.


     Our presentation approach needs improvement as soon as possible. Of course, this means we get to add graphic designer to our list of inherent professions!



"Do we have to show all our work?"

     You bet!

     Preparing a lesson intended for sale requires the same type of careful construction we use for our own classrooms with one important modification.  Since we will not be there to explain in person, we must make our work self-explanatory.  Our customers need a clear and precise plan with all necessary materials and instructions.  In short, we must supply everything required to teach our lessons. 

    Rather than focusing on single worksheets and/or other individual items, think "package."  We are all familiar with the booklet format that is the norm with traditional publishers.  Electronic lesson plans should be constructed within similar parameters.  Even a one-page item takes on a professional luster with a cover page and full instructions. For multi-page items, our buying customers should consistently find

      a cover page that announces and identifies the product.

      a table of contents, when appropriate, to give the purchaser an overview of the product components. 

      a statement of purpose, separate and formal or written into individual activities.

      a supply list if specific items are required.

      full instructions.  The information you hold in your head and present orally in a classroom setting must be scripted when you prepare your lesson for purchase. Worksheets are not automatically self-explanatory.  Devoid of instructions, they can be downright confusing.  Every page involving student responses requires written directions!

     Note:  The product-description spot is not the place to post product                directions. They belong in the product on the appropriate page(s).

      all worksheets.  Everything that you have at your fingertips in your classroom is a required ingredient in your package.

      answer keys, especially when a handout involves specific answers.  In other cases, a set of possible responses is a thoughtful addition.

      a list of useful internet or reference resources, if appropriate.

          Let's go ahead and annex editor onto our conglomerated job description.


 "Are you taking grades?"

      Oh my goodness, yes!   Our customers grade us monetarily with every sale.  Some of them also award letter grades with comments, which they post for all to see. Going pro in composing and presenting our products certainly increases our chances of making TpT's honor roll. 

    TpT Honor Roll Teacher/Author!  So what if it doesn't qualify as a profession?  We'll take the job!  Could we get that on a refrigerator magnet?

Margaret's Signature
  Margaret Whisnant