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Education graduate develops online teaching community

by Rosanna Galvin

Katie Hoffman, creator of Teacher’s Marketplace.An enterprising education graduate has launched a website aiming to help Australian teachers share their teaching resources and potentially earn additional income.

Teacher’s Marketplace, established by UniSA alumnus Katie Hoffman (pictured right), is a digital platform where teachers can upload their personal teaching resources and sell them to fellow Australian teachers, creating an online teaching community specifically for the Australian market.

“While there are other online teaching resource websites, Teacher’s Marketplace is the only website that caters solely for Australian teachers. I hope it will become a venue where teachers from around Australia can get together and share,” Hoffman says.

“Having taught in the UK and been an exchange student in America, I've realised that internationally curriculums can vary greatly. Overseas there’s no opportunity for educators to enhance their lessons with hands on experiences such as getting outside and using the environment.

“If learning about time, why not go outside at various intervals and sketch student shadows to show how a sundial works or make an hourglass with sand and recycled soft drink bottles?

“The whole point of Teacher's Marketplace is to embrace the creativity and diversity of Australian educators. We want to provide an open marketplace of resources that are tried, tested but most importantly created by other teachers, as well as provide creative suggestions on how to complement a unit rather than simply here's another worksheet.”

While the website creates an interactive online teaching community, it also offers the potential for teachers to supplement their income, receiving financial reward for the long hours of planning they often undertake.

Professor of Education Bruce Johnson, who is currently investigating teacher resilience and retention, says up to 40 percent of teachers leave the profession within the first five years. His research, as part of the Australian Research Council’s Early Career Teachers Resilience project, indicates early career teachers struggle because they find themselves managing an overwhelming workload alone.

“We know that 25 to 40 percent of early career teachers are likely to leave the profession within the first five years. While the reasons behind teachers leaving the profession are quite complex, we have found one of the greatest challenges reported is that teachers feel solely responsible for the learning program and classroom management,” Prof Johnson says.

“International studies of teachers’ workloads reveal that classroom teachers work, on average, 50 to 55 hours per week. Therefore most teachers would spend 20 to 25 hours per week on planning, preparing, assessing and reporting tasks on top of their face-to-face teaching commitments in classrooms.

“While I am not convinced a website like Teacher’s Marketplace is unique in its content, what is different is that Australian teachers can now enter the marketplace and sell their resources online.”

The long hours worked and the desire from fellow teachers to sell the resources they have created during out of work hours was what prompted Hoffman to create Teacher’s Marketplace initially.

“As a teacher, I used to stay up to midnight nearly every night, planning and preparing,” Hoffman says.

“I’ve been sharing my own resources online for years on my website called Imaginative Teacher. My peers were often asking how they could also share and sell their resources online without having to create a website themselves.

“Since launching Teacher’s Marketplace, I’ve had 1900 teachers sign up. My highest seller has earned $1300 this year – this is from resources that cost one dollar.”

Teacher’s Marketplace was developed with the help of another UniSA student, web designer James Baker, who is currently undertaking a Master of Business Information Systems as part of the Business Information Systems Cooperative Scholarship program.

While still in high school, Baker founded his web design company UnifiedOne and continues to operate the business part-time around study commitments. A graduate from UniSA’s Bachelor of Business (Management of IT), Baker also works casually at UniSA’s IT Helpdesk.

For more information on Prof Johnson’s research as part of the Early Career Teachers Resilience project, click here.

To visit Teacher’s Marketplace, click here.