Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Intellectual Properties Update.

Photo credit: denise carbonell / Foter / CC BY
For anyone who is interested, I still haven't heard back officially from my district regarding my rights to the curricula and lessons I've created for my Creative Writing class. Unofficially, I've been told that, although no one in the district really understands intellectual property law, they don't see why I can't have the rights to what I've created. We currently have a teacher-friendly administration. Plus, it will look good for the administration if one of their teachers publishes a textbook (I have a doctorate in curriculum after all).

Going Forward

I do however know and understand the shifting fates of the education world. Administrations change and social climate changes. So, I'm not trusting to fate for my future work. I have begun to talk to my union about gaining intellectual property rights for all teachers in the district. 

Photo credit: mysza831 / Foter / CC BY
With the two major viewpoints on sites like Teachers-pay-Teachers (which can be seen in the New York Times and other publications: Pro and Con), teachers are going to need to be more proactive to retain their intellectual property. If we continue to allow our hard work (often done on evenings and weekends instead of spending that time with our families) to be considered "work for hire" then we are running the risk of never raising the perception of teachers to anything more than a glorified helper occupation.

Look After Your Rights

Remember. No one is going to look after your rights for you. It's up to you to protect your intellectual property. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Why I'm doing this . . .

I've decided to start publishing all of my lessons before I teach them. A little odd, I know, but there is a reason for this.

I recently decided that I would write a textbook for a creative writing class I've been teaching for the past four years. I figure, there are a ton of people out there who are writing books on education with close to the same number of years in the profession. I also figured, seeing as I have a Doctorate in Education, and over 14 years experience in the profession, I can rely on my credentials a little and man up to write a book.

Photo credit: matryosha / Foter / CC BY
Here's where the problem sets in. When I began writing curriculum for my district, I didn't think far enough in the future. I never thought about the fact that . . .


True story. It doesn't matter if you have created it on your own time sitting on your couch at home. If it was used in a classroom, it belongs to the school.

Check out what the NEA says about Intellectual Property.

Thus this blog . . .

The importance of intellectual property

Photo credit: Jon Olav  Foter / CC BY
 I was talking to my ex-union president about our current contract, and he was adamant that whatever was done on school grounds, during the day belongs to the school. Additionally, any work done at home to prepare for the school day is considered "work for hire" and belongs to the school. The only way around it would be publish the lesson before you know if it's effective. 

The idea of publishing something that I don't know works before I try it gets under my skin. That, and it's kinda the worst possible way to improve the image of the profession.

"Hey everyone! Here's something that I've never tried before and I have no clue if it will work off of the paper." Sounds like a great slogan for getting people to trust and respect your work as a professional. I mean, come on, it's not like teachers are looked down upon by almost every political body or anything.

On top of that, teachers who use modeling (an effective and encouraged educational strategy) get kinda screwed over if they're modeling some creative task. Think of the art teacher modeling painting strategies, that art now belongs to the school. Or the music composition teacher teaching how to develop an original melody, that melody now belongs to the school. Or in my case, a creative writing teacher who creates a short story modeling proper characterization or dialogue, that story now belongs to the school. As a writer and creator, I find that fact unacceptable.

Photo credit: kevin dooley / Foter / CC BY

What to do?

I'm not sure how your contract is written, but I know mine has nothing in there to protect the intellectual properties of teachers. I want that changed. 

While my district seems willing to work with me so I can get my rights to the curriculum and lessons I've developed back, not all districts and administrations will be so kind to their people. Still though, the idea of not owning my own materials and ideas is unacceptable to me. I will be working with my union to try and get wording into the contract that protects the intellectual property rights of teachers for the future.

I'd recommend that you do the same . . .