Teachers Are Turning To Instagram To Supplement Their Income

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 
Image via Instagram/Amy Groesbeck/lessonswithlaughter

Some earnings far exceed what they make in their teachers’ salaries

There’s a growing number of social media influencers taking Instagram by storm. They aren’t models or entertainers with millions of followers, but teachers who are joining the ranks of “teacher influencers” who are sharing classroom photos, activities, and creative learning in their schools — and earning a much needed second income in the process.

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Some of these fan-favorites started out as ‘teacher bloggers’ who supported other teachers and shared curriculum and supportive words. A select few ended up becoming social media celebrities of sorts, joining an online platform called ‘Teachers Pay Teachers’ which allows them to sell worksheets, bulletin board decor, and other classroom ideas to supplement their income and pay the bills.

Think this is a one-off? Educators who have been promoting their ‘Teachers Pay Teachers’ products on Instagram, using hashtags like #TeachersOfInstagram have collectively over 3.5 million posts. Some have over 100,000 followers, putting them front and center in the influencer category.

According to the US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, the average national salary for an elementary or high school teacher was $58,064 in the 2016–17 calendar year. But many states fall significantly below the national average with annual salaries closer to $42,000.

Teachers by the thousands have been front and center in the news this year, going on strike in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, and Colorado demanding salary increases, smaller classroom sizes, and funding for their schools. And while teachers fight to earn a reasonable living (as they should), classrooms don’t have the faculty to continue teaching our children.

Several large retailers are cashing in on their business (and followers) as well. Michael’s, Oriental Trading Company, Scholastic, and other big-name brands are paying teachers for sponsored Instagram posts, creating more demand and ultimately more money in the hands of our teachers which they desperately need. And while more money is a benefit to anyone, most of these teachers are turning around and putting it back into their classrooms for students.

Unfortunately for these educators, this additional income also means putting hours in before and after their teaching job. “I lock myself in the office and spend at least six hours a day working on products and creating images to post on Instagram and things like that,” teacher Amy Groesbeck tells BuzzFeed News. “It really is a second full-time job.” She tells BuzzFeed that her teacher salary is $50,000 annually, but with her additional income from Instagram and Teachers Pay Teachers, she makes about $200,000.

And while most have the support of significant others, fellow teachers and school administrators, at what point can we come together to pay teachers what they deserve so they don’t have to spend another 40 hours a week earning a livable wage?

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