Copycats to Collaborators

A few years ago, I posted an image of one of the reading anchor charts I’d created for my classroom onto my blog.  I guess it was a good one because weeks later I noticed it popping up all over the place on Pinterest.  This was a big deal for me as a new blogger and I was so excited to see my work being shared out there in the big, wide world.

Here’s the original post and chart…

A few months later, I noticed a new trend.  I started seeing my chart in different places, but it wasn’t my chart anymore. Teachers had remade the chart for their own classrooms (some way cuter than mine!).  At first I was thrilled!  But then one day I followed some of the charts to their respective blogs and was bummed to discover that although the charts practically matched my own, I was never once given credit.

Here’s a sampling of some of the fun charts I came across…

(Sorry, but no credit given here either. I’m not trying to call people out, just illustrating my point.)

I’ll be honest here and say that it really did bother me.  I immediately had the childish feeling that I’d somehow been BETRAYED.  That others were trying to take credit for my idea!  (Dramatic much?) And interestingly, I noticed that some of the charts were copies of copies.  No credit given there either…

Then one day, I received a text message from a friend containing an image of another copycat chart.  She was at a big training in Austin and noticed they were using an anchor chart just like the one hanging in my classroom (although much creepier).  With high hopes, I texted her back asking if they had possibly credited my website.  Nope.  Of course, not.  My first thought was that I’d just lost the opportunity to connect with hundreds of teachers.  A huge marketing opportunity lost!  Could they not have just put a label on the chart that said “Inspired by”?  Needless to say, I was bummed.

But finally, something occurred to me and it’s sad that it took so long:  My idea was impacting teachers and classrooms all over the country.  And it might only be twenty teachers or ten classrooms.  But that might add up to 100 children!  And what if my anchor chart helped one or two of those children become better readers?   That is amazing.  How lucky I am to have the opportunity to share these ideas and collaborate with teachers around the country through blogging and Pinterest and TPT.  How cool that my ideas are finding their way into other classrooms of teachers I’ll never meet.

Some of the new charts have given me new ideas, too and I’ve used them in my own teaching.  Teachers aren’t copycats, they’re collaborators.  We all want to find and use whatever might help our kids learn.

So this little experience left me with two big lessons.

#1  Give credit whenever possible.  If you’re building on another person’s ideas, give credit!  If you’re building on an image from a Pin, track down the source of the Pin and give credit.  Using it in your own classroom is fine, but if you plan to post and share your version, then give credit.  It means a lot to the creator and I will be sure to do a better job of this in the future!

#2  Blogging is about sharing.  I started writing this blog so that I had a place to share and vent and connect with other educators.  This anchor chart was a great example of the ability of a blog post to impact other teachers, classrooms, and kids.  So instead of whining about not getting credit, I can focus on how cool it is to see my work being used and recreated and modified by other teachers.  Yes, credit would be nice, but in the end that wasn’t my goal for creating this blog.

And how funny would it be if it ended up I copied the idea from someone else without realizing it.  Maybe someone else’s anchor chart inspired mine!

Here’s my own updated version from last school year.  I referred to this chart ALL THE TIME and my kids drew their own version in their Reading Journals.

But now I must set you free little chart.  Go out into the world and do your thing.

And here’s a little freebie I created in honor of making peace with my recent hang up.


4 thoughts on “Copycats to Collaborators

  1. Tania L

    I love your blog. I’ve just discovered it and was going into some back issues when I discovered this. I wanted to share that I have had a version of this anchor chart (sans the child) for at least 7 years or so. It’s called “Readers are Thinkers” and I always use it to kick off one of my initial novels. I got the idea from a CLASS training I had attended earlier that year, so I’m not the first person either. If it started with you, then thank you, because it’s one of my most used anchor charts!

  2. Beverly Payne

    I’m not a blogger so I never post things for the world to see. However, I do use ideas I see online . Thank you so much for your creativity and sharing it with us. Your creativity helps me be a better teacher for my student!