Does it really matter if I don’t include answers in my teaching resource?

This is a question I see teacher sellers (teacherpreneurs) ask occasionally. “Should I include the answers?” And the answer to that question, very much depends on the type of resource you are creating.


Generally speaking, yes, you should include the answers whenever possible.


However, including the answers isn’t always possible and when this is the case you should try to think of some alternative help you can offer, which we’ll explore later.


Does it really matter if I don’t include answers in my teaching resource?

Why do teacher’s buy resources?

There are many reasons teachers may buy a teaching resource…

  • They are new to teaching the subject and may be lacking in knowledge or confidence in the subject matter.

  • They are going to be away and are looking for a resource that is ready-to-use for the cover teacher.

  • They have an inspection coming up and are a looking for inspiration.

  • They have a large workload and don’t have the time to create a lesson or activity from scratch.

  • It may be a topic they don’t enjoy teaching so would prefer to pay for the privilege of not having to plan a lesson or activity.


There are many more reasons and these are just a few.


If a teacher is willing to buy a resource, that resource needs to give them a solution to whatever problem they are experiencing. Whether that be:

  • lack of subject / pedagogical knowledge,

  • lack of time,

  • or whatever other reason there is.

They important point to note is the teacher wants a solution and are willing to buy it from you.


If the teacher buyer gets a resource that doesn’t include the answers, they then need to sit down and work them out. Some teachers are happy to do so but others, many others, feel a little cheated that this “solution” still requires work from them.


Imagine, if you will, that a high-school science teacher wakes up with terrible toothache and needs to get an emergency appointment at the dentist. They ring the school and arrange to take the morning off but they need to leave work for the teacher that will be covering their class for them. They don’t know who will be covering their lesson, and so need to provide work that any teacher can pick up and go with.


Teacher in pain

They look on TpT and find a worksheet that fits their current topic for their first class of the day. So, they buy it and download it.


When they look through the worksheet (still in pain may I remind you) they find that instead of the complete solution they had expected, it does not include the answers. They then have to work out the answers. This which is generally easy enough as they are a subject specialist, but it’s frustrating that they need to do this after they paid for the worksheet and their tooth is really throbbing by now. Also, one of the questions is a bit ambiguous and so they are not too sure what the original question setter was really asking for.


They also still need to make a packed lunch, get their own child to school and email over the worksheet and answers they had to type up this morning. All that extra work makes them late to their dentist appointment when they are already feeling pretty awful.


Do you think that worksheet was as helpful as it could have been on an already stressful morning?

I hear teacher sellers say “It only takes a few minutes to create the answers, teachers who are any good at their job should be able to do it.” I‘ve even seen sellers write as much in their replies when teachers have left less than favourable reviews because the resource didn’t include the answers.


Well, if it doesn’t take long to create the answers, why don’t you (as the resource author) do it then?


It would it have been nicer if the question writer had spent a few minutes noting down the types of answers they were expecting and that would have really helped that poor teacher who was already having such a rotten morning.


Let’s have a look at another scenario.


A newly qualified teacher is teaching a topic for the first time, we’ve all been there. The teacher is looking for an activity that can be used at the end of the lesson to reinforce the learning and keep the class engaged. But as they haven’t taught this topic before they’re struggling to come up with suitable ideas.


Teacher looking stressed

They find a resource but when they download it they realise it doesn’t include the answers.


They sit down to write their own answers late at night, when they are already tired and overworked. But in their haste, they mis-understand one of the questions and get the answer wrong.


Using the activity in class the next day, the activity has gone well. The teacher is going through the answers with their class. The class immediately pick up that the answer to one of the questions is incorrect and laugh at the teacher, making their job even harder and eroding their self-confidence that little bit more.


Neither of these scenarios are farfetched and could happen every day.


By not including the answers both of these teacher’s lives were made that little bit more difficult.


You don’t know who is buying your resources. You don’t know the reasons they need that resource and you don’t know what other pressures they have going on in their lives.


Be kind and give them the answers.


How do you give them the answers?

You can include the answers in several ways.


Option 1 - The easiest is to simply duplicate the activity, such as a worksheet, and fill it in with a different coloured font. This can be saved as a separate file with an obvious name to show it is the answers. I tend to call it the same as the main file but with “ANSWERS” at the end. For example, “Hexadecimal Conversion ANSWERS.pdf”

Showing the answers in red text

Option 2 - You could always give them more help by including a teacher’s lesson plan or help file that explains how to run the activity and also gives a list of the answers.

Lesson Plan with answers

Whichever you pick from the two options above, these can then be zipped together along with the original activity, into a single file to be uploaded.


If you don’t want to upload a zipped file containing more than one file, you can always include the answers in the file itself as an extra page or two at the back of the recourse. This works well on printed resources as the teacher can print the pages they need without giving the solution away to their students.


What if there is no single answer?

Not all activities have just one right answer and sometimes there may be several correct answers or, indeed no answers at all. You may have an activity where you are asking students to write a poem. There is no right or wrong answer in this instance, but you can still offer help to the teacher.


If there is more than one possible answer then give the teacher one or two suggested answers and then make it clear there are others available.


When there really is no answer, for example asking students to discuss their own personal feelings or point of view, a list of possible prompts to promote deeper thinking by the students would be hugely appreciated by the teacher.


Remember, you don’t know what stresses and issues the teachers who download your resource are dealing with. Try to make their life a little easier whenever you can and teachers will appreciate it.


If you really help a teacher when they need it the most, they are more likely to return to you for more resources in the future.

Happy teacher seller

Added bonus

When you create the answers and include them in your resource it shows you care about the teacher and are trying to make their life easier. You’re not just selling the resource to try and make a quick buck, you’re really trying to help the teacher. And it shows.


Make sure you advertise the fact that the answers are included.


You should put it on the cover image, on the preview images and in your product descriptions. You are doing something wonderful to help the teacher and teachers will appreciate it.


If your resources include the answers, it makes your resource that much more desirable over your competitors, so shout about it.


If you would like training on setting up your teacher seller business, have a look at our free and paid for courses here.


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