I hate that I have to write this


The blog title is so true. I hate what I’m about to say. I hate even more that I have to say this after not blogging in over 7 months. Life has been busy, both professionally and personally, and unfortunately my blog has had to take a back seat to everything else.

Well, I’m back tonight because I need to address an issue that has been festering for a while.

The issue is plagiarism. The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.

First off, I need to say that I blog because I love what I do. I love to write about it and to share my ideas and thoughts from my own experiences. But that’s the thing – what I share are my ideas from my experiences. What works for me may not work for you. And that’s okay.

I also need to say that I choose to share for free on my blog. I do not have a TPT store and I do not intend to start one. I’ve been told I should sell some of my lessons or documents on there because people would actually pay to use them, but I do not. I choose to share for free.

With things like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, it should be no surprise to me that people are accessing my stuff and are using it in their own work. In fact, that’s the reason I share. I hope to help other School Counselors find what works for them. And I have, very successfully, for the almost 3 years my blog has been going.

The issue I need to address openly with you is when someone comes across something that originated on my blog – let’s say a document of some kind – and this person then “recreates” it and shares it as their own document. I’m not talking about people who like something I’ve done and find a way to use the idea in their own way in their own school (that’s why I share). I’m talking about the people who take my documents, change a few words or the overall outline so it looks a bit different, and then share it in groups such as the Elementary School Counselor Exchange (a place that currently has over 10,000 members) as their own brilliant work.

This has happened to me more than once. Imagine my surprise when I’m scrolling through the news feed and find a document that looks awfully familiar, only it’s been changed slightly and has been posted by someone saying they want to share it with others. Sometimes these posts have a disclaimer like, “This is a compilation of ideas that I’ve found online along with my own.” (By the way, this does NOT count as giving credit to the original creator.)

I get searching for ideas to use in your own school. I do that too. All the time. Thus the basis of starting my blog. But sharing someone else’s hard work as your own? And posting “your” idea in a group of 10,000 fellow School Counselors/Social Workers? And liking the comments as they roll in about how thankful they are that you shared your masterpiece? THAT I do not get.

And I’m not okay with it. It is hurtful and manipulative and unethical.

I’m not sure how I will change what I share so this stops. My work isn’t copyrighted and it’s not for sale. But it is my work.

So far, I’ll just start by writing about this issue publicly and openly, and hope that it starts a much needed conversation among bloggers and followers alike.

Please keep in mind how fortunate all of us are to have so many people willing to share their ideas for others to access and gain inspiration from. And please, please, don’t ruin it for the rest of us.

21 thoughts on “I hate that I have to write this

  1. I am so glad you addressed this issue. I am also in the teaching profession and Unfortunately, I have not been blessed with a great deal of creativity! So I do look forward to hearing others’ ideas and trying them with my students and colleagues, however I would never take credit for the ideas as my own. I have missed your blogs over the last several months and hope that you continue to share. It is too bad that some of the so-called professionals who use your ideas don’t have the decency to give you credit.

    • I’m SOOO sorry,too. As a seasoned Counselor, I look forward to the creative minds of many of you “youngster”. The ideas help us think of new and exciting things that fit our school population. This issue must be addressed.!!

  2. Wow, I am really sorry that has happened to you! Have you started by sending PMs to people who have shared things as their own without giving credit? I am always thankful for those of you who take the time, effort, and energy to generously share your ideas and talents. I don’t want it to be ruined by those who are taking advantage, either!

    • I have commented on the person’s post with a direct link to my blog post where the document was shared. Sometimes I write, “hmm…this looks familiar!” I don’t want the sharing to be ruined either. I love sharing!

  3. Thank you for saying this. I so appreciate being able to get ideas that I can use in my work. It has been a disappointment to me that so many of our colleagues have decided to sell their ideas. I get it …they want to be paid for their time and creativity. But I long for the old days when we just shared because it was a great idea. It was a we are all in this together school counselor family. To think that people who teach others honesty and integrity would plagiarize your work is a very sad statement in where we are in our profession

  4. Maybe a subtle call out, like “I really agree with this idea! I shared my own, very similar idea in March, 2014: link)”.

    • I have commented on the person’s post with a statement about the document looking familiar or a great idea that I shared here (and then include a link to my blog post). It’s a small step but perhaps it will get some people thinking more carefully if they know others are paying attention!

  5. I feel your pain…
    It’s easy to say, just move forward, keep creating and let others try and copy… Every time someone “Steals” your idea though it sucks the creative energy from you and repeat offenses create fatigue.
    I can give you two great examples. My 11 year old developed DZDOCK an iPhone stand that we patented. We are the number one stand on Amazon. Problem is its a copy of our device selling for less than what it costs us to make…
    I am also the creator of SCUTA, School Counselor Use of Time Analysis tool. Many have copied our reports and logs verbatim without crediting SCUTA…. The sad thing is that in many cases they are showing the wrong values!!!! which goes to show that even if you can copy, you might not understand what you are doing in the first place…
    My dad told me to focus on the positive, keep creating, just remember those that are copying are waiting for you to come up with the idea in the first place. Eventually, people will catch on.

    • Wow – you do have a lot of experience with being plagiarized. I’m sorry! And you’re right – it does zap your creative energy when someone steals your ideas. But I like your dad’s advice to keep creating! That’s what I plan to do. 🙂

  6. I am always thankful for the creativity of others and those willing to share ideas for FREE! I hate counseling blogs that post a cute activity or a great idea and then a website linking to a TpT site! So annoying! But back to my main point…who has time to steal someone else’s ideas and then re-post them as their own? Seriously? How can they even be employed as a school counselor, because if they were they would have neither the time nor the energy to do that…..? Anyway, I agree with private messaging the thieves that someone else mentioned… And please don’t stop posting lesson ideas due to a few unscrupulous people… free creativity is always appreciated!

    • Thanks, PJ. I feel passionate about keeping my blog and what I share free for other School Counselors and educators. I really hope it doesn’t have to change. I have been tracking down the documents that have been plagiarized and addressing it with those people. I can only hope it helps others think twice about it if they know I’m on top of it! Anyway, thank you for reading and supporting my blog.

  7. I totally get it! Thanks for addressing this topic. But all jokes aside, how should one appropriately give credit? Should I site your blog? I’m really serious as I hate plagiarism. BTW, I love your blog. Keep on keeping on!!!!!

    • Great question! When someone uses a document that I’ve created or takes an idea that I blogged about, they will often put a link to my blog post or at least my name. Or if someone takes a document I created and then tweaks it as their own, they should at least put something like “adapted from the work by Kayla Marston” or something like that. Any way to give credit is better than nothing!

  8. I’m so sorry you’re having this issue. As a fellow counselor I greatly appreciate the flow of ideas from people such as yourself. I’m not an overly creative person but I am a very industrious person so if someone else can come up with the ideas, I can do the work to make them come to fruition for my students. Please continue to share and try not to let the poor character of others keep you from doing and sharing what you love.

  9. I’m really sorry to hear that you have had such an awful experience, plagiarism is so unfair! I love reading your blogs, so many creative ideas that I often share with the kids here in Wales (UK)! Keep up the great work it helps us to make a difference to so many children and young people and is really appreciated!
    Many thanks Lisa

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