Natalie is here to share how her social media influencer status went viral. I found Natalie Stuart scrolling through TikTok as a lot of us do and I instantly fell in love. What a roller coaster Natalie has been on lately. Her life has exploded in just a short amount of time. Natalie Stuart teaches third grade in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She has been teaching for thirteen years and has her Master's in Education. She was born and raised in Miami and moved to Fort Lauderdale 15 years ago. A very proud Latina from a Cuban American family, whose life has completely changed because of TikTok.
We speak to all different types of teachers that are looking to make extra income and also find freedom. But most importantly I want them to find joy in the classroom again. Because we live in a society right now where education is not getting the respect that it deserves. And that's what I feel Natalie does better than anyone. When you visit her page you can’t help but think man those children are having the most fun.
When Natalie first downloaded TikTok she really had no intentions of using it for anything other than just fun. The month before the pandemic her students were dying for her to learn this dance called the Renegade dance. The choreography was on TikTok. She learned it on the app and they did the dance together at recess. It was a fun time and then we all went into quarantine and she remembers opening up TikTok just kind of scrolling through and laughing and crying. It actually gave her purpose in a time when we were all alone. She’s not married and doesn't have children, so she is alone for 95% of her life. The app gave her purpose and a reason to get up every morning, put on makeup do her hair and share funny videos and make people laugh. In a time when so many sad things were going on in the world.
Then once school started they were all virtual, so it was kind of strange because she went to work as a teacher with not a single child in sight. Only teachers in their empty classrooms. She thought whatever she decided to implement she was going to share it as well because somebody might benefit from what she was doing too.
It was during a time when any sort of information, any sort of guidance, or assistance was beneficial. Because nobody had ever taught virtually before it was all brand new. Natalie started posting little videos here and there of what she did during virtual learning. And then it just kind of blossomed from there. One day she opened her app and realized she had hit ten thousand followers. I know a lot of our readers are scared to put themselves out there. They're afraid of what other teachers may say or if their school district may not want them to put themselves out there on TikTok.
Keep it very real, Natalie says, If you don't have a supportive administration it might not work at first. Your best bet is to pitch it to them to the point where they will give you a chance to do it. Natalie was just so blessed that her administration is very pro-teacher. They believe and trust her practices. So when she presented it to them it was a no-brainer. She says to explain why you want to share your content on social media, and how it will actually help your audience, students, or other teachers. You need to have thick skin because people are going to have many opinions about what you do. And at the end of the day, the opinions that matter most are the parents of the students in your class. Believe in what you do and know that your practices are ethical.
Natalie’s teacher assistants (that's what she calls them) essentially help her teach. And she is able to incorporate so much pop culture into what she does because the kids are obsessed with social media. Her thought process is to infuse what they are already paying attention to online.
She is also able to infuse things from back in the day and kind of teach them about what was popular back when she was growing up.
If somebody who's gone through trials and tribulations she may share what they went through or their story (with permission). Essentially she is giving little history lessons here and there. She doesn’t really think too far in the future about what she will share because she wants it to be authentic, and what you would find in the classroom. I love the way that her brain works and I think this is why she is so successful. She is going to be authentic first, and worry about going viral second.
Natalie works at a title one school which means 70% or more of the students in her school are on free and reduced lunch. They come from low-income areas. She mentions this because sometimes she does get haters that say that's inappropriate that she’s introducing Cardi B to her students. But her students listen to Cardi B, she's a normal staple in their homes, in their cars, and what their parents listen to. It's part of their culture. Another very popular teacher assistant is DJ Pauly D. He is extremely positive. And for the most part, it is one celebrity per week that she brings into the classroom.
She laminates the celebrity face so the children have a visual cue when they see it. And then they repeat a phrase back to the teacher and it's always inside of the lesson. Then if they get the answer correct they are allowed to repeat the celebrity phrase. If they don't get it correct they work on it until it's correct.
Natalie became THE TikTok teacher just by being authentically her. She has created a teacher business where people are reaching out to request brand partnerships. In the beginning, she was just recording her students and how she used social media to teach. Then it turned into an extra stream of income and revenue.
Over time her following grew and her content changed and authenticity is what is attractive to brands. She has turned down several brands and she doesn't care how much money it is. The brand has to be something that resonates with her. Because at the end of the day she feels the reason she is successful is that she has stayed true to herself. Being on TikTok was never to make it a second job. She never set out to make extra income, it was just a platform for her to create videos. The partnerships just came naturally.
At the beginning of her journey, she would leave her teaching job at 4 pm run to Starbucks to get there by 4:30, and work her second job until 11 pm. She would grade papers on her breaks and was on her feet all night. It was exhausting and although she loved working there, the people were great, and the experience was wonderful, but it was exhausting and not ideal. Social media has given her the opportunity to have a second job that she loves.
What I think is so important and I want to highlight is that she never went into this life wanting to become a Social Media Influencer or with the intention of making money. She went into it with the intention of a servant's heart. She is a teacher and wanted to do this for the right reasons.
Natalie says it can be a challenge to stay true to her authenticity. Some businesses are very open to her creative mind and ideas and what her vision is to represent their brand. And others, not so much. It can be a little overwhelming and stressful. But ultimately she will pitch to a business or brand what her vision is. And then she lets them decide if her brand of teacher influencer is going to be a successful and positive collaboration. What she looks for with brand deals is – is it going to be a positive collaboration, is it going to be something that they will foster and accept her vision for their brand.
Natalie shared some best practices when it comes to being a teacher on the platform. Because if you are planning to use your classroom, it's not just your account. It belongs to your students too!
If you don't have their support from your admin, you cannot use your students or classroom to begin making a side hustle income.
Get legal help with your contract if needed, just be sure to be explicit about what you are trying to achieve.
If you force things it will be evident. People will pick up on it- QUICK. The number one piece of a successful classroom is the teacher/student relationship. Bottom line. The bonds with her students are normal and natural
Oftentimes people download TikTok without knowing the ins and outs of how to create quality videos or content. Take some time to learn the app and how to navigate all the pieces. It is also extremely important that you review every sound you plan to use. Because in order to become a Social Media Influencer and keep it clean and professional you need to preview all the sound and music used.
Natalie decided early on in her journey, that she was not going to post the negative parts of her job. She has so much respect for those that do share even the not-so-beautiful pieces of teaching. But for her this is a platform where students are following her, parents are following her and an entire community is following her. She wants them to see the fun things she does in the classroom. And while she empathizes with teachers who are crying and leaving the profession she has made the decision not to post that side of teaching. When the door is closed and it's just the kids and herself she doesn’t want the political part of this profession to dictate her feelings and day.
She is no stranger to the stress of the profession taking over. She shared the time she had an anxiety attack while at a friend's house after school. She remembers the car ride home from the ER very vividly. It was four-thirty in the morning; she was exhausted absolutely mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. And she remembers thinking everyone's at home in bed sleeping just fine. And if she allowed the job to take her life, no one was going to remember anything else. She might be replaceable at school, but she’s not replaceable to her close friends and family. It took a very serious incident for her to gain a new perspective. And since that day she has made a promise that she will never let this profession take over her mind and health again. And the fun and hype she shares on TikTok make me love her even more (while wanting to be in her classroom).
Want to see all the goodness Natalie has to offer and perhaps become a Social Media Influencer yourself? You can find her on TikTok @NattieMeetsWorld