We have chosen three of our amazing CEO Teacher® trailblazers to show you how they have paved the way for teachers in the online education space with their business ideas for teachers. It is my honor, and my privilege to introduce these amazing women, Courtney, Tara, and Desirée.
Tara Tuchel is a speech-language pathologist who has specialized in autism for 20+ years. She creates resources and materials to help busy parents and teachers that work with young children with autism. She relates most to the CEO Teacher® Trailblazer Maggie the Membership Mastermind.
Desirée McGee Greene is currently a stay-at-home mom/CEO Teacher®. Before she became a stay-at-home mom, she was an elementary teacher for nine years and then an instructional coach for seven. She helps literacy teachers, coaches, administrators become stronger at conferring with readers and writers. Desirée resonates with Katie the Coach.
Courtney Morgan was a second, third and fourth-grade teacher for 15 years and then moved into teaching English Learners. Her focus is to support teachers who are serving English learners and help them know how to make grade-level content accessible to them. She would say that she probably identifies the most with Kesha the Course Creator, which was an unexpected turn in her business.
I wanted to show you the different paths and options that are available to teachers, but let's get real. These ladies all sound like they have it all together. But I wanted to hear about what life was like before they found the confidence to share their ideas with the world.
Desirée says, “before I started out before becoming a CEO Teacher®, my life was crazy. I did not have a main thing. I had a lot of little things that I wanted to do and I was passionate about.” She recalls spending long nights and weekends just trying to figure out what to create. When she finally narrowed down that main thing, it was so much easier to create content that people wanted. Now she isn’t working weekends anymore either. She didn't know how to create a TPT product digitally. She didn't know how to protect it. She didn't know how to create awesome graphics to go with it. She was trying to figure it out on her own and it was difficult.
And let’s be honest, the graphics thing blows my mind because in our Facebook group, Desirée shares her graphics and they are scroll stopping.
Courtney remembers being completely clueless in the beginning. She needed a hobby during the first lockdown. But once she started the lessons in the CEO Teacher® programs and soaked up the content she realized that it was tweaking something really deep inside. She began to realize her past teaching experiences, mission trips to Latin America, etc. were suddenly coming together. Finally a vision of a way that she could share all of it. And it was so much bigger than just making some things for TPT.
It took Courtney joining the program and seeing what was possible to realize this could become an actual business. She had so much more to offer than she ever realized. So she went from completely clueless to having so much clarity on how she’s serving, who she’s serving, and what she wants to do.
What a profound moment. To realize all of the things in life, the things and places in life that you enjoyed, learned and used as experiences have been preparing you for this amazing opportunity. And I'm just going, to be honest, I didn’t know if Tara had struggled at all. She came in like a wrecking ball and has just been killing it from day one.
Tara actually started out a couple of years before she found the CEO Teacher®. Tara says she had clarity on her niche right from the start because it's what she does every day. Since she is still in the classroom, full-time. She thought it would be fun to create for TPT. With her three to five-year-olds with autism, there's nothing at the right level. So she created materials all the time. After she lost her dad to leukemia in 2019, she was grieving (HARD) and she realized she needed to channel that grief into something cathartic. So she decided to learn how to put the resources that she was already creating on TPT.
She really had no idea what was in store. She had no idea what was possible. And as things started selling she found she had to start Googling everything that she didn’t know. So when a friend that she had met in the online space said, have you heard of Kayse Morris? Tara joined level one and it opened her eyes to so many things. Looking back, she wishes she would have had the support earlier. Then she moved into level two. And that opened up a world that she didn't even know was possible. Her advice would be don't do it all alone. Join a program where they can walk you through it, step by step because you will save yourself a lot of hassle and stress. Tara mentioned that when she went all in the ideas started to pour out of her. I think we can all attest to being the person on the plane or in the shower, grabbing your notes on your phone whenever you are on fire for something.
Some people will tell you that everything in life is Googleable. You can Google any and everything. You can Google everything if you know the steps you're willing to take but all of these ladies say the CEO Teacher® programs kind of took that thought of everything as Googleable and made it kind of disappear.
Tara believes that with help growing a business can be more of a linear process rather than finding little landmines everywhere. When she started her materials were not protected by a password. Because she didn't even know that was a thing. She says, “where would I have learned that?” She wouldn't even know to Google it. Instead, the programs helped her learn this step-by-step way. Going through the process with someone that has done it before and knows what those steps actually are.
Desirée says she was Googling all over the place before she found the CEO Teacher® program. But in trying to figure out what to do she would get stuck. She would try one thing. And then have all these questions that arose from her search, and had no one to go to for answers. She says the CEO Teacher® program solves that issue because she has a place to go when she gets stuck. Or needs a question answered. Or is looking for feedback on a graphic or a social media post. It keeps her moving forward and not feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.
Courtney says if you just have one-off YouTube videos that you're watching, they could be from a bajillion, different people or coaches or presenters. And that type of information overload is frustrating. But she feels a connection with everything that's presented inside the community because it's all done through the lens of a teacher. “So if we are being taught a good search result, Kayse is using math centers as an example, and that's something I can immediately resonate with,” Courtney says, it reduces her cognitive load to use a fancy teacher term in the sense that she already speaks that language.
The CEO Teacher® program is designed in a linear path inside the lessons portion of the program. And the community is a safe place to go where everyone has your back. And I will say that it is insane how active our communities are. They're both almost at 90%. 90% of our members are asking or answering questions. This is insane because one of our groups has thousands of people in there. So with the lessons, we also have community, some stand-alone classes, and a whole coaching portion of the programs. Tara still feels the coaching calls, especially early on, are so relatable and there are always actionable steps that come out of it. And the level 2 coaching is really like being in your very own mastermind of other teacher business owners.
Desirée was torn between the community and the coaching being equally beneficial to her. But if she had to pick one she would say the community is where she goes to be inspired and let her creative juices flow. When she sees other examples of what other teachers are doing. And when she sees those different questions, it just makes her think oooo, I didn’t think about it like that.
For Courtney, it's the accountability and she knows that's kind of an ill word, but she feels like the program makes it easy to stay connected and stay plugged in. This is a journey. When that clicked for Courtney was when she realized, “these are my people. This is my team. I'm walking with them.”
I loved hearing their responses. The community's always been a thing with the program, but the coaching calls are finally a consistent piece of the program. And so to hear that, even when you can't show up, just to know that you have a call tonight and if you need your people, you can join and hear what they have to say.
They mentioned how it went from just trying to make easy, quick money on Teachers' Pay Teachers, to really focusing on the long game. None of them have just one stream of revenue coming in anymore.
Desirée says her mindset has shifted when she was still in the classroom. She was making a set salary. And that was her cap. She wasn't going to make any more than that unless she went back to school or did additional jobs. So she went back to school, got her master's degree, and thought that was going to help. She taught summer school. Did all the things right to make additional income, because she thought that's what she had to do. But when she heard about the CEO Teacher® programs, she realized that she could have more than that. She could have the type of life where she could use her passions and not be capped with a salary.
We talk a lot about having an abundance mindset inside the programs. And I recommend a lot of different business books. For Tara, listening to those audiobooks and really believing in that abundance mindset, there is enough money and goodness out there for each and every one of us, it's not a competition between any of us or between any of the people in the same niche as us. We all bring our special flavor and perspective. And so having that abundance mindset kind of changed everything for Tara.
It was hard for Tara to literally look ahead and say when she was 49 years old, she would only be making this much. Maybe there'll be a little more when they negotiated a new contract. But she knew the cap. But then she set her first goal of an extra $250 a month. And it brought financial freedom. And what she made (as additional income) in February 2022 is not anything she ever would have imagined for her life.
Courtney feels as if she is finally tapping into something that can help her fully utilize all the skills and abilities and passions that have no limit. It's just super motivating. Especially right now in an age where teachers are often lacking motivation or a sense of feeling empowered or appreciated or having an outlet to express themselves. For Courtney, this became that outlet. It allowed her to be creative and have control over the things that she is doing. And it's just a completely different feel from what she spent years and years and years experience as a classroom teacher.
Being inspired is part of what keeps us going. I think every single step of the way is because we're not always going to have willpower. It goes away just like with working out and with eating healthy. Each of these women (and so many others inside our programs) inspire me on days when it gets hard. Especially right now in this season, I'm working a lot. But I think about each one of your stories and it inspires me.
Tara says she has had so many side-conversations with Beth Hall. She thinks it's because their courses were being developed at the same time. And Beth is always super positive and on task. She's an action taker for sure. Tara really appreciated her support throughout developing her own course content.
Courtney is encouraged by some amazing black teacher entrepreneurs who are doing their thing and shining so bright in this teaching space, particularly Jocelynn at I Teach Custom and Jay at Joyful Math. They're just so full of light and joy with what they do. And every time they share something she’s inspired to learn something new.
Desirée is inspired by Kim. She's in our level one program. She always gives lots of good ideas of how to look at different sales and products and how they are doing. She was very positive and encouraging and just kept Desiree going every month with their Zoom chats.
Tara feels like there are more options. That's a positive that came out of a really, really terrible situation that we've all been in the last couple of years. There are so many more options for meeting with families and connecting with them. Google, Zoom, etc. really busy and have lots of young kids? Hop on a Zoom meeting for parent-teacher conferences. No need to drag everyone out in the cold, or have to worry about childcare. Or you can actually show parents how to use a strategy with their child. The online space has really opened up opportunities that may be teachers weren’t typically available for before. And that's huge. Tara does acknowledge the stress levels though too. Having to teach in so many different ways, ways that are constantly changing is a challenge.
Courtney mentions how the ‘new normal’ has shone a light on some inequities and the disadvantages that certain student groups have historically had. She says it has become too difficult to ignore and the online teaching requirements really helped to reveal the issues teachers have been talking about for years. Just like Tara mentioned having options for how to teach kids that are different and have different needs. Teachers are building awareness of what those needs are and ways that they can find solutions that work for individual students.
Desirée says that technology is a big piece of the inequity that was brought to light. A lot of students (and teachers) didn't have a laptop or a Chromebook or access to the internet. And so when it went from in-person to online and back to in-person it was a constant challenge. For a lot of families and teachers, the need to communicate and make sure students have what they need is a big piece of the puzzle. Are they seeing assignments and making sure they're logging into Zoom and active and engaged? Trying to figure out how to engage kids or adults online has been something that a lot of teachers have been doing professional development on, trying to learn how to do that for their own sanity.
I agree with everything these amazing educators brought up. And let's talk about the teachers for just a second. I think that teachers found a little bit of freedom being at home and teaching. I think it was difficult, but I also think that people's priorities started to really come back to the forefront of their lives. You're at home with your children and you started to realize, Hey, I kind of like being here and kind of having made my own schedule.
Because it looks different for everyone. Some people can say it's financial success. Some people can say it's being out of debt. I think there are a lot of different answers here, but as teachers find more freedom as we move into the new age of education, I wanted to know what freedom looks like to each of our CEO Teacher® Trailblazers.
For Courtney? It looks like sleeping in when she feels like sleeping in. She’s a night owl and does her best work later in the day. Being able to choose her daily schedule, do her Peloton workout when she wants to. Have lunch with her husband. The flexibility would be so nice after years and years of being locked to a school.
For Desirée, it's financial freedom. Her husband is having more time with their son and not feeling like he has to work, work, work, work, work, to provide for their family. Knowing they’re going to pay the bills and not living paycheck to paycheck. Not being concerned about where they are going to get the money for X. They actually had their ten-year anniversary just this past November, and didn't have to be concerned about whether they were going to be able to go anywhere or celebrate. They were able to go on a week-long trip to Florida. That was definitely something Desirée did not have when she was in the classroom. Time to just be able to watch a favorite show scrapbook, decorate the house. All things that bring her joy.
Tara found out she works best in the morning. She never considered herself a morning person. But through the pandemic, not having to commute she discovered, especially when it comes to the business, she’s a morning person. Freedom for her would be able to work on her business in the morning instead of the evening. Financial freedom as well. She’s paid off all her debt. And now the next goal is to retire early.
I wholeheartedly believe that each of them (AND YOU) can have any of the dreams that you dream. Freedom is for the taking in this day and age, especially for teachers.
Dream bigger dreams, the sky's the limit. I think that sometimes when you get stagnant, then you start looking for the next thing. So just why not just keep dreaming and keep going toward your perfect Freedom Filled Life?
And as always you know I will share my favorite ways to stay connected. And all the ways about how you can find the right business ideas for teachers and follow your passion to profit. Get in on living your best life by grabbing the workbook all about turning your passions into profit at kaysemorris.com/map.
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Looking forward to getting started, time for me to grow.
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