While the Georgia-based second grade teacher and mother – of two boys and a Yorkie named Lily! – has shot to stardom with over 21.5K followers on her teacher account, she and her husband pride themselves on being “run of the mill folks who thrive on hard work, routine, and spending time with family and friends.”
We recently had the opportunity to talk to Mrs. Tatum about what her life has been like since she has risen to social media stardom. We also chatted about why she decided to become a teacher, how she uses simple routines to stay on track with her health and wellness journey, and what an actual day in her life is like.
Q: We know that you’re super busy right now getting ready for back-to-school, as well as taking care of your family. So, we really appreciate you making time to chat with us about your teaching life and wellness journey so far!
We have to start with your @taught.by.tatum teacher account. When you created it, did you ever think you’d become a social media star with over 21.5K followers?! What’s it like being not only a teacher, but a famous teacher with a big following?
A: (Laughing) “Well I definitely don’t consider myself famous, but I am so grateful for every follower and fellow teacher on social media! I first created my account back in 2019 when I wanted to market my resources I created for a website called Teachers Pay Teachers. It really is a great community of educators who give lots of advice, helpful tips, and resources for teaching. I’m blessed to be a small part of it!”
Q: Growing up, did you always know that you wanted to become a teacher? Or was there a specific moment in your life when you realized that you needed to become a teacher?
A: “I always loved playing school growing up and my mother was a teacher as well. But it wasn’t until middle/high school that I decided I wanted to teach. I did a ‘Shadow Day’ in 8th grade where I followed along on a day in the life of a kindergarten teacher (my mom’s coworker) and loved it so much that, from then on, I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher myself!”
Q: As a mother of two little boys (and your dog Lily!), what’s a typical day in your life like during the school year?
A: “I usually wake up around 4:45 a.m. – early, I know! – and drink my pre-workout to wake up and get dressed to work out. I’m usually working out sometime between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.
During that time, my husband gets up and heads to work. When I’m finished working out, I shower and get ready for work. I wake up my 7 year old to get ready for school, then I wake up my 3 year old and get him ready for daycare.
We are out of the house by 6:45/6:50 a.m. Then I drop off my youngest at an in-home daycare on the way to work. I have to be at work by 7:00 a.m. So, fortunately we live very close to my school!
My oldest and I are at school until about 4:00/4:15 p.m. usually. Then I go back to pick up my youngest from daycare. We get home around 4:30 p.m. or so and they usually want to relax for a bit and have a snack. Then, depending on the time of year, we usually have to head off to baseball or football practice for my 7 year old around 5:00 or 6:00 p.m.
My husband gets home from work between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m., so after any practices/games we typically eat dinner around 7:00 p.m. and then have a little chill/play time with the boys and then start getting them ready for bed.
Usually by the time they are in bed, it’s lights out for us, too, because we are so tired! We will sometimes watch TV together, and occasionally I’ll work on some things for school or my TpT store right before bed.
Our dog, Lily, is 8 years old and plays with us and the boys whenever we are at home but is also very snuggly and lazy. She loves to get her naps in while we are at work and her cuddles in when we are home at night.”
Q: Being responsible for not only yourself, but also your students, your own children, your husband, and your dog, how are you able to balance your busy schedule and a healthy lifestyle? What are the simple routines or habits that you rely on every day in order to stay on track with your health and wellness journey?
A: “It’s definitely a balance and I don’t do it perfectly all the time. But I have made exercise a priority in my life and I make sure to do it at least 5 days a week, if not every day.
Some mornings I’m too tired so I will take my workout clothes with me and do my workout in my classroom or outside on the track after school – often times with some of my coworkers. I make sure to get my workout in because I always feel better when I move my body.
When I do it before school, it gives me the momentum and energy I need to give my students my best. And on days I do it after work, it gives me the boost I need to do all the things with and for my family when I get home.”
Q: What type of workouts do you do?
A: “I do at-home workouts using dumbbells. I actually keep a few dumbbells in my classroom closet if I ever need to work out after school. I usually find lots of different videos on the internet to follow along with. I try to work out fairly vigorously anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes each day.”
Q: We know that you use Purely Inspired Organic Protein and Collagen Peptides quite often – since you sent us a picture of your pantry! – but what is it about the Purely Inspired brand that resonates with you?
A: “First of all, I like that it is plant-based as there are so many benefits from that. I also choose it because it is a quality product at an affordable price. Being a teacher in our current economy, I definitely price things and choose based on what is the best bang for my buck. Purely Inspired is the perfect balance!”
Q: As a teacher, how often are you buying educational materials and classroom supplies for your students?
A: “There are always new and innovative things teachers want to get for their students. I used to have to/want to buy a lot of these things with my own money.
Fortunately, someone in my community set up a social media page where teachers in our county share their classroom wishlists and people can “Adopt a Teacher” and help purchase things off their wishlists. It has been so amazing and lots of my classroom supplies and resources have been gifted through people donating to my wishlist.
We also do get a yearly budget from our school to buy some things we need for our classrooms. I am extremely blessed in this way because I know there are many, many teachers who don’t have these benefits where they live and work. I do still purchase many things for my classroom at times when I want to do a fun activity or when the need arises, but fortunately a lot of our needs are taken care of by the community.”
Q: How would you describe what being a teacher is like to people who may not fully understand everything that teachers have to do on a daily basis?
A: “I would say being a teacher is more than ‘just’ teaching. Throughout the day we are mentoring, counseling, mediating, comforting, behavior managing, teaching independence, life skills, and social skills, caring for injuries, having meetings with coworkers and parents, answering emails and text messages, filling out paperwork, accommodating student IEPs, making sure students are fed and get home safely, all while trying to plan and implement effective and engaging lessons for our students.”
Q: What are some self-care strategies that you do for yourself when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed with your work and home life?
A: “Honestly, working out is a big stress-reliever for me. I try to do it consistently to keep anxiety and overwhelming feelings at bay. I also love to cozy up with a blanket and watch my favorite shows when I can. Coffee, pizza, and ice cream also help from time to time.” (Laughing)
Q: What’s the best teaching advice you’ve ever received?
A: The best teaching advice I’ve ever received was from my collaborating teacher when I was student teaching in college. She told me to remember that, ‘At the end of the day, teaching is a job and is not your whole life. Leave work at a reasonable time each day and leave school at school so you can enjoy your family.’ I try to remember that I’m replaceable at work, but not at home. Teaching is a big part of who I am, but I am also so much more than that!”
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