If we all could have had a teacher like Miss Amanda Grant, the world would be a better place today.
It’s clear that Miss Grant takes her role as a first-grade educator with great pride and responsibility—and she does it with a new-school approach that’s garnered her over 11K social media followers. Her decked-out classroom is what elementary school dreams are made of with a shout-out wall, calming corner, affirmations galore, and a brimming library.
We’re so grateful Miss Grant took a few minutes out of her busy back-to-school schedule to share her secrets for staying healthy, grounded, and positive—even on the toughest days!
Q: You’re a rising social media star with over 11K followers! When did you first notice that the content you were sharing on social media was inspiring and helping people?
A: “I never thought that my account would grow the way it has. I really started my page because I knew I had ideas to share but didn’t want to fill the feeds of people who I knew wouldn’t really care. I guess I first realized that my content was inspiring and helping people when I would get tags from people using my ideas in their own classrooms! Teaching is a job where it truly takes a village and I love being able to share my ideas with my followers to make their jobs a little easier. I get so many amazing ideas on social media. It’s really such a cool space!”
Q: Was there a specific moment in your life that inspired you to become a teacher? If so, what was it and why did it have such a profound impact on you?
A: “It’s funny because while I don’t have a specific moment when I knew I wanted to teach, I’ve always known. Both of my grandmothers were educators in some capacity and I have always been drawn to working with kids. I was 6 years old when my sister was born so I was very comfortable spending time with kids a lot younger than me. I used to babysit for my sister’s friends when I was in high school. I also started to run an informal arts and crafts camp in my parents’ backyard. Being a role model and having an impact on the lives of young children has just always been a part of who I am.”
Q: You dedicate weekends to DIY crafts and preparation for your classroom—have you always been super creative? And how do all these special touches and going the extra mile make a difference to your students?
A: “Yes, I’ve definitely always been creative! Having a creative outlet is so important for me to destress – it’s definitely self-care for me! I also love creating for others so this is something that I just naturally bring into my classroom! My students LOVE these little special touches and it makes it all worth it to hear their excitement when they come in and see what I do!”
Q: How do you source the many supplies needed for your 1st grade classroom?
A: “Unfortunately, I end up buying most of the supplies for my classroom. I’m so fortunate to have friends and family that are always looking to support me. So, when possible, I ask for things on a wishlist. My school offers me basic supplies which I utilize as much as possible! I’ve been so grateful for donations made from my community and through social media because it can be really challenging to get my students everything they need. I don’t think a lot of people realize how much money teachers spend out of our own pockets.”
Q: It’s obvious that you’re incredibly organized! Walk us through a day in your busy life.
A: “I wake up around 5 a.m. to get a workout in before school because I know I’ll be too tired at the end of the day! I get to school around 7 a.m. to make sure everything is ready for the day. This includes changing the date, updating our visual schedule, changing the lunch choices for that day and making sure all of my copies are made and slides are ready. I like to give my students a quick, 1-2 problem check in for morning work so I pass that out as well.
When that’s done, I check my email and bug my coworkers! (Laughing) It’s so important to have a supportive community and checking in with my teammates in the morning helps to build that community. At 8:30 a.m., the kids come and we start our day! I get 45 minutes of prep time every day and I use that time to start planning out the next week and making copies of what I’ll need.
But, I’m not a robot, and some days I just need to decompress and relax. When that happens, I give myself the time to relax so I can be my best teacher self when the kids come back! We are people before we are teachers. At the end of the day, if I don’t have any meetings, I check my emails again, correct work from the day, clean up a little bit, and keep planning for the next week. I usually stay at school until about 5 p.m. when I come home, relax on the couch, eat dinner, and go to bed!”
Q: What’s your secret to getting everything done with ease and grace?
A: “I definitely wouldn’t say I get it done with grace and ease! Some things that help me are to try to stay planned and copied for at least a week. That way I’m never scrambling in the morning to find a worksheet or get something made. I also try to reuse resources as much as possible. We don’t need to have pretty and new things everyday! There is beauty in repetition and making things easy for ourselves!”
Q: You’re a very positive person, but teaching can be challenging at times. What are some things you wish more people knew about the complex role of being a teacher in today’s world?
A: “This is such a big question because there is a lot that I wish noneducators knew. One thing I wish people knew is how much of our personal time and resources go into our classrooms and our students. We donate SO much time throughout the year to our jobs. I think a lot of people expect teachers to be on call and be teachers all the time. I wish more people understood that we are people before we are teachers. We are partners, siblings, children, parents, and we need to be given the space to be those things during our personal time.”
Q: How do you reframe your perspective on difficult days and what are your self-care strategies when you need to rest and recharge?
A: “Most of the time, I call my mom and just chat for a while. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I call her and just talk through everything on my mind and that usually helps me to make sense of everything I’m thinking. I also go for walks and listen to podcasts to try to turn my brain off a little bit.
Teaching can be such a challenging job and it’s really hard to leave that at school. I often find myself worrying about my students at night and whether or not they had dinner, if they’re safe and warm. I try to remind myself that I do everything I can to take care of them in school and make sure they know that I love and support them, no matter what. It doesn’t always work, but it’s the best I can do.”
Q: You have a number of things you make sure to tell your students every single day to encourage and support them. What are they exactly and why do you tell all your students these affirmations?
A: “One thing I want to make sure every student hears every day is that I’m happy they are there. It’s so important to me for EVERY student to feel valued, appreciated, and wanted in my classroom. So I try to start each day by telling students I’m happy to see them and glad they are in our classroom. My class last year wrote a set of affirmations and we recited them every morning. It was things like, ‘I am brave, I am strong, and I am confident!’ We call it our ‘daily dose of love.” I need students to be able to send themselves love and appreciation, even when I’m not there.”
Q: You’ve previously talked about the beaming pride you feel when your students learn to read while in your classroom. What are a few other aspects of teaching that make your heart sing?
A: “Honestly, I’m a fan of the underdog. The kids that come to me with a ‘warning label’ from other teachers. Those are the kids that I know need a little bit of extra love to be the student I know they are capable of. I feel so proud to see a student who came to me hating school and not wanting to be there turn into a role model. A lot of people forget that the students in our care are KIDS – some of them are barely 6 years old! I love being able to support my students and help them to reach their full potential.”
Q: You have a flair for fashion and love sharing teacher “outfit of the day” posts on social media. Did you always love fashion and what’s your signature style for the classroom?
A: “I’ve definitely always liked to look nice and professional. As a teacher, I need to be comfortable and be able to be on my feet ALL DAY. When it’s warm, I usually wear dresses because they’re easy and comfortable! In the winter, neutral sweaters are my go-to!”
Q: What are some of your top health habits that power your busy days?
A: “I try to do some form of exercise in the morning, whether that be a strength or HIIT workout, a walk, or some stretching. When it’s warm out, I try to go for a 30 minute walk in the afternoon to get some fresh air. I’m so lucky that my boyfriend cooks dinner most nights so that’s one less thing on my plate. Fortunately, sleep is something I’m good at! I try to get in bed at a reasonable hour because I wake up so early.”
Q: What’s one thing that your students have taught you about living YOUR best life?
A: “Kids are truly so special and I feel so lucky to work with them every day. They find beauty in even the smallest, most trivial things. One thing that my students have taught me is to slow down and find beauty in the things around me. I so wish I could see things through my students’ eyes but I do my best to see the good around me.”