Natalie Stuart knows how to get her students’ attention. And usually it means quoting pop culture.
“Identity theft is not a joke, Jim!” Her students may not recognize the reference from the hit NBC show 'The Office', but they know how to respond: “Millions of families suffer every year!”
It comes off a little unorthodox, but it works. The class quiets down, and Ms. Stuart can give them directions.
When the pandemic canceled in-person classes in 2020, Ms. Stuart, like every teacher had to adapt to distance learning. She first explored TikTok because her students asked her to learn a new dance on a video posted there.
Then, she began experimenting and posting her own videos. Her popularity has earned staying power: she now boasts more than 492,000 followers.
“I can’t believe this happened, I didn’t expect this to happen at all,” she said.
The third grade teacher has further cultivated the social media tool now that her kids are physically back in class. For her and them, it’s all about connecting.
“They feel like they come to school and they relate to someone,” she explained. “It’s not just like ‘I’m going to school to learn from this lady who’s gonna talk all day.’”
Rather, she says, it helps meet her Nova Eisenhower Elementary students in their comfort zone at the Davie school.
“It’s like, ‘I’m coming to school with this cool girl who knows what’s up, who knows what I like, who’s interested in what I like,’" she said. "And it just makes learning so much fun and that much better.”
When school campuses opened back up to students in 2021, Ms. Stuart’s class was the first to return to full in-person capacity.
“They want to come here,” said Ms. Stuart. ”Just like I wanna come here, because I want tp be with them.”
And then there are the Friday dance parties: choreographed moves during recess.
“It’s always such a hit, the kids love it. They love dancing with me, they love coming up with dances, or sharing which dance they wanna do," Stuart said.
And Ms. Stuart keeps no secrets about the classroom strategies that work. She posts about them on the platform so other teachers can take advantage.
“The best part about it truly is not just the bond that I have with my students, but more the fact that I am helping other teachers," she said. "That to me, is priceless.”
Sign up for our Breaking newsletter to get the most urgent news stories in your inbox.