From Teacher to YouTuber: 8 Questions with Bridget Spackman
8 QUESTIONS is a series of interviews with teachers who have effectively transitioned their classroom skills into new and exciting careers in the field of education. We at Teach.com believe that teaching is a rigorous and diverse classroom in and of itself; the skills learned “in the trenches” can translate into an exciting portfolio of professional options. From education tech to consulting, the only “X factor” is where you want to go — our interviews hope to shine a light on the steps it takes to get there.
1. What’s your name, location and current profession?
Hello there! My name is Bridget Spackman and I am a kindergarten teacher, blogger, and creator of The Lettered Classroom on Teachers Pay Teachers, YouTube and multiple social media platforms. I live in Birmingham, AL with my husband and two boys.
My daytime job if you would like to think of it that way, is teaching. I love my job being a kindergarten teacher and I feel as though this helps drive my passion and desire to do what I do online.
My YouTube channel has become my heart and soul of my business. This is where I can connect with inspiring teachers and those who are already in the classroom. I talk about organization, meeting standards and making connections through all grade levels.
2. Where did you earn your teaching certification and where did you go to school?
I think that how I came to be a teacher is what has made me who I am. I struggled for many years, not making the best choices, dropping out of school, and simply taking the zero of the semester. I was young and unsure of where my life was going. I had worked in the food industry and I loved teaching and helping incoming servers and kitchen staff. Looking back I could see the passion I had for teaching. After having my first son, I was ready to change my life and a cousin of mine helped me to decide in a career of teaching. From that moment, I was determined to do my best and make a life for my son. I finally graduated with the highest of honors from the University of Montevallo in May of 2012 with a bachelors degree in elementary education.
3. How long were you a teacher for?
This is my fourth year teaching kindergarten and I could not possibly love my job any more than what I do now. I began The Lettered Classroom in 2014 and was inspired to build a YouTube channel in the summer of 2015. Currently, I use the skills and knowledge that I am learning everyday in the classroom to help me share ideas and help teachers who may be struggling in specific areas.
4. What was the most rewarding part of being a classroom teacher? What about classroom teaching did you find most challenging?
Being a teacher is rewarding in so many ways. I am grateful to have the opportunity to watch kids grow in academics, social behaviors, and as little people. I love watching my kids recognize their accomplishments, triumphs, and just the happiness they get when you praise them for a job well done. I enjoy the times when my kids run in and tell me a silly joke or have something that is just ‘so cool’ and they can’t wait to share it. In reality, the kids are the most rewarding part. Every aspect that involves all those sweet kids is what makes it worth while. Even on the hardest of days and you feel as though you have lost all control of your classroom those same kids can make you laugh at a moments notice and make you realize that life is beautiful and simple and you should enjoy every moment.
Every job is not without it’s trials and tribulations. Teaching is hard work. This is definitely not the job that ever stops. You wake up thinking about about teaching, you go to sleep thinking about teaching. You have endless amounts of paperwork and organization/routine is priority. For me, knowing how to balance my work was a struggle. I can easily become obsessed over an issue that I may have and I want to fix it! I want everything to be perfect! Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. I have had to really learn how to balance my work and become a more organized and strategic thinker only to have new standards or strategies to figure out and work that into the balance. Every year is different because every year you have different kids; so you have to adapt to make sure that you are maintaining that balance and still meeting the needs of your students.
When I first started teaching I searched the internet to find inspiration and solutions. I want to be that for someone and being able to make someone else’s life a little bit easier or to make more sense of something is a fantastic feeling.
5. Why did you decide to transition from classroom teaching to your current profession?
To be honest, I’m a sharer. I love sharing ideas, collaborating with those around me getting ideas that inspire me and motivate me to be better. I started by following blogs when I was in college and I was obsessed with Cara Carroll with the First Grade Parade. I looked up to her and I would tell myself, “Yep, that’s gonna be me one day." When the day finally came and I had my own classroom I started a blog, at that time I was The Colors of Kindergarten. Sadly, my dream didn’t come true. I tried to start it up again but something wasn’t right. It didn’t feel right. Later, I realized that I was trying to be someone else. I was trying to be like Cara Carroll and I’m not. I’m Bridget Spackman. I taught for a couple more years and started to find my niche. This was what motivated me, got me excited, and frankly, I couldn’t stop talking about it. I finally knew what I was meant to do and meant to share.
In 2014 I came up with a new name and set out to make my mark. I do what I can and try to share what I am learning with those teachers out there who may need help with organization, planning, curriculum, and making subject areas connect. I am passionate about setting up a week that will help set my students up for success.
Early 2015 I became obsessed with watching YouTube channels. We decided as a family to not have cable since we don’t watch tv as a family. We stick to Netflix and other streaming networks. I looked to YouTube as my entertainment and wind down time. I am definitely a visual learner and I started watching hair tutorials (as sadly as it may seem), makeup tutorials and my favorite, planner tutorials! I loved watching these and I started watching more videos but geared towards education. It was then that I realized that there are simply not many teacher youtubers out there. Then I had an idea. My husband loves my ideas! I wanted to start a YouTube channel and share all my ideas and thinking. I started off doing my best to learn how to make videos and suddenly I took off. I had fallen in love with making videos and communicating with this community on YouTube. Now YouTube has become the heart of my business and where some people go home and watch movies, or have other hobbies, I take my day job into my hobby. I have grown so much and am now venturing out into other areas of social media.
6. What is the best part of your work now?
I feel like I’m cheating because I am living the best of both worlds right now. Since I never left the classroom I get to spend my day enjoying what I love and spending time with my students and helping them grow in all aspects of life. I get to be their nurturer, their teacher, their friend, their guide and their supporter. It’s the best feeling to help others. Then I get to go online and take my love for helping others but in a different way. I help inspiring educators, educators that are burnt-out and educators who may need guidance or fresh ideas to get themselves out of a slump. After all, that’s what I did! When I first started teaching I searched the internet to find inspiration and solutions. I want to be that for someone and being able to make someone else’s life a little bit easier or to make more sense of something is a fantastic feeling. Everyday I get wonderful comments on my YouTube channel and it only motivates me to be better and do more.
In all, the people is what makes my job fantastic. I feel as though we yearn for that human interaction and that feeling of being wanted and accepted for who we are and this job allows me to satisfy those basic human needs.
7. What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel in your current profession?
In many ways I am still perfecting my craft. Everyday, I see problems and think, “Maybe some other teacher out there is faced with this same issue” instinctively I want to fix it. I want to find solutions and spread the word to everyone. Often times, within my school teachers have told me that I can be a bit of an overload because I have so many ideas and things to try and it can be a bit overwhelming. So to satisfy my need to share and help I take my craft and skills that I am developing in the classroom to my blog and YouTube. Specifically, my craft/niche has become classroom organization, teaching standards and making the curriculum connect in a meaningful and real-world way, and creating a classroom community that helps build strong and confident citizens. I found that this is what I am most passionate about and what I feel as though I succeed in on a daily basis. So the problems that I encounter on a daily basis in the classroom have driven my social presence to succeed and stand out.
8. What advice would you offer a current teacher who is looking to make a career change to outside of the classroom?
The strongest piece of advice for anyone out there that may want to take their love for education online is to do your research, find your niche and learn to develop your craft. Be you. I struggled with in the beginning. I was so inspired by all these amazing teachers online and I felt like I could do that; that could be me. Only to find out that my passion was missing. I needed to find what I was most passionate about and what I felt I could contribute to educators. When you do anything with passion you can succeed. Passion and determination makes you successful not only in your career but also in your personal life. So take a step back and think about what you love the most and really work on developing your craft. It took me 4 years to find my craft in reading and writing and now that I have developed that craft I can say that I am ready to share it with everyone I know.
Bridget Spackman is a dedicated fourth year kindergarten teacher in Birmingham, AL. She lives there with her husband Trent Spackman and two sons Ian, and Blaine. Driven by her passion for education and helping those in her field, Bridget has created The Lettered Classroom on YouTube and multiple social media platforms. There she hopes to help others by offering ideas, advice, and inspiration to succeed in the field of education.
Blog: The Lettered Classroom
YouTube: The Lettered Classroom
Teachers Pay Teachers: The Lettered Classroom
Instagram: The Lettered Classroom
Facebook: The Lettered Classroom
Bloglovin: The Lettered Classroom
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8 Questions with an Elementary School Principal: Alicia Bowman
8 Questions with a Foundation Teaching Fellow: Meenoo Rami
8 Questions with a Lead Learner and Principal: Todd Nesloney
8 Questions with an EdTech Coach: Chris Aviles
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