In many places across the US, students are still unsure whether they’ll return to the classroom when the school year starts. That means many students will end up learning virtually, something that teachers don’t have much experience with.
This fact has been a boon for Kayse Morris, who in 2018 left her job as an English teacher to go into the online learning space to empower other teachers. She tells Inverse about her experience in the Q&A below.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Kayse Morris, a small-town girl from South Georgia, and I'm 33 years old. I empower teachers to make their mark on the world by selling their teaching resources online. I'm talking about lesson plans, crafts, curriculum, online courses, memberships, subscription boxes, and more. I'm the host of a top-ranking podcast called The CEO Teacher. The podcast was created to speak to educators each week about taking their best asset in the classroom and using that to create a sustainable online business.
Every day, I wake up and ask myself, Is this really my life? How did I go from the classroom, teaching eighth grade English and Language Arts, to becoming an online business owner? It’s crazy to think that a mama to four wild boys and wife to a high school principal could do this. And although I’m a former English teacher, I still can’t find the words to tell you how my life has drastically changed in the past year or so. It's no surprise that teachers don't usually appear in entrepreneurial articles, but since I shifted my mindset and realized I, and every teacher in the world, have the ability to succeed in the online education system, my life transformed.
How have you conducted business in the past?
Prior to finding my way in the online space, I was serving 100ish students every 180 days as a classroom teacher. I loved my job as a teacher. I look back and hope that I made a substantial impact in the lives of thousands of students, but mentally I was struggling. Postpartum depression and complacency took me each day to the world wide web where I tried to find lesson plans other teachers created to make my life less stressful and seemingly “normal.” I could swipe my teacher debit card and have someone else do the work for me. A quick search on the internet took me to a website where I could pay a few hundred pennies and have my day mapped out for me.
”Teachers make the world go round ... without our educators, where would we be?”
Little did I know that I would actually find myself again. Each day got a little better because I began using these lesson plans to find my fire in the classroom that had been put out by raging waters of depression. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, it was as if the gray sky began to change into color again. Then I began selling my resources online to teachers and it lit a fire inside of me I've never known before. In 2018 I began creating a course on Kajabi that taught teachers how to do the exact same thing.
What immediate effects did stay-at-home orders have on you?
My course on Kajabi's platform was a wild success and I was back in the driver's seat. It felt great to be in my stride, but no one could prepare me for what 2020 had up its sleeve. You see, my ideal customer is the classroom teacher. When stay-at-home orders were issued, I began to think, “How can I serve?” I decided to go live with teachers five days a week on my Facebook page for the entire month after stay-at-home orders went into effect. No sales pitch, no gimmicks, just pure service. I brought in educators from all over the world that gave tips and tricks they were using in their virtual classrooms to meet the needs of their learners. Every day thousands of teachers from around the globe would tune in and bring fire back to a really uncomfortable situation. We lead with empathy and our following grew exponentially.
What were the challenges in implementing these changes?
Pushing out a daily live schedule was intense. Coordinating all of those teachers who were experts, planning their conversations, and continuing the conversation even after they had left the live wasn't easy, but it was worth it. We watched teachers rally together during these dark times.
What have been the results?
My company (myself and a few amazing employees) has created a multi-million-dollar business in the past 18 months with six figures in the past few months. We've helped thousands of teachers use their best assets in the physical classroom and support their families financially outside of the classroom using platforms including Teachers Pay Teachers and Kajabi.
What have you learned through adapting to a remote environment?
Life is going to throw you curveballs constantly. It's up to you to adapt and overcome any obstacle. Even if your ideal customer isn't in their ideal situation in life, you must serve them. You must lead with empathy, show them grace, and rally together. Teachers are a unique breed and let me just tell you, we are now seeing a revolution of what we've known all along: teachers make the world go round. Without our educators, where would we be? I want to be their biggest cheerleader and empower them to be their own champions.
What advice do you have for others who are trying to figure out this new way or working?
It's as simple as this: Every breath you breathe into your business needs to be based on service. If you aren't being empathetic to the customers who matter most to you, your business is walking a very thin chalk line. Truth be told, there's room for everyone on the playground in 2020 to make a huge global impact, but only the empathetic will survive.