When Oconee resident and public school teacher Anna Brantley started making and selling educational resources in 2011 through the website Teachers Pay Teachers, she hoped to earn just an extra bit of income, perhaps enough to help pay a bill.
However, her success far surpassed her expectations. Ten years later, Brantley has sold over 132,000 teaching resources through her online business. Particularly with the pandemic, her sales don’t seem like they will slow down anytime soon.
Although she now teaches first grade in Walton County, Brantley fondly remembers her time working at both Colham Ferry and Rocky Branch elementary schools, during which time she grew her entrepreneurial endeavor.
“My passion and focus during this journey has always been to develop instructional materials to help make teachers’ lives easier and make learning fun for students,” she said. “I was inspired by the fact that I could make something and share it with other teachers and help them out at the same time.”
Brantley described Teachers Pay Teachers as an “Etsy for teachers shop.”
“You create materials for teachers to support the lessons in their classrooms…[like] place value games that teachers can download and print or spelling word games,” Brantley said. “I really want students to have fun learning and make teachers’ lives easier.”
She began by just offering items for the first grade level, but buyers eventually began asking for a broader range of K-5 content. Time went on, and Brantley evolved into a top seller with a following of 18,000.
“It’s all about getting your kids to love what they’re doing and love school,” she said.
Brantley spent last summer creating content to help meet the demand for her products.
“It’s exciting to know that my products are being used by students and teachers outside of my classroom,” she added.
When the pandemic and distance learning became realities in the spring, Brantley created more digital-focused resources for remote learners or for teachers who wanted less equipment in the classrooms.
Her most popular virtual tool is the digital number talk routine that is organized by weeks of school and progresses in difficulty throughout the school year.
“Teachers are able to get everything they need in one...it builds number sense, strengthens place value understanding and mathematical fluency, and it also encourages mathematical discussion,” Brantley said. “It’s mental math so kids aren’t using paper and pencil at that time.”
Brantley said Teachers Pay Teachers allows educators to connect with other peers around the world, from Europe to the Middle East.
She’s in awe of the positive difference she and others have made on the platform.
“I feel like when we collaborate and share together, it’s really powerful,” she said. “Helping others through a passion of mine is something I think is really special.”