Juggling Influence and Impact: How Naomi Shannon Balances Teaching and Instagram Fame
Balancing a successful career and a strong personal brand takes dedication and time management. Naomi Shannon has mastered both. With nearly 100,000 Instagram followers on her account @sisterswho.hk, Naomi regularly posts content that garners thousands of comments and exclusive brand partnerships. Yet she also maintains a full-time position as a special needs teacher at Stamford American School Hong Kong. In both the classroom and online, Naomi embraces her authentic self as “your sparkly bestie,” advocating for those without a voice and emerging as an inspiring, aspirational figure.
In an exclusive interview, Naomi opened up about balancing her career and social media presence. She discussed the challenges she faced while building her personal brand, as well as the strategies that helped her overcome obstacles and achieve professional success. Naomi also shared advice for other women hoping to follow a similar path.
Naomi Shannon, Learning Support Teacher and Instagram Influencer behind @sisterswho.hk.
A Global Perspective on Education and Personal Branding
Naomi's international upbringing gives her a unique global perspective that informs her teaching career and online presence. Although she may not appear to be a lifelong Hong Kong native, Naomi moved to Hong Kong from the UK when she was 11 years old. She spent her formative adolescent years in the city, shaping her into the third-culture kid she is today. Naomi currently works as a special needs teacher at an international school, making her especially equipped to connect with and understand students with similar multicultural backgrounds. This helps her handle the unique challenges faced in her special education role. Naomi explains, "I work with students from all backgrounds, and I love that because I can truly connect with them in ways that might not have been possible otherwise.”
For her, her impact on her followers online is akin to the effect she aims to have on her students. She aims to create a positive and engaging environment for her classroom and online. She emphasizes inclusivity, empathy, and understanding in both her roles. Her approach to content creation on Instagram is similar to her teaching strategy, focusing on making engaging and interactive content. She cheerfully shares: “If someone can come to my Instagram page and leave smiling and feel better about themselves, I have done my job. That is the same for my students in the classroom.”
Inspiring Growth in the Classroom and on Instagram
Naomi Shannon offers valuable guidance for individuals seeking to cultivate a strong personal brand while advancing their careers. She believes in establishing a clear identity for your brand, stating, "Decide what your personal brand is. What are you going to stand for? What message are you giving to everyone?" She argues that clarity in purpose and message is essential in creating a brand that resonates with others and remains authentic to one's values.
Moreover, Naomi stresses the importance of structured goal-setting and accountability in balancing personal branding with career pursuits. She advises, "Set yourself goals... whether short-term or long-term, make a clear road map so that you know how to get there and hold yourself accountable for getting and reaching those goals." This strategic planning and maintaining a balance between work and relaxation ensures sustained growth and prevents burnout. Naomi says, "I structure everything, but I also balance relaxation and work." Her approach underscores the necessity of enjoying and valuing both aspects of your life – your career and your personal brand – for long-term success and fulfillment.
In the classroom- Naomi guides her students through understanding books at their own pace.
Naomi Shannon personally understands the challenges of finding time to balance a demanding career with a thriving social media presence. She acknowledges the potential for burnout when juggling these responsibilities and recommends a structured yet adaptable approach. "I have always been a girl who loves a to-do list," Naomi says, highlighting her method of setting specific times for her various activities, thereby maintaining a balance between her job and her online engagement. She says that this methodical approach ensures that both her professional and personal brand activities remain enjoyable and manageable over time.
Championing Changes in Special Educational Needs in Hong Kong
Through her positive life outlook, Naomi ensures that everyone is the best version of themselves. Tearfully, she recalls an inspiring story about a student on the autism spectrum who faced significant challenges in communicating and emotional regulation. Through her dedicated efforts, Naomi built a strong relationship with him, enabling the use of visual cues for expressing emotions and identifying a trusted person at school for sharing anxieties. This approach led to a remarkable transformation. The student, who once seemed unlikely to participate in extracurricular activities, took a brave step by joining the school play. This marked a significant milestone, showcasing his newfound self-confidence and willingness to engage more fully in school life. Naomi reflected on this as a testament to the power of fostering self-belief in students, underlining the profound impact of boosting their confidence and helping them realize their potential.
Naomi shows students how to wrap gifts for a Christmas event as a student council leader.
Naomi Shannon is passionate about advocating for changes in the field of Special Educational Needs (SEN) in Hong Kong. She recognizes the high number of students with SEN in Hong Kong and acknowledges the steps being taken towards inclusive education. "At the moment it is estimated that there are 57,000 students with SEN in Hong Kong," she notes, highlighting the implementation of the Integrated Education Policy aimed at supporting these students in accessing mainstream education and appropriate support services. Naomi's advocacy extends to the professional development of teachers in SEN. She stresses the importance of equipping all teachers, not just those specializing in SEN, with the necessary skills and knowledge. "Professional development being provided is a really key point," she explains, emphasizing the need for an inclusive approach that supports diversity in all aspects, including race, gender, special educational needs, or religion.
Authenticity is the Guiding Force
In her dual role as a teacher and social media influencer, Naomi's primary aim is to empower and instill confidence in her audience, whether they are students in a classroom or followers on Instagram. She strives to create environments where people feel motivated and inspired to be their best selves. "I always try with my online community to create a positive environment, and it is the same in the classroom," she explains. This philosophy drives her approach in both areas, encouraging her students to adopt a growth mindset and take risks in their learning. By seamlessly integrating these principles into both her teaching and her social media content, Naomi ensures that her message of support and empowerment reaches a broad audience, resonating deeply with both students and followers alike.
Naomi also cosplays as Disney characters for children's parties. In this photo, she is cosplaying as Elsa from Frozen.
Naomi's personality and energy are central to her ability to make a difference both in the educational field and on social media. Her approach to teaching and content creation is driven by a commitment to creating positive and engaging environments. "I think worldwide, especially in the last couple of years, we are moving towards really developing an inclusive approach and supporting diversity as a whole," she states. This philosophy underpins her work as a special needs teacher and her online messaging about education and support for individuals with special needs. Her belief in the power of education and her dedication to fostering a love for learning ensure that each student and follower finds joy and fulfillment in their interactions with her. Naomi's unique blend of empathy, enthusiasm, and creativity enables her to effectively inspire and empower a diverse range of individuals, both in person and online.
Fostering Diversity and Empowerment in Education and Online
Naomi Shannon infuses her approach to both her online community and classroom with the same energy, enthusiasm, and creativity, ensuring that learning is enjoyable, memorable, and relatable. "It would be boring for me if I did everything the same each day, and it would be boring for the students," she says, emphasizing the importance of creating a positive environment that is engaging and inspiring. She tailors her content to captivate her audience, just as she designs her lessons to be engaging and connected with her students, using their interests as a guide.
Naomi’s online persona mirrors her real personality. Her message to followers and connection to professional work emphasizes inclusivity for both. She advocates for empathy, understanding, and respect for others. Her goal is to support those facing challenges, especially those without a voice to speak up for themselves. This philosophy underpins both her content strategy on Instagram and her teaching strategy, guiding her online personal life and her professional endeavors as a teacher.