“Students recognize me as ‘that TikTok teacher’": Meet the Etobicoke educator going viral for her stylish outfits

Ultra-chic middle school teacher Zahra Hassan talks raking in millions of views for her Gen Z–approved outfits and encouraging self-expression in the classroom

By Isabel Slone| Photography by Vonny Lorde
"Students recognize me as 'that TikTok teacher’": Meet the Etobicoke educator going viral for her stylish outfits

After Zahra Hassan’s students took note of her effortlessly trendy outfits, they persuaded the 28-year-old middle school teacher to start sharing her looks on TikTok. Posting as @misswondroussoul, she’s since proven that teachers can break free of clichéd wardrobe pieces like button-ups and knee-length skirts—and picked up millions of views along the way. We spoke with Hassan, who teaches eighth-grade art and math in Etobicoke, about her Gen Z–approved style, her fashion tips and how her videos go hand-in-hand with her teaching philosophy.

You recently achieved bona fide cool teacher status by going viral on TikTok for your style. When did you start posting? I was teaching a virtual class in September 2021, and every day my students would be like, “Miss, your outfit is so nice.” By the end of the week, they were saying, “Miss, you have to make a TikTok. You’re so fashionable.” At first, I wondered if anyone would want to see teacher content, and I also didn’t know how to edit videos.

What convinced you to make the leap? My main motivation didn’t have anything to do with fashion. I wanted to show young people that they can have their dream career even if their capabilities have been doubted. When I was in high school, my guidance counsellor suggested that I go the college route—I believe his own bias made him think that Black students weren’t capable of excelling in university. But I’m not one to let anything stop me, and now here I am, a teacher. I felt I could make a difference by being visible online. So I decided to listen to my students, and I made a post of all the outfits I had worn that week. It blew up, and it’s now received more than 450,000 views. By the next month, when we were back to in-person classes, most of the students recognized me as “that TikTok teacher.” They would be on their best behaviour because they thought I was so cool.

What’s it like going viral? Overwhelming, but everyone has been so supportive, including parents and my fellow teachers and staff. Friends of mine and older students will say, “I wish I had you as a teacher.” That’s the greatest compliment an educator could receive—especially one who is new to the game, like me.

It’s unusual to see someone who’s an educator and a fashion icon. Growing up, I could tell what subject a teacher taught based on what they were wearing. My sense of style is different from regular “teacher fashion” because it’s very versatile. I wear clothes that represent how I’m feeling that morning. One day I may feel great and put on a power suit, then the next day I may feel more fun and wear a funky shirt with some cargo pants and my favourite pair of sneakers.

Where do you turn for inspiration? I grew up watching shows like America’s Next Top Model, So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew. I loved the ways contestants mixed different aesthetics. I don’t conform to just one look. I draw a lot from Japanese and Korean street culture: items like cargo pants and jackets that are clean-looking but bold. I don’t shy away from colour—I like to incorporate bright orange, neon green and mint. I also like to mix up different eras: ’80s, ’90s, early 2000s. Sometimes I put together more futuristic looks.

What’s your favourite piece right now? Definitely the light-blue suit I bought from Zara. I got it three years ago on my birthday.

Do your students ever ask you for IRL fashion advice? Last year, they made me do an entire lesson on how to put outfits together. Their request coincided with the financial literacy unit, so I assigned them a theoretical budget of $70 and asked them to build a great look from top to bottom, including accessories. One tip I gave them was: you cannot go wrong if you have a statement piece. A jacket, really nice shoes or a funky T-shirt. If you wear something striking and dim down the accessories, you will be fashionable. After that assignment, one student actually bought his first pair of Jordan 1s and matched them with a white T-shirt and black cargo pants. It was beautiful to see him applying what he’d learned.

Zahra Hassan is a high school teacher, but she's also a viral TikTok star. Her effortlessly cool fashion has earned her millions of views.

Do your students ever give you advice, particularly when it comes to TikTok? For sure—sometimes I post things just because they tell me to. They’ll teach me a dance to a Rihanna or Mariah Carey song. They’re the biggest supporters I have.

How else do you decide what to post? I’ll scroll through TikTok and hear a trending sound, an audio clip that’s going viral, and it’ll remind me of something that happened in class. For example, the audio of Khloe Kardashian talking to Kris Jenner about why she’s crying reminds me of when students ask me for an extension and, when I ask why, they say, “I didn’t do the work.” I also share more practical videos for other teachers. Sometimes I’ll have a lesson go so well that I think, “I have to share this resource with the world.”

What’s your favourite trending sound? Anything by Ice Spice.

How does being a viral TikToker gel with your teaching philosophy? With me, students know they’re getting a real human being. Yes, I am a teacher, but I’m also a lifelong learner. I want to create a space where they feel safe enough to take risks and not be judged. I don’t want to silence them; I want them to use their voices and know that their identities matter, their experiences matter, their cultures matter. Plus, I like showing my students that, as a teacher, you don’t have to be rigid and strict—you can have fun and express yourself. School isn’t meant to be boring.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


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