Teachers Are TikToking Their Zoom Classrooms and It's the Only Good Thing About Dystopia


Eric Reads The News is a daily humor column which skewers politics, pop culture, celebrity, shade, and schadenfreude.

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Not only are the nation’s seemingly indefatigable classroom teachers coming up with new innovations to keep their students engaged in the digital morass of a virtual learning environment, but some of them are finding the time and the ingenuity to create TikToks about their experience, which keep me, an adult human, engaged in the digital morass of everyday life. A win for everyone! When the future sentient robot who is writing the history of this moment asks me what 2020 was like, I look forward to waking myself from a cryogenic sleep and removing my mask from my floating brain long enough to declare, “Oh it was awful, but the content was nice!”

It’s unclear if Great Leader is allowing us to enjoy TikTok this week or not, so please don’t report me. Actually what we need is a website that you can visit to find out if Trump is mad at the China-based online company at every moment. Call it StrawMan dot org or something. In any case, from my visits to HowAreTrumpsFriendsGettingRichToday dot gov it seems that the winds may be turning in TikTok’s favor and not a moment too soon. These videos posted by classroom teachers who have more energy, it seems, than a whole slate of PBS programming, are the best things on the platform.

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Take this video from a user named Mackenzie, which went viral earlier this week. First of all, I have never been so excited to talk about the number four. Four is it, baby! Is this what class is like every day? Sign me up! Let me find out there’s other numbers; I will lose my mind. It has been a hot minute since I’ve been in an elementary school classroom so I really don’t know if this is the level of fire coming at our young impressionable minds every day. If so, how? I drink roughly seven gallons of coffee every morning and I literally cannot think of one interesting thing to say after 11 am. Mackenzie is serving you the full Blue’s Clues experience with nary a canine in sight!

I love that she has the slight cadence of an auctioneer. These kids could be learning numbers or they could be bidding on a recently discovered Jackson Pollock. Anything is possible in school! And when Grayson got to turn on their microphone?! STUNNING DEVELOPMENT! What will Grayson say about the number four? Who is this Grayson? What will they bring to this electric environment? I haven’t anticipated a new character this eagerly since Olivia Pope got in the back of the car and came face to face with her dad. Let me find out Grayson is played by Joe Morton. Can you say tour de force?

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But then, twist, Grayson can’t get the mic to turn on. RELATABLE. I have spent the majority of the last seven months on mute, blithely mouthing words like I’m a dream figure in a thriller movie. Everybody on the Zoom is like “Can you be a little bit more explicit with the exposition? This is getting annoying.” And I mouth back “Wish I could, alas I’m just a mysterious ghost!” This is literally every Zoom meeting for me.

But Teacher Mackenzie is undaunted, hon. No audio trouble formed against her shall prosper! And do you know why? She has a SIGN. We dummies in the adult world have spent the better part of the year sitting in the one corner of the house that gets good WiFi, yelling at our laptops “Fred, you’re on mute! Fred! Can’t hear you! FRED!” and not once did we think to make a sign. Mackenzie is rolling through here like the first cave person to discover the wheel. And it’s got rims on it already!

It seems that the premise “use signs and graphics to communicate” is something that has spread through the teacher community, actually. Take this pair of videos from a TikToker named VividMichael explaining Microsoft Teams to kindergartners.

This content is imported from TikTok. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

This content is imported from TikTok. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Is this a multiplex on the opening weekend of an M. Night Shayamalan movie in 2002 cuz it is CHOCK FULL OF SIGNS. My dude made a sign for an ellipsis! I need that immediately. It will come in very handy when I’m pausing in the middle of a story but don’t want to be interrupted because I’m sort of on a roll. There’s a pin sign! Also very useful for when I want to interrupt someone who is on a roll.

Real talk: I did not understand how to work Microsoft Teams until watching these TikToks. I have tried, I have failed, I have decided that I just would not exist in a virtual society. I announced to my co-workers, “Don’t call me Lorde, because we’re not on each other’s Teams.” But they couldn’t hear me because I was muted. But all that is in the past thanks to VividMichael!

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TikTok and YouTube are full of videos of teachers who somehow find the time to not only design extraordinary classroom environments, but film them also. It’s a gift to all of us, but it’s also concerning when you think about the amount of work that goes into being a teacher in normal classroom circumstances (knowing of course that the definition of normal varies widely based on location and demographics). For every TikToking teacher, there’s thousands more who aren’t taping themselves but are still showing up with creativity and energy, be it on camera or in person behind a mask.

I honestly cannot believe what is being asked of the nation’s teachers, from the instructors who have to return to classrooms and to the one’s who have had to convert part of their houses into work areas, student packet construction stations, music rooms and more. I would say we should do something about this but 1) I’m still on mute and 2) what do I do? My first thought is perhaps I can create a Ponzi scheme that is more attractive to Betsy DeVos than education so as to draw her attention. I wish a teacher would send me a video with a sign. Like a sign that reads “Vote”, and also “Especially in local elections!” and also “Ponzi Scheme Idea is Good Too!” Until then, I’m going to support the nation’s teachers in whatever way I can, which primarily means buying every Joe Corbi’s pizza and overpriced wrapping paper I can get my hands on. I’ll do it for the kids. And also for the TikToks!

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