Collaboration, Commiseration, or Community:
Teachers are speaking up. Unless you’ve been completely ignoring all types of news or media, you’ve probably noticed many teachers speaking out about the hardships of this job. From book banning to unsustainable hours to the tragedy of school shootings, we teachers are in dire need of some appreciation and good vibes. Many teachers are turning to each other for that boost we all need.
Thanks to the internet, teachers have started to build each other up and share inspiring ideas on social media platforms like TikTokⓇ and InstagramⓇ, and with it #teachertiktok, a whole new viral trend, or as some of my students say, a whole new way to be #cringe. While these social media platforms have provided quite the controversy, teachers from around the world are finding new ways to connect and learn from each other. TikTok was a start-up in the pre-pandemic world, and the social media platform’s popularity skyrocketed in the summer of 2020. Why am I talking about social media on a blog post about teacher appreciation? Because, now, more than ever, we should rally behind each other to save the profession we all love so much. And social media has proven to be an outlet for just that.
It’s Funny Because It’s True
Many of the viral TikToks and Instagram Reels come from real educators who have become influencers in their own right. These are accounts like educatorandrea who dramatizes interactions she has with students, highlighting the daily debauchery that is teaching sweaty, hormonal high schoolers. An early influencer, Gerry Brooks (gerrybrooksprin), first gained popularity on Facebook reenacting the funny conversations (or “cernversershuns”) that he has with parents. Adding elementary voices are gregisms, leigh_mctasty, and iam.mrluke, all delighting us with the hilarity of what happens in the classroom when little minds jump to conclusions. They are funny. They are true. They are creative and inspiring, bringing some levity to the increasingly cumbersome job that is teaching. Many times, they provide my proverbial carrot in the midst of a grading marathon… just one more essay, then some #teachertok.
Exposé or Exposure? Is there a difference?
In many cases, despite this outlet of support, teachers are choosing to leave the profession altogether. A simple search of #teacherquittok will provide story after story of teachers who’ve decided to leave the profession for various reasons. And these teachers freed from the restraints of professionalism are speaking up. One teacher account, teachingbelike, uses humorously hyperbolic–though not far from the truth–scenarios, describing conditions in other professions if they were treated like teachers. Lauren Lowder re-enacts unbelievably difficult scenarios she endured (or situations her followers have sent her) on her account, burntoutteachers, usually ending by telling the parent or administrator what she really thinks. Another account, annamsutter, simply tells it like it is–or was–for her as a school counselor.
The one thing these accounts all have in common is shining a light on the more difficult parts of the job we face as educators, all while making light of these tough situations. And we obviously love it. All of these accounts have a huge following–@teachingbelike has more than 70 thousand followers. Ms. Sutter, the former counselor, has more than 89 thousand followers, and Ms. Lowder boasts more than 568 thousand followers. Teachers are tired, nay exhausted, and we are looking for even a tiny snippet of entertainment and commiseration as we deal with our struggles in teaching.
Brushup on Your Skills
But, #teacherquittok is not the only teacher space on social media. I personally have found wonderful ideas for classroom management and great lesson plans, along with some much-needed encouragement, from classroom teachers of all grade levels.
Grace Stevens (gracestevensteacher) provides practical and realistic advice for teachers, as well as #hottakes on some of the more controversial issues. Do you need some classroom management help? Look no further than the classroom procedure man himself, Mr. Vlahakis on mrv_history. Anita Bond (a.bond.teach) also shares strategies for critical thinking and diving deep with growth-mindset on the forefront of her lessons. One of my personal favorites, myteacherface, compares a more traditional teaching style with a more relaxed teaching style through realistic and hilarious scenarios without condemning either.
We even have a Kansas teacher, westiesclass, providing great content about our state. And another teacher out of Oregon, Mrs. Gibson (gibsonishere) was featured on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt because of her viral videos about Chat GPT and what it means for education. (Spoiler alert, she thinks we must embrace it, much like we had to embrace Google and calculators.)
I think one of the draws to these social media platforms is that it has opened a whole new, virtual teacher’s lounge. A place to vent, to share concerns, but also a place to collaborate, share new ideas, and be inspired. It helps me stay sane and feel normal.
So even if social media isn’t your thing, I hope you find whatever you need for your boost as we close out the school year. May your teacher appreciation week be filled with kind words, students eager to learn (if not, then at least getting assignments turned in), and parents and administrators who show you how much you mean to them.
And In the words of Mrs. Gibson, “Thank you all for doing the good work!”
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