What does it mean to be a TikTok teacher? Why do I use TikTok (or any social media platform for that matter)? And what makes it an effective use of my time? All are valid questions. Some may say ‘that’s so unprofessional’, or ‘I would never do that’, but there is more to it than what you see.
As a second year teacher, I am here to change the game a little, ruffle some feathers, and show the joys of chemistry, of science, of teaching, and how you can effectively build relationships with your students even if you are remote. As of right now, I have 15,000 followers on TikTok, around 2 Million views on my videos, and 300,000 likes throughout all of my videos.
I personally have learned so many things from the amazing and wonderful community of teachers on TikTok. The mindset is all about continued growth and adaptation. I have learned more through this app and from some of the teachers on this platform than I have in most of the PD experiences that I have ever had. The community on Tiktok has shared so many resources and inspired me to be the best possible educator I can be. I have been able to do fun things with my students such as, create interactive Bitmoji classrooms, virtual escape rooms using Google forms, animated Google classroom banners/themes, and more. It is incredible!
Last year my students called me Chemist Scott, so naturally my username on TikTok became @Chemistscott and my journey started from there. When COVID hit in March 2020, I was teaching asynchronously and that was a miserable experience. I missed the connection with my students every day, I struggled with maintaining my own mental health, and there were so many other factors that just made teaching while in quarantine so insanely difficult. I originally downloaded TikTok to try and connect with other teachers to get teaching tips on how to maintain academic integrity, engage my students with different activities and learn about different perspectives and strategies for how to approach online learning.
One thing that I would like to preface is that I absolutely LOVE my job, and love the profession; but especially during this time it is so incredibly easy to get burnt out. Teachers, now more than ever, are feeling extremely overwhelmed and overworked. It just never seems to end, there is always something else, a new change, a new protocol, inability to connect with students, and it seems like we are barely holding on. This app has such an amazing and wonderful community of teachers that have turned into really good friends of mine, and I have been able to create an excellent network of support. I have gained a lot of tips, tricks, and new different approaches on delivering content online, hybrid, and in person. This platform has allowed teachers to share some of the wonders, the struggles, the humor, the best, and worst parts within the profession.
I encourage you to ask yourself is WHY you become a teacher? This profession, now probably more than ever, has become more about building relationships with our students and less about the content. Not to say the content is not important, but making our students feel comfortable when they are with us, making sure they are safe, and know that they are cared for will make teaching the content and classroom management easier and more enjoyable. I have had so much fun on this app, made so many new relationships, and allowed people to see the wonders and joys of science and teaching. This has made the entire experience totally worth it, it shows my students that I am a person too, it makes me more relatable, and it aids in creating an environment that my students look forward to coming to.
Students today really struggle with maintaining focus. This is a recurring theme that seems to be become more and more prevalent as the years pass. Creating content videos using popular trends, allow me to engage my students and enhance their learning. As a chemistry teacher, I have started a series on TikTok called Molecule Monday’s, where I do a dance and share facts about different molecules. The inspiration came from a conversation I had with another TikTok teacher (@mrs_miller) about how I can bring the world of chemistry onto my platform. I also recently started a new series called Chem Talk Tuesdays, where I pick a topic in Chemistry and I do a short clip on tips/tricks on how to remember different chemical concepts. I do not use this as part of my formal instruction. But when I do fun demonstrations in person, I will record them. The ability to build this kind of relationship with my students has been incredible and has made virtual teaching more of an open discussion rather than me talking to a sea of black squares with students’ names on them. My students actively participate and are not afraid to ask questions. This app has allowed me to share some of the fun in Chemistry, teach people about the WHY things happen and engage my students on a whole different level, and I am excited to continue along this journey.
Some science teachers you may want to consider following on TikTok
- @coolchemistryguy (although not a teacher, does have a lot of interesting demo videos)