Discover more from Cyborgs Writing
3 Reasons Every Teacher Should Be on TikTok
Especially if you hate social media
Especially if you hate social media
After spending two weeks with my students in Poland, I finally caved and made my first TikTok video ever. Now I’m convinced that every teacher should be on TikTok… especially if you hate social media.
Yeah, I actually hate watching most TikTok videos. The first plate of inane junk TikTok serves up is unbearable. That’s what has kept me from doing anything with TikTok for at least the last year. And I hate the automatic play. Being force-fed a pile of poop is not my idea of fun.
But as teachers who want to engage students … our duty is to understand what makes TikTok work and why.
We all can be more concise and streamlined.
Beneath all that junk on your home screen is a lot of interesting content that creators have made concise and easy to understand. That’s valuable, but not easy.
I’ve learned to by-pass my feed and do my searching on the discovery page. For example, Jeff Jackson, a politician running for congress in NC, concisely explains the specific legislative reasons gun control bills never even get a vote. Many TikToks also concisely communicate instructions for health hacks or DIY projects.
TikTok can be a great place to share core teaching ideas.
For myself, I’m learning Polish and found TikTok a great place to keep building on my these language skills. For example, @polishclasses does a mini-lesson every day. This is just enough to practice for the day or get you started on a bigger lesson.
If you’re looking for something to do with your students, TikTok videos can help show a lesson that you’re teaching in a quick and concise way.
Writing is like building with Legos.
Don’t just watch videos. Try to make one. You’ll learn things about digital writing that you can share with your students.
You’ll soon realize that digital writing is about making small pieces of content and putting them together in different ways. Does that mean everything students consume has to be 60 seconds? No, but think of longer content as a stack of micro-content that can be edited and rearranged in different ways … or maybe even converted into a small essay or activity.
Good teachers scaffold every class or project in small chunks … think of TikTok in the same way.
For example, you could find a list of videos by @polishclasses that connect thematically and create a whole lesson. Or if you are teaching the Pythagorean theorem, you can post an introduction, instructions on how to use it, then a short video on how it apples to other areas in life, like music.
You can even ask students for questions that you can turn into TikTok answers.
Engagement is more important than perfection.
I’ve spent a lot of my life perfecting teaching content, especially video lectures. As teachers, we have the idea that our teaching has to be perfect and polished.
That’s not what students are looking for these days. You’ll soon realize that being polished is not important. Students want authenticity and engagement. You don’t need to spend hours editing your content or writing your script. As long as you can keep clear and concise, students won’t care. In fact, imperfection can be entertaining or endearing, which will only increase levels of engagement.
Don’t be shy about making TikToks. It’s not about you.
You can start by watching other TikToks and seeing how they are organized. Find out what people find engaging and see how you might integrate that with you content. Then, start creating your own.
If you do that right, students might even want to be part of the creation process.
Teaching now is about including students in the creation process.
TikTok is a great way for students to express themselves creatively and share their experiences with others.
Students can also learn new communication skills and connect with others. So, if you’re looking for ways to encourage student creativity, TikTok may be a good place to start. It’s not just fun, but also educational. Students can learn how to communicate effectively through the use of humor and creativity. It’s a great way to get kids excited about learning.
The right use of new technology is more important than critique.
There are a lot of reasons to hate social media … just like any other platform. As teachers, though, our job is to find the good parts of these platforms and teach students how to use them ethically and effectively. When writing was first invented in Ancient Greece, philosophers like Plato complained that this new technology would ruin memory forever. That didn’t happen; we learned how to use writing in ethical and effective ways.
We can’t stop our students from watching TikTok videos, but we can work with them to learn the right way to use this new platform.
The next time you’re frustrated with social media, remember that it’s a tool. You can use it to help students learn and engage with the world and teach them what it means to use technology in meaningful ways.
Enjoy reading about new ways of thinking on Medium? Join with a membership for full access.