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Some TikTok teachers need a lesson in kindness

Nothing grinds my gears more than seeing children hurt. Especially if the person doing the hurting is someone they trust. I understand teachers are human and need their outlets, but if you’re posting on TikTok, take off the teacher hat first. 

TikTok has become a haven for video clips of all themes and styles. I’ve seen some funny videos, touching videos, and more than a few questionable videos. If you visit my TikTok, for example, you can watch me attempt to sing the alphabet in American Sign Language or see my three-year-old daughter color my face blue. These are just a few of the treasures now floating around the internet. 

I understand the creative freedom social media gives us to share our lives. I also understand the boredom accumulating due to COVID-19 restrictions. What I don’t understand is why a teacher would use the TikTok platform to mock students.

Teachers have a responsibility to protect

As students, we should understand this concept better than most. We share some personal things with our teachers. Even now, in university, I’ve written some deeply meaningful personal essays knowing my professor is going to judge that work. 

If I saw a TikTok video of my creative writing professor reading my work aloud, I’d probably curl up and blow away, or cry. This is coming from an adult, a mother, and someone who generally takes criticism like a boss. So, I can only imagine the way a young child might feel, seeing their work, questions, or personality mocked. 

It’s all fun and games until…

The draw of digital popularity is strong and I know people love a good laugh. Heck, I love a good laugh. But I don’t think laughter at the expense of those younger and less experienced than us is a “good” laugh. 

Leigh McClendon is a great jumping off point for the topic of TikTok teachers. A report by the Associate Press confirms McClendon is a real teacher, and that he got permission from his school’s principal to shoot videos in his classroom. 

McClendon role plays elementary aged children and reacts to their comments as himself. It goes without saying these role plays aren’t complimentary. Students are portrayed as inappropriate, often picking their noses, and showing their bellies. 

It’s not a nice representation of his teaching style or empathy for young learners. 

Unsupportive teachers should shhh

Recently, I stumbled across an account owned by teacher Tyler Jackowski. His account, fishin4clout shows his life as a teacher at Mission Grammar School in Roxbury, Massachusetts. 

One video he posted really struck a nerve with me. It displays drawings his students made, with the caption, “When you want to be supportive of your student’s art, but it gives you nightmares.”

The clip then goes on to show student drawings. A remixed sound clip is heard in the background repeating, “emotional damage”, again and again. 

Maybe I didn’t play Five Nights at Freddy’s as a kid, but I watched Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark. I drew my fair share of creepy things. 

I don’t think it’s funny to mock something a child puts effort into, whether it gives you nightmares or not. 

#Funnyteacher gone wrong

Another TikTok teacher is Madison Jantzen. Her social media accounts and other sources suggest Jantzen has since taken on content creating full time, but was recently a kindergarten teacher. 

Her content isn’t as obvious as McClendon or Jackowski’s, but one video airs on the side of teasing. It shows her “teacher copy” of a George Washington drawing followed by two examples of her student’s work. The hashtags #funnyteacher and #funnyteachermoments along with the jokey music don’t make an argument for teacherly love. 

Grow up TikTok teachers

I have great respect for teachers. Especially our teachers here in Nova Scotia teaching through the pandemic. I have close friends who work in elementary schools, and I know it’s a tough job. 

I’m also a mother. And as a mother I don’t want to see the adults I trust my babies to for six hours a day mocking children on the internet. This does not bring me joy. 

So, to all the TikTok teachers out there. I get that you want to share your life and you’ve got stuff to vent, but there are better ways to do it. Leave the children out of it.

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