TikTok Teacher: High school math made fun via social media to engage students

Education

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — When in-person learning was canceled for the remainder of the school year due to novel coronavirus concerns, Fulton High School math teacher Kimberly Callahan had to get creative to stay engaged with her students.

Before school was canceled, Callahan had heard her students talking about TikTok in the classroom. Once everyone was confined to their homes during the safer-at-home order in April, she decided to hop on the app. Since her students had inspired her join TikTok in the first place, she asked them what her first post should be. In early April, she posted a video doing a viral dance that received 200 likes. “They [her students] thought it was pretty funny,” said Callahan.

From there her content creation took off.

The “funny_math_teacher” now has over 50,000 followers on TikTok.

“I had no idea that people would want to watch a math teacher do random things to entertain her students,” says Callahan earning thousands of views on her posts, “but teachers are taking over the app I swear.”

Callahan not only uses the app to entertain her students, but to also stay connected.

“I needed to find a way for them to want to come to my [virtual] office hours because they were optional,” says Callahan, “so, if I posted some video, a kid would be more likely to come.”

While her students wanted to mostly talk about her videos in her virtual office hours, it was still a way to stay engaged from home.

Callahan is no stranger to producing creative content. In 2016, the math teacher teamed up with students to create a music video using the song “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” to help kids remember the Quadratic formula.

Callahan plans to continue to use TikTok this upcoming school year, generating ways she can use the app as a tool to facilitate lessons.

She recalls teaching a lesson about rotations back in February and a lyric, “I did a full 180” from the song “Don’t start now” was popular on the app at the time.

“I was like, ‘man I could have had the kids do a project on rotations with the TikTok song,” recalls Callahan, “that could’ve been an option for them to do. I’m sad I found TikTok now, but I’m for sure going to use it in the future in the classroom.”

Callahan is constantly looking for ways to express her creativity and TikTok is a way for her to do that outside of the classroom while still connecting with her students.

“Everyone always tells me my TikToks make their day or make them laugh, so just trying to spread some joy during difficult times,” said Callahan.

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