Meet the Teacher Taking TikTok By Storm
Who Doesn’t Need a Laugh This Year?!
Everyone is tired of hearing it, but this school year has been challenging. Whether it’s dealing with technology issues, digitizing your lessons, or engaging students you can’t even see, teachers have been on the front lines to keep our communities sane and functioning. So the question is, who doesn’t need a laugh right now?
That is precisely what drove a 6th grade ELA teacher to TikTok. Briana Richardson started the school year like the rest of us; being pulled in every direction and in need of something uplifting. And she found it in the unlikely place of online videos.
So Bri, the word on the street is you have an alter-ego, right?
“Well, sort of,” she offers with a little hesitation. Online, Briana is HonestTeacherVibes and she creates funny and satirical videos about what it’s honestly like to be a teacher.
"In essence, I say all the things we all want to say."
You’re TikTok Famous!!
“I mean, I don’t feel that way really…” Briana laughs humbly, but HonestTeacherVibes has nearly 130,000 followers and over 2 million likes after only a few months of posting. Clearly, people are connecting with her videos.
What inspired you to start making these videos? And why TikTok?
“At first I started just to put a few funny videos out there as a hobby. But I’m finding that other educators are connecting with the videos because they’ve experienced the same things in their classrooms. That’s what’s cool about TikTok, the reach is very authentic,” Bri explains. “If someone doesn’t like a video, they can keep scrolling, but if someone does like the video, they will follow you to see more. So you can really gauge if what you’re putting out there, people actually like.”
It’s pretty evident talking to Briana that she loves teaching and she loves her students. And TikTok is even changing the way she interacts with her students. “I think TikTok has made me a better teacher too,” she shares. “Because if something is not engaging, my kids will have that glazed over look in their eyes and I can tell when it’s not engaging. I also realized with TikTok, if your video does not catch their attention as soon as it’s on the screen, they’re going to keep scrolling. So it kind of made me think of my kids in class. What can I do to catch their attention so they are immediately interested?”
How has your administration reacted to your videos?
Briana explains that she was nervous to show her videos to her principal. She read the handbook cover to cover to ensure it was ok. In the end she says,
“The conversation with my principal brought me so much relief and so much clarity and so much peace.” He encouraged her by telling her what a great teacher she was and made her feel comfortable sharing her experiences in this way.
What do you hope other educators gain from watching your videos?
“I really hope they feel encouraged and find a way to laugh at the stuff we deal with. Because we really do deal with a lot, and I hope, especially when it comes to classroom management, that they think, dang, this happens to everyone around the country. So many teachers get on there and say things like ‘you have no idea how much I needed to hear that.’
"I want teachers to know that we are all in solidarity with each other and we’re going to stand up for each other, and our teacher tribe is going to be strong."
Mostly, I want educators to see that there are others across the country and we’re all in the trenches, and we’re all in this together, especially first year teachers.” Its evident Briana’s driving motivation is to be a positive force in education.
It’s been a stressful year for all educators. Have your TikTok videos helped you cope?
“Honestly, yes.” Briana says she loves the teacher tribe and the interactions with other teachers on social media. Social media can be a source of disrespect and an outlet for those complaining while hiding behind a screen. Briana says she’s experienced a lot of love and support from the teacher community because they ‘get it’.
"I’m speaking honestly to them and they are supportive."
What advice have you received from others that has encouraged you or helped you thrive throughout this unique school year?
“The people online. Their comments have been so incredibly encouraging. People contact me and say things like, ‘your videos are literally getting me through the pandemic right now.’ So knowing that other teachers across the country are encouraged and I’ve helped them to last; that is the biggest encouragement to me.” Briana shared with me a story of one online commenter who made her cry as he recounted the recent death of his mom, a longtime teacher. He said, “...watching your videos connected me to my mom again because she was a teacher.” Says Bri, “So then I just balled. The fact that a video on the internet can help someone feel connected to their mom who passed away. I mean, it just encouraged me so much.”
Briana Richardson is such an inspiration to us at SchoolStatus and teachers all over the world as she uses her voice to lift up and encourage her fellow teachers. You can find HonestTeacherVibes on TikTok here or Facebook here.
SchoolStatus is the district-wide communication tool that integrates key student data in order to increase communication among educators, district administrators, and student families. The company’s solution aggregates individual student data, such as state assessments, attendance, and grades in an easy-to-visualize format and offers the option to communicate with student families via call, text, or email. Through SchoolStatus, millions of communications have occurred on the classroom, campus, and district level.