Today, Million+ follower, TikTok teacher, and creator of #TeacherTipTuesday, Megan Mayer, shares her thoughts about TikTok, how to prevent profanity on TikTok and why it is a valuable tool for teachers. Megan talks openly about what she’s learned about her videos that have gone viral, how to pick hashtags, and secrets for making videos that will help teachers. We end the podcast by discussing the controversial things teachers sometimes see doing on TikTok that we wish they wouldn’t. I’ve joined TikTok and am learning. This interview with Megan introduced me to TikTok as I embark on a learning journey on a new platform.
Advancement Courses for Your Summer PD
TikTok for Teachers
Megan Mayer, Reading and ELA Teacher
Resources Cited in this Podcast - TikTok for Teachers
- 10 Ways to Rejuvenate and Learn This Summer. – Sponsored by Advancement Courses
- Links to Megan Mayer’s Content – https://linktr.ee/Thecrazycreativeteacher
- 30 TikTok Stats for Marketers
- Hook Point: How to Stand Out in a Three Second World by Brendan Kane
Meghan Mayer (@thecrazycreativeteacher)
Sarasota County Schools, Florida
Followers: 1.2 million
Meghan Mayer joined TikTok in February 2020 as @thecrazycreativeteacher and had nearly 500,000 followers when she was featured on CBS’ The Greatest #AtHome Videos. The episode Mayer appeared in portrayed the struggles of teaching from home during the covid lockdown and included situations like Zooming into class from her bathroom and doing a parent-teacher conference in her closet. Untraditional? Sure. But during the pandemic, teachers did everything they could to be there for students and families. And, anyway, the view of Mayer captured in the CBS show would have been familiar to anyone who watched with her popular ongoing TikTok series “Teacher Tip Tuesday.” Two years later, a lot more people have checked in with the series—Mayer now has more than 1.2 million followers.
Mayer’s TikToks offer unique insights into the life of a teacher. Another is projects from her middle-school language arts classroom, which often feature the use of a Cricut print-and-cut machine. Those videos got the attention of the company, which offered her a sponsorship. (Cricut is part of a growing number of brands interested in working with Mayer.) The money from that relationship circulates back into the classroom. As a Florida Gulf Coast University profile noted, “Like many educators, [Mayer] ends up spending her own money on classroom amenities like parties, prizes and décor to enhance the learning environment for her exceptional-education students.”
Sponsor: Advancement Courses
Last summer, I took my professional development with Advancement Courses and was so glad I did! On my blog, I recently shared 10 Ways to Rejuvenate and Learn This Summer. All of the course ideas come from the advancement courses catalog to go to https://www.coolcatteacher.com/top10. Learn about some courses you might want to take and some things you need to do this summer. Your current needs should impact your professional development. Advancement Courses makes it easy to complete your PD with online and self-paced courses, so you can take them anywhere at any time with up to six months to complete. And right now, you can use the code COOL15 to get 15% off your course today. So go to www.coolcatteacher.com/top10 and decide what you want to learn this summer.
Introducing Megan Mayer
Today, we're talking with Megan Mayer, the Crazy Creative Teacher. Now, if you're on TikTok, she's got 1.2 million followers there. Megan, today you are helping me understand and get on Tik Tok because on April fool's day, for whatever that means, I got on Tik Tok.
Preventing Profanity on TikTok and Breaking Stereotypes of TikTok
I was starting to learn it and knew nothing except that if I heard a bad word, if I immediately went off the video, TikTok would stop showing me profanity. So that's a good little tip to know, Especially cause we're teachers. But help me understand TikTok and all the educators out there because I will admit that I have told kids, “oh, TikTok is evil. It's bad.”
Okay. And then I caught myself going, “okay, this is what was said about Twitter, this is what was said about blogs. So it's what we make of it.”
Megan Mayer: [00:01:00] Exactly. I was the same way when I first heard about TikTok. There have been many articles about TikTok about the different things they've seen when they logged on. And so I was very Wary of it, but I would find myself on Facebook watching TikTok videos, but it wasn't what I thought it was.
It would be like recipes or DIY projects. And so I decided to give it a go and got on there and realized what you said it is what you make it. So if you are looking for bad things, then yes, bad things will keep popping up, but they are getting a lot better with their algorithm and the way that they're censoring things that it's getting a lot harder to find wrong things.
They are making it a safer platform for everyone.
TikTok is the Fastest Growing Social Media for ages 15-40
Vicki Davis: Yes. And I read the other day that it's the fastest-growing segment for those aged 15 to 40. (Note from Vicki: That is changing rapidly, so see the current TikTok Stats I read this week.)
So, I'm definitely out of that segment. However, I told my husband the other day that one thing from having my broken foot is that I can die at [00:02:00] anytime, but I never want to grow old.
Megan’s Story About Joining TikTok
Let's do it. You've been on TikTok for how long?
Megan Mayer: I joined in February of 2020, so I got on before the pandemic hit and before we went into lockdown. I was already very quickly growing before that. The lockdown just made everything speed up a little bit more.
Vicki Davis: So, talk about your journey. You get on Tik Tok. What kind of things do you share?
Megan Mayer: So when I first got on, I was watching a lot of dance videos because I would be teaching, and my students would be sitting there going like this, just making dance moves constantly, and it was driving me crazy. But I also wanted to know what they knew and were seeing. So there were a lot of little inside jokes and things that they would say that I'd be like, “where's that from?”
“Oh, it's from TikTok.” So I would joke with them and say, “what if I got a TikTok?” And they were like, “oh no, nobody would follow you. Nobody would watch your videos.”
But then I had this group of students I had for two hours each day I teach reading. So I had them for a block period. To this day, [00:03:00] they're just some of my favorite students because we connected well. And they were like, “yes, do it, Ms. Mayer, get on. TikTok makes a YouTube like people would love you.”
I got on, and I watched for a little bit. I didn't think I would make videos because I don't know if you remember Vine.
Vicki Davis: Yes
Megan’s First Video That Went Viral
Megan Mayer: I loved watching Vine videos, but I just never got into making them, which is funny because, in high school, I did video production. I've always been just super outgoing and just a big personality.
But Vine was intimidating to me for some reason. And so yeah, I just got on TikTok and made like one or two videos, just silly things that had nothing to do with teaching.
In fact, at the time, I was on Instagram, and my handle was stylinginsix. Because I was a sixth-grade teacher, I chose a different username because I didn't want anyone to put two and two together and know that it was me. After all, I wasn't sure how things would go.
So I chose the username, the crazy [00:04:00] teacher. So my first teacher video was just a piece of paper where I made a seating chart. And it said basically when a teacher finds out that two students like each other and how maybe we'll purposely put them together to joke.
It blew up. I remember walking to my neighbor teacher and saying, listen, I'm not good with math. “Am I reading this right? Is this 750,000 views?” And it had been like eight hours, and he was just like, “oh my, a million views! And you posted this morning!”
And from there, I thought I wasn't going to tell my students, but we were having a conversation maybe two days later about Tik TOK. And I was like, I started a TikTok, and by that point, I had 30,000 followers already within just a few days. Wow. They were like, “you wouldn't have any followers yet.”
And I flip my phone over, and I'm like, “look at that,” and they all scream because they were like, “I saw that video, but I didn't know that it was you!”
Yeah, it just went from there. I [00:05:00] never, in my wildest dreams, did I picture that I would have 1.2 million followers. And you know, It's been a very incredible journey, and I've met a lot of really amazing teachers from all over the world.
It's been an awesome experience.
Vicki Davis: Okay. So talk to us. I know nothing. I'm learning. I uploaded my first little video this morning. Help me know where to start.
Finding More Teacher Content on TikTok
Megan Mayer: So really, knowing what I know now when I first got on. I must have been looking for teacher content. I don't know if it knew that I was a teacher or if I searched it, but immediately after getting the dances, I started getting teacher content.
And once I posted my first video with teacher content. I started to get a lot of teacher content. So let's say you're a teacher and want to get on TikTok, but maybe you don't want it to be teacher-related. Perhaps you want to do recipes or DIY, then that's what you want just to start searching for.
The Importance of Hashtags on TikTok
At first, I didn't think hashtags were a big deal, [00:06:00] like how they are on Instagram, but that's changed a lot. And it is all about that hashtag. I know a lot of times, people want to go viral, and they will use all of the trending hashtags. Sure, that can get you some quick views and maybe some quick followers, but if you want to be in it for the long haul, establish a loyal following that will get a lot out of your content.
How to Figure Out What Hashtags to Use on TikTok
You want to ensure that your hashtags are relevant to your actions. So I have tried to stay away from the trending hashtags because if I'm posting a teacher tip, I still have teacher tip videos from two years ago that still get views and comments because of the hashtag.
So the hashtag is your best friend and ensures you're not just following. Cause what will happen is when you go to put in a hashtag, it'll say trending. You can fit your video into that trending hashtag. Don't bother. And many people don't realize that you can [00:07:00] follow hashtags.
#TeacherTipTuesday Trend on TikTok and Instagram
So for example, I started the hashtag #teacherTipTuesday, and I started that trend on TikTok.
It was a trend already on Instagram, but when you search that hashtag now on TikTok, it has to be somewhere in like the 30 to 40 million views, but that's not just my videos. That's people using that hashtag. So at the top, you can click add to favorites. So then it doesn't guarantee, but it helps that when you're on your feed, you will see more of those videos because you've favorited that hashtag and are engaging with it a lot.
Don’t Engage with Content That You Don’t Want to See More Of
And engaging is another thing. If there's a video that you don't want to see or you didn't like:
- Don't engage with it,
- Don't comment on it.
- Don't like it.
- Don't save it.
Just swipe and keep going because whatever you engage with, they will show you more of it. I learned that the hard way, when I landed on the totally opposite side of town, and I was like, okay, I have to stop, like making comments, even though I wanted to, [00:08:00] because it TikTok is going to keep showing me these videos.
Vicki Davis: Yeah. one of my students who was disturbed by TikTok says, “it keeps taking me in a direction I don't want to go.” And now I understand better. What I can advise students is to swipe off it immediately.
A Tip to See Less of Videos – Hold Down on a Video
Megan Mayer: They've done a lot of updates, but if you hold down on a video, you'll get like a little menu box, and it will say, “add to favorites,” “report,” or “not interested.”
You can hide videos from that particular user, or videos from that particular sound, or you can just hit not interested. It will stop showing you those videos, which is nice.
What Kinds of Tips Should Teachers Share on #TeacherTipTuesday?
Vicki Davis: What kind of teacher tips make good teacher tips for Tuesdays?
Observations about Viral Videos
Megan Mayer: Very quick and easy. I've noticed that I try not to take offense to it, but nobody wants to see my face. Really good teacher tip that all of my videos that have gone viral or done well usually don't feature my face. And I don't think that's because people don't necessarily want to [00:09:00] see my beautiful face.
I think it's because. They want to see what you're doing. And I've noticed the same, like if I'm on teacher tip Tuesday and someone's just talking, and they're like, teacher tip Tuesday, this is what I do. I immediately swipe. Could you show me what you're doing? I don't want to see you talk. I have been guilty of that myself.
So when I make teacher tip Tuesday videos, even if, let's say, I'm going to talk. I try to show a finished product or something at least first to grab their attention.
Hook Your Viewer into Your Videos
So it's like I am a reading teacher, but I've also taught English. So, you're teaching an essay to hook your readers in. You want to have the same for a video. So maybe you're doing a before and after type thing, or perhaps you're doing a teacher tip, and you're doing something on a bulletin board. Show a quick image of them after, and then tell them what you did or how you did it.
Vicki Davis: I just finished reading a book about hooking people in (Hook Point: How to Stand Out in a Three Second World by Brendan Kane), and he says, you have three seconds. And he emphasizes that. Please show what you're going to give them, give it to them, and do it quickly.
Megan Mayer: Yeah. And that's really [00:10:00] TikTok. People do not want to sit.
I have people who've been with me since the very start. And they do like to see the videos where maybe I'm telling them a quick story or talking, but if you want to get the views, you've got to do it simply.
Vicki Davis: Okay.
So let's talk about one thing that I think is so important, people want to “go viral.”
What do you tell students when they're like, “oh, I want to go viral. Just like you.”
Megan Mayer: Like I just said to you've got to hook them in. a lot of it is almost that like shock and awe factor it's insane to me; my absolute most viral video is me taking this thing called The Bug Bite Thing that helps when you have a bug bite helps it not to itch. We were at Universal Studios; she got a bug bite. And so the whole video is me.
“Like my friend got a bug bite at Universal.” I used the thing, counting a couple of seconds and showing what it looked like after almost 30 million views. It's one of those things where when you scroll through. [00:11:00] “What are they doing?” You have to stop and watch. And so that's the biggest thing.
Two Types of Videos That Spark Curiosity – “Ewww” and “Oh!”
Vicki Davis: Some would say we're just feeding this ADD generation in terms of these little short pieces.
Sometimes the stuff that goes viral it's “ewwwwww,” and sometimes it's “Oh!”
There are only two flavors, “ewwwwww” and “Oh!” and the “ewwwwww” tends to go more viral than the “oh!”
How We Reflect Upon the Profession of Teaching on Social Media Matters
As teachers, we go on every platform. And we go there, and we're teachers. We teach with our lives.
I've looked at many teachers and some teachers, and I'm like, “yes, this is a person who's shining a light.” And they're fantastic.
And then some teachers I look at, and I'm like, “oh, please don't judge us by this.” Yeah.
Oh, it's cause teachers, you get enough grief already, and when they behave in a way that trashes parents, that's not who I want to be. So on your platform, how do you want to use it for good?
Megan Mayer: Another reason that I got on was, again, I was hearing the bad things about TikTok, and I figured if my students are on this [00:12:00] platform, then maybe at least I can be on here and be like you said, like that bright light for them, that positivity that perhaps if they see, my videos, maybe I'll see more of that on their feed. As time has gone on, that is something I struggle with is I want to be positive and be that role model for my students.
But I also want to advocate for other teachers and show that we are human and have lives.
The TikTok Videos That Make Megan Cringe the Most
I always cringe the most when I see a teacher in their classroom using an inappropriate sound and dancing inappropriately, or they're wearing something inappropriate, and they're in the classroom.
If it was someone that I followed, I immediately unfollow. I don't engage with them. I'm not here for that. But I cringe.
Seductive Posing By Teachers in the Classroom Is Not Good
There was a teacher that I had followed who posted a video of them, just posing very like seductively in their classroom.
And I think even that the [00:13:00] sound on the video was also not super appropriate, and the comments were like, I wish I had you as my teacher when I was a kid. And those are just really degrading comments. And part of me was like, “What do you expect when that's what you're posting? First of all, this is so inappropriate. You're not deleting these comments. And to me, if you want to do that at home and you put it on your TikTok, that's one thing.”
Showing that we're real people and we can responsibly enjoy ourselves, but I'm not doing it in the classroom. And I think that's another big thing.
Pick Appropriate Sounds
There's been this trend recently of a gunshot sound where people are like showing the negative comments they get, and it's like the “bapa,” and it's a gun. I've seen multiple teachers using the sound in their classrooms.
You might be on your own time, like your lunch break or before or after, but that's the kind of thing where if you feel you want to post that, do it at home because [00:14:00] what's going to happen is. These types of videos where we're being dancing seductively, or I sound like such an old woman but doing things that aren't appropriate for the classroom.
That's the kind of thing that will ruin TikTok for the rest of us, teachers because eventually, we're going to be told we can't film in our classrooms anymore because of all of these other teachers. They aren't being professional on Tik TOK in their classrooms. So that's always been my biggest thing.
Vicki Davis: Basically, that is a set. When you're using it, it's a set.
The Dark Side of Seductive Posting on Social Media
One thing I tell my students is that your worth as a person is not how many people follow you, who you follow, and what kind of person you are portraying into the world. But I will tell you; there is a dark side to the seductive posing. When you're all beautiful, I know of at least two women who have gone down a dark hole of depression because we get older, we age, and when we age, we don't look like we did. [00:15:00]
So I got onto social media in 2005. I don't look like I did in 2005.
Megan Mayer: You don’t look like you're in your fifties, by the way,
Vicki: Oh, I'm a happy woman. Joy does a lot for aging!
But anyway, I know of at least two women who, after having children, went down a very dark hole of depression when they couldn't look like it anymore when they couldn't doctor that photo anymore to look like they did back then.
And then they're like, “I don't look like that.”
Guess what? In 10 years, you're not going to look like that anymore. And so it sends the message that I'm worth something as long as I look like this. But we need to share, we need to encourage, and we need to mentor. We need to pass down this wisdom.
And I think those guidelines of a teacher not as sex objects. That's a really old stereotype that just needs to go.
Megan Mayer: like I said, being inappropriate and allowing your students that don't like, we can't stop our students from following us. You just can't. They can make so many different accounts.
Don’t Follow Students.
But if, Just [00:16:00] don't follow anyone you don't know or can't for sure say is not a student because that will get you in a lot of trouble. It will.
Vicki Davis: Megan is the crazy creative teacher. Follow her on TikTok, and I'm going to be taking a look at those Teacher Tip Tuesdays. And I don't know a thing about TikTok, but I do have a lot of tips. I'm now on Tik TOK learning. So I hope that everybody out there who uses doing TikTok will teach me something.
Vicki Davis: Thank you, Megan.
Megan Mayer: Thank you.
Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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