Kevin Jackson, shares his experiences of using TikTok to engage with his staff, students and their parents.

Question 1

We’ve been amazed at how you’ve been engaging students and staff over social media. Could you tell us what inspired this?

Actually, it was because when our school district (Columbus, Ohio) closed down back in March 2020, we were trying to figure out how to get students engaged while at home because, during that time, we didn’t know what was happening or what was going to happen. After three weeks of us being off and nothing going on, the district said we need to do some remote learning, so they did a virtual ‘Spirit Week’. During that week, it was ‘TikTok Tuesday’, and I was like, “Ah, I don’t know about that! I’ve never been on TikTok. All I know is it’s a bunch of kids doing little dances!”

I downloaded it that Sunday night and was just scrolling through and realised it was so much more than just dancing. I saw a video called ‘Bored in the House’ and I thought, “Oh, let me make a video like that!” because that’s how everybody was feeling. Then, for TikTok Tuesday, I convinced one of my colleagues to do one of the viral dances with me, so we posted it, shared it and emailed it to our students. Since then, I have been making more and more TikToks. It was a way of reaching students using a system they were already using, rather than trying to create a new system that they had no idea how to use.

Question 2

Could you talk about some of the activities you have been doing on TikTok and what the response has been like?

For some videos, I will do little technology tips or reminders for students and try to add some comedy to it to keep them engaged. Last Halloween, we did a whole virtual Halloween candy competition, and we did it like a Starch Madness which uses the basketball brackets. We had everyone in school fill out Google Forms to vote on different candies. I would make a TikTok video every time a new bracket was released. I then ventured off and showed people I am a person; I’m not just an Assistant Principal and I’m not just a teacher. I have a real life and I do more than just teach!

It was funny, because I was in a Zoom class one Friday and all the kids said, “But do you know how you can get TikTok famous?” And I responded that I don’t need to know that; I can do it on my own! So, the next day I posted a collage video of me helping my friend build concrete steps and within 48 hours it had over a million views (it’s now sitting at 4.5 million). I don’t really know what I did, but I told the kids, “I know what I’m doing!” It’s fun to show them I have a personality and life outside of school. I mean, they see the same thing in school because I don’t put on a front for social media; it’s just putting my real life out there.

For the rest of the interview, including some of Kevin’s favourite videos, feedback from parents and his top tips, view the video below.

Author

  • Kevin Jackson

    Kevin was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. This is his 15th year in education and 9th year in administration. He is currently working as the Assistant Principal in the middle school that he attended as a student. He started his career teaching at the high school he attended as a student.

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