TikTok teaching: The new trend challenging traditions

Words and video by Daniel Ajose, ITV News Assistant News Editor

Could more teachers move to TikTok to try to reach their students?

Since the pandemic, young people’s social feeds have been looking more and more like the classroom as educators attempt to bridge the knowledge gap left by various lockdowns and disruptions.

Emmanuel Wallace, known by his followers as Big Manny, has amassed millions of followers on TikTok, posting approachable and easy to understand content and practical experiments.The ex-teacher who has been posting videos since the pandemic.

"I prepared experiments for the students and did demonstrations for them, just to show them how it works - and that's actually how I started creating the science videos," he told me.

“I just try to make it more relatable for them [the students] and break it down in a way that even somebody who doesn't have a background in science would still able to understand."

Matt Green is another ex-teacher who has taken his craft to social media.

He got creative with it and raps his way through the science curriculum.

Similar to Manny, Matt started teaching on social media during the Covid-enforced break and three years in he’s still making a difference. 

"My reason for picking rapping was to find a way that's quick and easy to explain complex things," he explained.

"Because it rhymes and has rhythm, you want to learn it and then the lyrics just get stuck in your head. I'm now getting into the third year of doing this and the messages I'm getting from students proves that the idea was correct."

Matt believes that social media teaching is "a massively helpful way to support the classroom" but says it's a shame teachers working in classrooms have limited time to "plan entertaining lessons".The need for new engaging ways to reach students outside of school but within school hours is growing.Roughly 630,000 pupils missed school in the autumn terms of 2022 and 2023 - that’s around seven Wembley Stadiums' worth of students not in class.That's seven and a half per cent of school-goers, a clear rise from the absentee figures before the pandemic, when it was consistently recorded below five per cent.

Credit: AP

Most of the last year's absences were due to illness, which accounted for four and a half per cent of the overall absence rate, and also included confirmed cases of Covid.But will teachers get the chance to invest the time to reach their students missing from class?

According to the National Education Union, teachers are entitled to PPA (planning, preparation and assessment) time, set at a minimum of ten per cent of their timetabled teaching time.

PPA time is allocated for a teacher to complete their duties away from the children in their care and some teachers will have more than ten per cent. The union supports PPA time of 20 per cent.But, for now, it seems the educators dominating TikTok are also having to do their work outside of school to generate the most eye-catching content.