“I feel like you really have to up the ante when it comes to facial expressions and arm movements,” Mackenzie, the teacher, told BuzzFeed News. “I don’t think I blinked.”
Posted on September 16, 2020, at 9:01 p.m. ET
If there was any question about the hard work teachers are putting in while grappling with distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic, take a look at the intensity with which Mackenzie, 24, teaches her kindergartners about the number 4.
“Oh! I seen Brin is holding up the number two and two,” she says in a TikTok, holding up both her hands with two fingers out, with the cheerful tone you might expect from a Disney character. “That will also make four!”
Mackenzie, a teacher from Washington who asked to only be identified by her first name, just wanted to take a quick video of herself to see if she was projecting the right energy to keep her kindergartners’ attention. But the short TikTok posted on Monday instead gave people a peek at the vigor and hard work teachers are putting in while teaching during the pandemic.
Without missing a beat and the same liveliness, the video shows her drawing the kids’ attention to their screen, keeping her eyes directly on the screen and smiling unrelentingly, asking them what pictures they see of the number four.
“Grayson, go ahead and turn your microphone on for me!” she says with an unflinching enthusiasm.
Mackenzie uploaded the TikTok between classes Monday and it since has received nearly 2 million likes on the platform, with many people applauding her energetic teaching.
“The response has been wonderful,” she told BuzzFeed News. “I think the video has really given people insight into what early education looks like online.”
If you have young kids in distance learning these days, Mackenzie’s style will seem absolutely familiar — the over-animated hand gestures, the unyielding gleeful voice, the overwhelming patience, and the unwavering smile while staring directly at a bunch of 5-year-olds.
Even the placard of a microphone, reminding kindergartners to unmute themselves before talking, has turned into a universal teaching tool.
Some people who have viewed the video seemed to believe she was overacting, or at least acting specifically for TikTok, but Mackenzie explained that the energy she shows in the videos is genuine and necessary, especially when trying to keep the attention of kindergartners.
“I feel like you really have to up the ante when it comes to facial expressions and arm movements,” she said. “Online, you really have to amp it up.”
Not only do the young students have short attention spans and are brand new to the idea of attending a class via video conference, teachers have to also compete with all the distractions the kids might face when attending school from home.
“In order to keep 5- and 6-year-olds engaged you really have to do a performance for them,” she said. “I do think that teachers are actors and we have to put on a show for these kids to keep them engaged when they’re in their homes.”
“I wasn’t exaggerating for the camera or doing anything but teaching,” she said. “I was just trying to make sure they were looking at me and not their doggies.”
The video also shows Mackenzie guiding one of her students through “technical difficulties” as he tries to unmute himself.
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