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Abbery and Sari Beth smiling.

Abbey Clements and Sari Beth Rosenberg share a laugh.

September 18, 2023 | 1 comment

Heading into the 2023-24 School Year: Not a Short Trip Through Teacher TikTok

What a time it is to be a teacher heading into the 2023-24 school year. Check out this “not a short trip through teacher TikTok.”


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This is my 32nd year of teaching. That’s a long time to do one thing―working with young children. I love the kids―always have and always will. They are funny, spunky, challenging, bright and optimistic, and sometimes―perhaps even often―they see things clearer than adults do. The kids will always keep me coming in, even after the hardest days.

My mother was a teacher, though I never thought of going into teaching. That is, until I graduated college and started a job in publishing that I immediately hated. I had a strong feeling that I needed to do something more meaningful. One day, answering phones, it came to me, out of nowhere, like opening a gift you have no idea what could be inside: I wanted to be a teacher.

And 31-plus years later, I still have the back-to-school nerves that most teachers get, starting a few weeks before reporting back to school. You know, the dreams you have―that you forgot how to teach, that you can’t find your room, that you can’t control the kids.

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If only our overthinking brains would stop once school starts.

I never could have foreseen that which has been placed on the shoulders of educators within the last few years. For a moment in time, in the throes of a deadly pandemic, before we had vaccines, we were heroes. But that time was fleeting. Now we’re under scrutiny, micromanaged, questioned and blamed for things a playwright wrestling with the absurd couldn’t muster.

And so, I turn to teacher TikTok, where the absurdity of our daily lives is clear and unapologetic, laid out like carpet squares spaced out in a kindergarten common space.

To the tired, overworked, overthinking educators across the country: You are superheroes. You worry and care about every child by supporting, challenging, reinforcing, encouraging, guiding each one no matter the response you get -- and oh, you get the gamut of responses! The kids will guide you through, whether you started teaching 31 years ago or longer, or this is your first year. And though it may feel like you’re alone, there’s an entire community of us out there who get it. We see you and hear you, teaching away in spite of…

Record-breaking heat impacting too many classrooms across the country.

@burkeislegend Part two of the thermostat issue in reaponse to your many comments! #teacher #teachersoftiktok #teacherlife #teachers #teachertok #teaching #classroomdecor ♬ original sound - Burkeislegend

Mandates deterring teachers from teaching history the way it should be taught: truthfully.

@traviselikedavis #SlaveryNotbad #slavery #florida #standards #fyp #fypage @CNN #breakingnews #fortheLoveofGod #thisiswhereweare #vacationmoney #middleschool #reconstruction #skills #childplease #aintNoWay #athenajones schoolstandards #schoolboard #teachingdegree #teachers #news #desantis #florida #abbyphillip #cnn ♬ Get You The Moon - Kina

Mandates deterring teachers from identifying students the way students want to be identified unless cleared by parents.

@doubleminority Yet another way that they are introducing practices that affects all of us. #transrightsarehumanrights #transrights #transyouth #protecttranskids ♬ News, news, seriousness, tension(1077866) - Lyrebirds music

Policed libraries, and in some places, outright removed.

@houstoncvpe “It feels like [schools] are being taken apart, dismantled, destroyed.” Heartbreaking account from @Jessica Campos 💔 #HISD #HoustonISD #houstontx #houston #texas #Texaseducation #publiceducation #CVPE #communityvoicesforpubliced #BookTok #librarytok #librarytiktok #TakeoversFail #saveourlibrarians #saveourlibraries ♬ original sound - Community Voices for Public Ed

Challenging, outdated, high-stakes testing.

@heymswinbush State Testing has begun for my 3rd graders & this is how testing looks in my class! #teachersoftiktok #blackteachersontiktok #statetesting #teacherlife #fyp ♬ Snooze - SZA

Cell phones in class.

@leslierobcomedy What’s your opinion on this? 💭 #teachertips #teachertip #teachertiptuesday #teachertok #teachertiktok ♬ original sound - Leslie Rob

Teaching in the age of multimedia, distractions and immediate gratification.

@learningwithlauren To all the parents who limit their children’s screen time, bless your souls 🫶🏼 #teachersoftiktok #teacherstruggles #teacherlife #teaching #teachingbelike ♬ original sound - MORE ENERGY 😎

Staying late and barely having time to go to the restroom.

@heymshaut A day in the life of a teacher — after school edition (featuring my new classroom 🥳) #teacher #teachersoftiktok #teacherlife #dayinthelifeofateacher #dayinthelife #vlog ♬ Darling - Trees and Lucy

Rules and procedures put in place that don't benefit the students or teachers.

@strategicclassroom This article from Paul France on ASCD is a great read. This hot take on twitter is not. Should teachers have to submit lesson plans? What do you think? #greenscreen #teachertok #principaltok #teacherburnout #lessonplans ♬ original sound - Jen | Teacher Time Hacks

The absurd and traumatizing protocols implemented because elected officials refuse to enact commonsense gun laws to keep kids and school staff safe.

@forusapeace School shooter safety room built in Cullman Alabama. #thisisamerica #gunviolence #school #peace ♬ Dark - THIEF

On social media, follow @teachersunify (Teachers Unify to End Gun Violence)!

Abbey Clements

Abbey Clements is co-founder and executive director of Teachers Unify to End Gun Violence. She is a survivor teacher of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in 2012 and an elementary educator for over 30 years.

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Kelly Booz
Kelly Booz September 19, 2023, 12:55 pm

Love this, Abbey! So many stressors are placed on teachers. Thank you for being such an advocate.