Five TikTok Famous Teachers Everyone Should Follow
With millions of followers, these exceptional teachers share their classrooms with students and teachers all over the world
Since launching in 2018, TikTok has wasted no time in becoming the world’s hottest—and most popular—social media platform. In September 2021, it boasted more than 1 billion monthly users; by the end of the year it surpassed Google as the world’s most visited domain. Gen Z is among the heaviest users of TikTok, but high schoolers aren't just watching each other pull off dance challenges. Turns out they're also learning from teachers they’d typically only encounter in the classroom.
The covid-19 lockdowns were a big reason why. During the pandemic, teachers began teaching over Zoom and other video conferencing services. For some educators comfortable in front of the camera, it wasn’t much of a leap to take their talents to mobile screens. Fortunately, millions of TikTok users were ready to watch. And learn.
One Minnesota high school social studies teacher, for instance, went viral in a big way. Posting as @Silb0017, Kevin Silberman recently racked up more than 11 million views explaining the term "once removed" using only his classroom's dry erase board. Silberman isn’t a one-off. A hashtag on his video, #teachersoftiktok, has garnered (as of this writing) 22.7 billion views. Many of the tagged videos are created by a cohort of "TikTok famous" teachers who boast more than a million followers each, with their videos viewed millions of times.
It's easy to get lost in #teachersoftiktok. To help you navigate it, we’ve assembled this list of five TikTok-famous educators from around the U.S. everyone—students and teachers alike—should follow.
Claudine James (@iamthatenglishteacher)
Malvern Middle School, Arkansas
Followers: 3.3 million
Claudine James was already a celebrated educator when, in November 2020, she won the monthly Honored National Teaching Award for her work as a seventh- and eighth-grade English teacher. The next month, on the advice of her students, she launched her TikTok account. (This after an attempt to utilize YouTube for her grammar lessons failed to get much of a following.) Her students helped fill out James' first-day follower total of around 70. A week later, it grew to 10,000. Her account, @iamthatenglishteacher, now boasts a massive 3.3 million followers (and counting) drawn to her simplified approach to teaching language skills to a worldwide audience.
"I am considered an overachiever and a go-getter, and I do whatever is necessary to get my students to learn English, inspiring them and motivating them,” James said in a March 2021 interview. She added that English as a Second Language (ESL) students are a big driver of her views. One follower even messaged her to say, "’Everyone in Brazil loves you. We all follow you because you help us learn English,’” she recalled. “So I've expanded my classroom a little bit."
Justin Behm (@justinbehm)
Wayland Academy, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
Followers: 1.1 million
Justin Behm 's video lessons on crafting ceramic artworks are impressive enough to have garnered more than 1.1 million TikTok followers. They're even more resonant when you realize the art teacher you're watching work at his pottery wheel was born without a right hand. While @justinbehm has gone viral with humorous clips about that right arm, he has also produced popular pieces evoking Disney characters and astrological signs, connecting with TikTok's younger audience through storytelling while he works. One recent video, where he crafted a mug while reminiscing about receiving permission to use a new swear word on different childhood birthdays, has racked up 1.5 million views.
Like Claudine James, Behm joined TikTok after his students recommended it. In September 2021, after more than a year on the platform, the educator reached 1 million followers. He creates videos in his studio while balancing a busy daily schedule of teaching, dormitory supervision, and school photography—all in a day’s work for a TikTok-famous teacher. "He is now getting recognized in public, like by the checker at the grocery store,” a Madison.com profile noted, “and recently did an ad campaign with Bose."
Rebecca Rogers (@rrogersworld)
Wake County Public School System, North Carolina
Followers: 2.2 million
Rebecca Rogers was inspired to become a social studies educator by her high school AP U.S. History teacher. But when she joined TikTok in October 2020, as @rrogersworld, it had nothing to do with extending her lessons. Rather, it was out of a concern for the mental health toll the covid-19 lockdown took on her students. As Rogers told the Side Hustle School podcast in early 2021, her first dance videos on the platform were part of "a plan to make a fool of herself for her students' enjoyment," using the logic that, "if they could see her acting ridiculously, they might get a little extra cheer for a day in what was becoming an increasingly tough year." Rogers' students, friends, and family helped build her following to 1,000 in a few days.
But when she hit 10,000 followers, Rogers realized the financial possibilities of being "TikTok famous." That threshold gave her access to the platform's creator fund, and with advice from @mrs.bench (“The Original Fidget Toy Queen”), Rogers harnessed a three-pronged approach that Side Hustle School host Chris Guillebeau summed up as "posting every day, targeting popular trends, and releasing videos in a series." Those series include "Things Said in Classrooms" and "I Don't Get Paid Enough,” the latter referring to funny classroom situations while evoking the very real financial concerns faced by many teachers. Before TikTok, the mid-20-something Rogers recently told interviewer Ming Zhao, "I loved teaching more than anything. Unfortunately, the unsustainable nature of education showed me I likely wouldn’t be in a classroom for the full 30 years I imagined as a little girl." After less than six months on the platform, though, Guillebeau described Rogers' newfound income prospects, noting "she's now consistently bringing in at least $2,000 a month. Beyond that, Rebecca has been offered sponsorship deals (of which she's very selective about what she accepts), and has been approached to be in a fan fiction film, as well as another film about TikTok teachers."
Josh Monroe (@mrmonroeandnala)
Bryan Elementary, Omaha, Nebraska
Followers: 1.3 million
Josh Monroe's teaching TikToks, posted as @mrmonroeandnala, are often aimed at fellow educators, offering good examples of how to handle a variety of classroom situations. That focus began with an empathetic video lesson about engaging a sleeping student (which has more than 10 million views). A recent TikTok, meanwhile, centered on how to talk to upset parents about taking a student's phone. "In a time when teachers are criticized for nearly everything that we do, I think it's important we put out the awesome things we do and ways we help students as a whole," Monroe told the Omaha World-Herald. "Not in the academic sense and just focusing on test scores, but how we help students be ready to inherit society.”
A reason for his older demographic approach is that Monroe teaches fifth grade. Like other social media, TikTok is legally prohibited from allowing kids under 13 to have accounts. But it was the absence of his young students from Zoom classes at the onset of the covid-19 lockdown, in 2020, that inspired Monroe to join TikTok in the first place. He posted humorous videos with his little white classroom therapy dog, Nala, which he would then show to the students who showed up to his Zoom classes. From that humble start, Monroe has amassed more than 1.3 million followers. What keeps them watching is Monroe’s flexibility in engaging with his students. “I’m not going to try and make them think math is the most important thing,” Monroe told the World-Herald. “If they love dirt bikes, I’m going to try and take math and dirt bikes and put them together. I'm going to love these kids for who they are. I’m not trying to make them who I want them to be.”
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."