Two teachers in Georgia are hoping to make online learning more fun with a rap to welcome their students back.
For the last three years, Callie Evans and Audri Williams, teachers based in Dougherty County in Albany, have been producing back-to-school jams for students at Monroe Comprehensive High School.
Dougherty County was hit hard by the coronavirus, so the school district has been out of the classroom since March.With the unknown that comes with the pandemic, the teachers said they felt it was especially important to motivate their students as they return to school virtually.
“We didn’t know what was going to happen,” Evans told CNN. “They were used to being in class. So, we just wanted to kind of motivate them and engage them and make sure they were excited for what was to come even though it was unknown.”
This year, the teachers did a remake of Jack Harlow’s “What’s Poppin,” a hit that’s popular with Gen Z thanks to TikTok. Williams and Evans wrote the lyrics themselves, and recruited the school’s cheer team as back-up dancers.
“Yeah we virtual, and you know what’s up, so we ‘bout to take it up a notch and Monroe is the best, no comparing,” the teachers rap. “We at the top, all truth no daring. CTAE, Fine Arts, and sports, man I want it all to my self no sharing. COVID-19 had us stressed, but it’s nothing.”
The production took a week to create, but required a lot of discipline to perfect.
“I don’t think a lot of people know how much time, energy and money that we actually put into doing these,” Williams told CNN. “But we just enjoy doing them to make other people happy.”
Monday marked the first day of virtual learning, and the high school teachers said they already feel more bonded to their students. As soon as students logged on, they were excited to know more about the rap video, which served as an ideal icebreaker, Williams said.
“They were able to meet and see who we were as teachers,” Williams said. “So, coming in for the first day of school they’re already excited. Their energy was matching our energy, and it’s only the second day.”
“It’s a great feeling because now I know I’ve already connected with my student on another level,” Evans added.
The Dougherty County School System plans to monitor coronavirus case numbers each day. When there is a rolling average number of days with low cases, the system will pivot to parents having a choice between face-to-face or virtual learning, school officials told CNN.
Williams and Evans said virtual learning is turning out better than they expected.
“I was nervous about it, but I am actually really enjoying it,” Evans said. “It kind of gives the students a sense of independence to make sure that they’re actually getting their work done.”
As of Wednesday, a clip of the teachers’ back-to-school rap had amassed 180,000 views on Instagram.