As Monroe Comprehensive High School in Albany, Ga., kicked off virtual learning this week, two teachers and cheer coaches hit the school hallways for back-to-school videos inspired by the track “What’s Poppin’” by rapper Jack Harlow. Turns out, the now-viral Instagram footage is just the morale boost people have been looking for amid classroom anxiety and uncertainty.
Backed by the high school’s cheerleading team — who wear masks as they break it down in the background — teachers Callie Evans and Audri Williams spit rhymes about COVID-19 and distance learning in their respective videos.
“You got options, but you better pass my class no floppin’ / Gon’ log in, every day, every morning, I’m watchin’ / Yeah we virtual, and you know what’s up, so we ‘bout to take it up a notch,” Evans raps in her video filmed by videographer Jamel Overstreet.
“COVID-19 had us stressed, but it’s nothing / We gon’ overcome that’s facts no bluffing / Wear your masks, wash your hands, keep a safe distance / ‘Cause I really thought that a pandemic said sum,” she adds.
Williams, wearing the green and yellow school colors, also referenced the pandemic in her own verse, rapping, “No COVID-19, ain’t worried ‘bout a thing.”
Performing for students is nothing new for the teachers, who have taken part in viral teacher rap parodies before. But there’s a new urgency to this year’s videos, which have racked up hundreds of thousands of views and a flood of “best teacher ever” comments.
“Our city has been through a great deal since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Williams, an AP U.S. history, current issues and sociology teacher in her fourth year, tells Yahoo Life. “We were considered a hotspot, especially the area where I teach, on the south side of Albany. Although we see a decline, the data tells us that we are not where we need to be to safely return to school right now for face-to-face instruction. Our district has begun its 20-21 school 100 percent virtual and it's new, it's uncertain.”
Evans, who teaches journalism and 12th-grade economics, tells Yahoo Life that the videos — which took about a week to create, from writing lyrics to filming — are intended to lift students up during this difficult time.
“A lot of our students may have lost their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to the virus,” she says. “Because of this, I know some of our students were discouraged about starting school. My video was made to be a breath of fresh air to inspire students to want to learn. I wanted to show that through adversity, you can still come out on top and be the best no matter the circumstance.”
“I wanted to motivate the students about the new way of learning, which is virtual,” adds Williams. “There was definitely fear of the unknown because virtual learning was something that the county was not used to, so I wanted to make light of the situation. I wanted to ease the nerves and anxiousness of the students and get them excited about the new year.”
Her favorite verse, she notes, is "Class is in session and we just progressing / Success is the topic and passing’s the message.”
“I want my students to know that although virtual class is in session — [they should] be present, prompt, prepared, productive and polite every period, every day,” she explains. “As teachers, we have to push our students to their fullest potential. There are kids who feel as if virtual learning isn’t for them, that they can’t learn that way. It’s my responsibility to show them that they can.”
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