Teachers Math & TikTok

Kaya Yurieff:

Sixth graders at Polly Ryon Middle School in Richmond, Tex., clamored to get into a certain math class at the beginning of the last school year. That’s not because they’d heard rumors that the class was easy or that they’d get to watch a lot of movies between lessons. The reason: The class was taught by Deidre Kelly, a teacher with 1.5 million TikTok followers.

“Usually the kids before they even come to this school know who I am. They’re excited to see me,” Kelly, 34, said. “They’ll say they’re starstruck. I’m like, ‘I am just a teacher. I am so normal.’”

Kelly’s TikTok account is full of math-focused videos with tips and tricks for adding fractions, subtracting integers and multiplying by 8. She often stands in front of her classroom’s whiteboard, usually with a trending (but appropriate) TikTok song playing in the background. Sprinkled between educational videos are sponsored clips that Kelly films for advertisers such as Mastercard’s Girls4Tech STEM education program and fast-food chain Sonic’s donation campaign for local school projects.