This year has seen the most uncertain back-to-school season in recent memory, and teachers are working to guide their young students through the disorder. While reassuring kids can take many forms, two educators are going viral for using a TikTok hit to welcome students back to class. Remixing the hit song “Whats Poppin” with back-to-school lyrics, the teachers are now internet stars in their own right.
For the uninformed, “Whats Poppin” is a song by rapper Jack Harlow that went viral on TikTok this year. Most impressively, the song managed to jump from the social media app to the charts, peaking at No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 during the summer.
The song’s legions of fans included Audri Williams, a teacher at Monroe High School in Albany, Georgia.
“I’m on TikTok all the time, that’s probably the app I watch 24/7, all day, and you can really see what song is poppin’ by watching TikTok,” Williams told ET Online.
Williams and fellow teacher Callie Evans already had a tradition of producing end-of-year jams for their students to enjoy, said NBC News. However, with the difficulties posed by COVID-19 this year, the pair wanted to change things up with a “welcome back” video. Williams’ mind went immediately to “Whats Poppin.”
“[W]hen I’m listening to the beat I’m like, ‘Ooh yeah. Yeah, I’ve got to put a rap on this!'” Williams said. “So I brought in Mrs. Evans and the rest is history.”
Monroe High School teachers in Georgia started the 1st day of virtual school in the most 🔥 way ever pic.twitter.com/tY7PewrKtA— Mary Wilson (@TheeMaryWilson) August 18, 2020
Evans jumped at the opportunity to help motivate students during remote instruction.
“We wanted to get them excited about virtual learning,” she said. “We wanted to grab the students’ attention, meet them where they were and write about what was affecting them.”
Evans and Williams spent a week writing, recording, filming and editing the viral clip. For backup dancers, the teachers recruited Monroe High’s cheerleading squad to perform some impressive choreography.
“It was a tight schedule and a lot of work, but so rewarding for our students,” said Williams.
The effort turned out to be well worth it, as students went crazy over the viral clip.
“Students were so excited to meet us,” said Evans. “They wanted to know who we were, ask us questions. It’s amazing to just vibe and connect with my students through a screen.”
Reactions have been positive outside of the school as well with many users praising the teachers’ rap skills and dance moves.
“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Williams. “It’s kind of crazy and unbelievable to see how much love we’ve received, just to see how far the video has reached.”
That reach extends all the way to the song’s original artist, Jack Harlow himself. The rapper reportedly took to one of the teachers’ Instagram posts to comment: “Yeahhhh [M]iss Williams.”
“He actually did respond, it was really exciting,” Williams told ET. “To see all the celebrity support is just like, ‘Ahh!’ It’s crazy.”