When online learning goes viral

Dave Poirier

Up until this spring, Niagara high school teacher Dave Poirier had never used TikTok before. Then within a week, he had amassed millions of views, interviews with CTV, ABC and ESPN and now has 60,000 followers.

But that was never his intended audience. The only reason he started was because the impacts of the pandemic and specifically online learning had been weighing on him emotionally.

“I figured if I’m having a really rough time, my students must be having a really rough time,” he said.

So one May morning to try something new, his students watched as he rolled into frame while riding on one of his son’s toy scooters to hip-hop song Ridin’ Dirty. He recorded it on his phone and posted to TikTok, figuring that’s where his students could see it.

“From there, holy smokes it turned into something else,” he said.

Every day there was a new introduction and video to post, often getting more and more theatrical. Themes ranging from Mission Impossible to wrestling to Star Wars, utilizing fog machines, lights and even doing one live on CTV’s Your Morning.

But the attention was an unexpected response, not an aspiration. While the videos could go on or not, it’s the lesson Poirier himself learned from going above and beyond that will stay with him forever.

“The attitude that I’ve kind of adopted towards my teaching of make learning fun, I can’t drop that now,” he said. “Yes, it adds some extra work, it takes up a bit of my mind space, but now that I started doing it, I can’t do it any other way. It’s such a genuine expression of who I am and my kids see that.”

@TeachPoirier on TikTok, Instagram and Twitter.

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