Teacher’s “Street Cred” From Viral TikToks Helps Students Have Hard Discussions.

a two-photo collage of ms. po giving out advice to her students

Middle school is often a tumultuous time in a student’s life. Having an adult they can trust can mean the difference between a great year and a terrible one.

Seventh-grade Health Sciences Teacher Ms. Po is an adult that kids trust. Her frank, down-to-earth discussions about difficult topics like sexuality, drugs, and internet safety have created a safe space for students to open up to her.

Now that she uploads snippets of her lessons on TikTok, millions of people have benefitted from her advice.

Ms. Po believes that the key to getting kids to relate to her is never talking down to them. Instead, she treats them like rational, thinking humans who are going through the trials and tribulations associated with puberty.

“Sometimes they want to be talked to like more of a teenager or an adult,” she explained. “They don’t want to be spoken to like a kid. It makes them want to be in my class. It makes them want to participate. It makes them want to be with me. And in middle school, that can be really difficult.”

In addition to stressing the importance of self-care, Ms. Po urges students not to sweat the small stuff. Grades are temporary, and she believes the important thing is to work hard and not beat yourself up over any perceived failures.

“My students sometimes feel like… they’re in 7th grade, and they think, ‘Oh, if I failed my math test, I’m not gonna go to college,'” she said. “You have to work hard, that’s what you have to do in life. Whatever it is, it’s working hard, and you’ll be fine. But grades aren’t everything, and I feel like, if you’re an adult you know that.”

Each week, Ms. Po asks students to anonymously write down the best thing about their week, and the worst. She then reads these “roses and thorns” aloud and discusses how to cope with the bad things, always encouraging empathy towards one another —something that doesn’t always come naturally to middle schoolers.

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Ms. Po’s teaching videos have earned more than 28 million likes on TikTok, and she regularly goes viral because of the honest way she answers her students’ most pressing concerns. Even adults have benefitted from the life advice she doles out, and she says her viral fame has made her even more relatable to her students.

“So I liked it because it was giving me street cred in the middle school,” she said. “It was making my students want to be in my class, which is like half the battle.”

The world needs more people like Ms. Po! This teacher understands what a challenging time her students are going through. They’re lucky to have such a caring and honest teacher on their side!

Don’t forget to share Ms. Po’s amazing advice!

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