KINGWOOD, TX (KTRK) -- Before last month, Creekwood Middle School teacher Tricia Zinnecker had never used TikTok before. But when the school building closed due to COVID-19 concerns, she started looking for a creative way to connect with her sixth grade students.
"When COVID-19 came and we are all kind of stuck at home, we were forced to do everything on computers," said Zinnecker. "I was sending assignments to my students, sending them lessons and emails, but that personal piece was missing. I wasn't able to really connect to them or talk to them or laugh with them. We've spent the whole year building that community of laughter."
She had noticed over the past school year that all of her students were on TikTok, so she decided to give it a try.
"I don't want my kids' memories of their sixth grade year to be about all the negative stuff," said Zinnecker. "So I thought maybe I could have a positive spin and they can remember, wow, my teacher was a dork on TikTok."
From lip syncing to popular songs and dance duets with students, Zinnecker's hilarious TikTok videos have become a huge hit among her students.
"One little boy dueted one of my dances because I did an eighties dance showing that, you know, this is still cool, I can do this," said Zinnecker. "So he dueted it on his page where we were side by side."
Lately, she's been making several videos each day. Within just a few weeks, she's racked up over 15,000 likes.
"My kids have been reaching out to me. We've been laughing together," said Zinnecker. "They have been really sweet. They've been sending me messages, like, oh my goodness, no way, I saw you on TikTok!"
For Zinnecker and her students, the TikTok videos have helped create a personal connection that's been missing since they left the classroom.
"What we love is the students," said Zinnecker. "We love the interaction. We love the high fives, the hugs, the pats on the back. I recommend for all teachers just to go for it, to download TikTok, make an app, don't worry about being silly or goofy, and just make one. You won't regret it."