Before dramatic lip sync battle videos among Texas police were a social media sensation, principals, teachers and students rocked, rapped and harmonized back-to-school messages through locally produced videos.
For the sake of school spirit, Texas principals and teachers donned shades, swayed to a beat and fine-tuned their acting skills with videos that usher a new school year. It’s a trend that is likely to continue. The Fort Worth school district is already circulating a dramatic video reminding teachers that an annual convocation will usher the new school year.
The first day of class in the Fort Worth district is Aug. 20, but math teacher Thomas Mayfield is already working on a message to welcome students back to school. He is producing a Spanish-English rap video that features teachers, administrators and students singing about a love of learning.
If lyrics about curriculum, math and reading sounds like homework, Mayfield promises he will get you dancing and singing to his tune.
Each Mayfield production takes about a month to prepare, Mayfield said, adding that he orders T-shirts, arranges music and lines up talent. He works on the videos as he aims to help more youngsters make academic gains at campuses that are trying to shed the description of “struggling schools.”
Mayfield, who taught at the Academy at Maude I. Logan, is moving to the Academy at Como Elementary this upcoming school year. He is also helping write districtwide math curriculum while working on a book about teaching youngsters from low-income communities. His book, is titled, “Rough Around the Diamond.”
Mayfield said when children respond to his music, he finds an opening to teach.
“It helps them become engaged in a daily lesson,” he said.
Belinda Vega, a teacher at the Leadership Academy at Maude I. Logan, has been practicing her part. She will be introducing the video in Spanish as the production begins.
“I’m excited and nervous at the same time,” Vega said, adding that Mayfield’s videos get a lot of traction on social media.
Vega said she has wondered how Mayfield can make his productions a reality.
“He is like a little Superman,” Vega said.
Mayfield said he makes the videos to build school community.
“When you do these videos, it brings everybody together,” he said, explaining that they will film the video on Aug. 11. Some educators are recording their parts in a studio in upcoming days.
“Before kids come back, it will be available for them to access on YouTube,” Mayfield said.
The new video will be called “School Everywhere 3.” It is the third installment of a series of back-to-school videos he has produced. Last year, he produced, “School Everywhere 2.” He also stressed the importance of higher learning in a video called, “College All Around Me.”
Aisha Moses-Mason, a fourth-grade writing teacher, said she was a background dancer in last year’s video. This year, she will be featured rapping.
Moses-Mason said the message for students is that school isn’t scary.
“It motivates them to get ready for school and puts a positive mindset,” Moses-Mason said.
La’Nitra Johnson, a second-grade teacher at West Handley Elementary, said she has background in song and dance. She too has been practicing her part and she’s even learning the intricate steps of popular kid-friendly moves, including the Floss dance. (See parents guide to this dance here).
Johnson said the video will help ease the start of school. She said she will let her students dance to it when they need to use up some energy.
“They can get up and dance,” she said, calling it a “brain break.”
Stay tuned here for an update about the release of School Everywhere 3.