When off the clock, teacher turns into ‘Mr. McTikTok’
Rock Academy’s Kevin McClintock has attracted 86,000 followers for his goofy TikTok dance and motivational videos
Kevin McClintock prides himself on being able to relate to his students at The Rock Academy, a private Christian school in San Diego. But one way he refused to connect with the middle-schoolers was on social media because he felt the online networks foster low self-esteem.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic closed all of the schools and the 28-year-old teacher had no way to reach his students outside their limited online lessons. So after six months of resisting his students’ requests, he finally joined them on TikTok, a social media app known for users’ 15-second dance and comedy videos.
Playing off his last name, he opened an account on March 18 as “Mr. McTikTok” and in the six weeks since he has become one of the app’s fastest-rising stars. As of Tuesday, he had 86,000 followers, a number that is growing at a rate of 4,000 to 5,000 a day. His combined videos have received more than 741,000 likes, including one April 1 comedy film on the frustrations of teaching in quarantine that has been viewed more than 1.3 million times.
McClintock said he’s been overwhelmed by the reception to his more than 100 videos, which are a mix of goofy dance moves, motivational workouts, teacher jokes, professions of his faith and messages of support for his locked-down students.
“It’s been surreal and shocking,” he said. “It’s also been really cool to see how a positive message is reaching thousands of people. I find it extremely encouraging and motivating, and I plan to keep doing it. For me, it’s about getting my message out and loving on people, which we especially need right now.”
McClintock grew up in Clairemont and attended school at Horizon Christian Fellowship, where he discovered an affinity for working with children while serving as a youth program counselor. Later, while studying for an education degree at San Diego State University, he decided to focus on teaching middle-school students because those are tough years for kids and he wanted to mentor and motivate them.
“I like teaching middle-school freshman. It’s such an awkward age,” said McClintock, who teaches Bible, English, history and speech to students in seventh through ninth grade. “They can deal with all the energy I have, and I can meet them where they are.”
Now in his third year at The Rock Academy, McClintock said he models his teaching style on one of his own ninth-grade teachers, Brian Blake, who is energetic, fun and relational but still pushes students hard to achieve.
“At school, I’m the guy who plays guitar in class. I sing, I jump on tables, I dance, I do weird accents,” McClintock said. “The environment I bring is one of fun in the classroom to get my kids engaged. I try to focus more on the well-being of the student rather than just the subject.”
That extroverted personality has made him a natural performer for TikTok. Every afternoon after finishing his lessons, McClintock sets up the tripod inside or in the alley behind his Pacific Beach cottage to film new videos, which he posts about twice a day.
Some videos are “duets,” where he’ll attempt to copy the choreography of one of his students or instead challenge them to re-create his own admittedly bad dance moves. One features him playing guitar. Some videos feature his fellow Rock Academy teachers showing off their own talents.
One video viewed nearly 50,000 times features his eighth-grade class photo, when he was a slightly chubby, freckle-faced kid with a mullet-like haircut. McClintock said he wanted his students to see that middle school is a transitional phase of life that they’ll all get through and improve upon.
“Some of these kids forget that their teachers were once middle-schoolers, too,” he said. “I’m older now and I have more muscles, but I’m still that eighth-grader and I want my kids to know I have a lot of empathy for them.”
To view McClintock’s videos, visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
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