The pandemic has pushed classes online for students and teachers all over the country. But the problem with Zoom is that you can opt out of showing your face when you're present in a meeting. That's not always a bad thing, but when you're a teacher trying to get information across to a big group of people, it can be hard to tell if anyone is actually paying attention.
Students have started to realize that their teachers are feeling pretty lonely talking into a void of little black boxes every day. So they've started posting TikToks of themselves turning their cameras on to keep their teachers company and show them they appreciate all their effort.
Madison Moran was one of the first to post. The sophomore at Michigan State University switched her camera on, and you can see her professor light up when she pops up on screen.
You can see that it makes such a difference for the professor to actually be talking to a person. Madison told Insider, "At least if she sees one face, she can communicate with someone and not feel like she's just talking to a blank screen."
Madison's video has over three million views, and she seems to have started a trend. Teachers have one of the hardest jobs in the world, and they've been hit hard during the pandemic. Transitioning to teaching online is no easy task. The least students can do is show their teachers that they're actually there during class.
In the above video from a student named Ariana, her teacher practically begs his students to turn their cameras on and show themselves. "I don't have enough face-to-face interaction," he says. Ariana's video has over four million views.
Rachel Greathouse, an adjunct art professor, told Insider, "I think it's just that the human element is missing. With teaching, you're kind of putting on a little bit of a performance. You have to be interesting to keep people engaged, and it is hard when every camera is off ... do you kind of feel like you're talking to a wall."
Greathouse said that when students do turn on their cameras, it makes a huge difference. But she also acknowledges that they might have a good reason to keep their cameras off, so she doesn't judge them if they do. It's just nice to see a face once in a while!
It's gotten to the point where teachers on TikTok are reposting these videos and adding their own commentary. "Your teachers care about you!!!" one person wrote in her caption. On screen, it says, "I have been teaching for two months and I have yet to see some of my students faces." That's a totally surreal experience.
"Virtual teaching is hard!!" another teacher writes. "Feeling connected to our students means the world to us!!!" There's no doubt the pandemic has been hard on everyone, and you never know someone's situation.
But if you're a student and you have the capacity to show your face in class and let your teacher know you're there and listening, that's huge! They'd definitely appreciate it.