Teacher and influencer at the same time: teaching via Tiktok – your SZ

Niko Kappe sits in a classroom at the Rudolf Wissell Elementary School in Berlin-Mitte. In a chair made for children, that way he can better empathize with them. For two and a half years he has been a teacher at this school, which is located in an area called the social zone. In this empty classroom, his nearly one million followers seem far away. But they are not. “After class, sometimes I make Tiktok videos at school,” says the 37-year-old. Sometimes the students peek through the door.

Niko Kappe’s path cannot be described as a side entrance, but as a long entrance. “I studied primary education in a very traditional way,” he says. He began his studies at the age of 23, having previously trained as an educator. During his university years, he worked a lot: in an events agency, in the daily mirror, finally in the digital studio of the UFA. “I’ve already worked on video formats for the Federal Agency for Civic Education or the Robert Bosch Foundation,” she says.

This is how Kappe discovered his talent for conveying serious information through entertaining videos. He found Tiktok in late 2019. The pandemic started a few weeks later. He shoots short videos to explain the situation, taking down a video of a Tiktoker claiming that the coronavirus was predicted in a 1981 book. The video of him has nearly 500,000 views to date. More and more people are following him for his calm and grounded way of explaining parts of the world situation.

On Tiktok it’s “der Niko”, at school “Mr. Kappe”

Niko Kappe has two children. Studies, part-time jobs, education: it was difficult to reconcile that. “Especially because he only had temporary contracts in the media industry, some of which were only for three months,” he says. So, after his bachelor’s degree, for which he had taken more time, he strictly followed his master’s degree. He will then complete his part-time legal internship, starting at Rudolf Wissell Primary School in early 2020. “I consciously chose them and I am very happy here.”

Like most elementary school teachers, Kappe teaches: everything. But no teacher in his school is as well known as he is. “Especially in the beginning, it often happened that I would walk into a classroom and they would look at me in amazement. ‘Niko, what are you doing here?’ some students would blurt out. Actually, he is Mr. Kappe. This distinction is important The school is the teacher, a person of respect, if they recognize him on the street, then he is “el Niko”.

Niko Kappe is listed as a teacher on Tiktok, it’s on his profile. At school, however, he is only a tiktoker when he is alone. He shoots videos in the empty classroom. But he has already run workshops where children have learned to produce short, informative videos themselves. “It’s about capturing and processing important content. Not uploading it to Tiktok afterwards,” he explains. Like so many teachers, Kappe is struggling with the slow digitization in schools. For example, when iPads are distributed to schools but the appropriate software is not installed.

Berlin teacher conscientiously works with media his students know well

Because of this, he sometimes shows his Tiktok videos in class. “A lot of kids and young people are using this app today. So it’s also about teaching them something with the media they know well,” she says. For example, a video about healthy eating. She weighs a bottle of cola by the number of sugar cubes it contains. All this, as usual on Tiktok, with quick cuts and background music, and in less than a minute. She then distributes worksheets designed to introduce students more deeply to the topic. It just doesn’t work at all without the classic methods.

Tiktok is a controversial platform. She is from China. The handling of data protection and censorship is questionable to say the least. In reality, Kappe is too old for this platform: a large proportion of users are under the age of 20. He is aware of all this, she says. That’s why he was able to find a niche: a teacher you can believe in. Kappe discovers fake videos and explains the connections. He is currently busy with the war in Ukraine and, in particular, with fake news on this topic. Hundreds of thousands are watching.

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