Adventures in Language

Teaching Languages Today | Meet MRS. Rogers!

September 09, 2022 Mango Languages
Teaching Languages Today | Meet MRS. Rogers!
Adventures in Language
More Info
Adventures in Language
Teaching Languages Today | Meet MRS. Rogers!
Sep 09, 2022
Mango Languages

You may have heard of Mr. Rogers – but do you know MRS. Rogers?! In this episode, you’ll get to meet Mrs. Rebecca Rogers, a high-energy high school teacher and social media content creator. Listen in as our host Emily Sabo (linguist, PhD) sits down with Rebecca to talk about (1) the pros and cons of being active on social media as a teacher, (2) how to find your teaching persona when just starting out in your career, and (3) tips for deciding which technology works for your classroom. Since Rebecca’s social media content centers around observational comedy relatable to teachers and students, it’s no surprise this episode is full of laughs.

If you enjoyed the episode, subscribe to the show and leave us a comment or review!

#teaching #k12teaching #socialmedia #highschoolteachers #teachersofinstagram #teachersoftiktok #mangolanguages #languagelearning #rrogersworld

Show Notes Transcript

You may have heard of Mr. Rogers – but do you know MRS. Rogers?! In this episode, you’ll get to meet Mrs. Rebecca Rogers, a high-energy high school teacher and social media content creator. Listen in as our host Emily Sabo (linguist, PhD) sits down with Rebecca to talk about (1) the pros and cons of being active on social media as a teacher, (2) how to find your teaching persona when just starting out in your career, and (3) tips for deciding which technology works for your classroom. Since Rebecca’s social media content centers around observational comedy relatable to teachers and students, it’s no surprise this episode is full of laughs.

If you enjoyed the episode, subscribe to the show and leave us a comment or review!

#teaching #k12teaching #socialmedia #highschoolteachers #teachersofinstagram #teachersoftiktok #mangolanguages #languagelearning #rrogersworld

Emily Sabo, PhD [00:00:00] You are listening to a Mango Languages podcast. Language teaching is hard, but there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic. That's why we created this show, Teaching Languages Today, a podcast for world language educators about what's working and what's not. Listen in for the problems fellow teachers are facing. Learn what solutions they found. And get some much needed self-care reminders of why you fell in love with teaching in the first place. Hi, I'm Emily, your host for the show. And each episode I'll be taking you on a journey into seeing world language ed through a new lens by sitting down with an all star lineup of teachers, administrators, parents and students. It's my hope that the stories you hear in the show will get you thinking and feeling different about what you do in the classroom. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:00:57] Well, hello, friends, and welcome back to the show. Today, I got to sit down with a high school teacher slash social media star Rebecca Rogers. Or as her students and the world of social media knows her. Mrs. Rogers. This conversation with Rebecca was really interesting because we got into a lot of topics. We talked about the pros and cons of being active on social media as a teacher, how to find your teaching persona when just starting out in your career, how to decide which technology is going to work for your classroom, and how to sprinkle in compassion and life skills into an already packed lesson plan. And a little bit of backstory on Rebecca. So when it comes to Rebecca's social media, most of her content centers around comedy and skits and things that real teachers see on a daily basis. And here's what I love the most about her. She humanizes the profession. You know, if you're like most people, when you were a kid, you thought teachers lived at school, didn't realize they had a life outside of school. So much so that when you saw them out at the park or the grocery store, you were like, Why aren't you at school? Are you allowed to be out here? And despite all of Rebecca's fame, her 3 million followers, her mission hasn't changed. Her goal has been and continues to be to humanize teachers and the profession of teaching, because at the end of the day, are teachers, superheroes. Yes, but you're also just people. So long story short, Rebecca is awesome and we are so lucky to have her join us on the show. Without further ado, here was my conversation with Rebecca Rogers. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:02:34] Hi, Rebecca. Welcome to the show. Thank you for being here. 


Rebecca Rogers [00:02:37] Thank you for having me. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:02:39] You're great. But you put up like. 


Rebecca Rogers [00:02:40] The same person we are. And I cannot. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:02:43] Wait to meet you, I should say, just for, like, the podcast listeners, to know that we have never met in real life. 


Rebecca Rogers [00:02:50] No, but we will. We 100% will. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:02:53] Okay, let's get into it. So, Rebecca, you're not only a teacher, but also, if I may, a social media sensation. So you make comedy content for a wide audience of teachers and students around the world. Tell us we want to know how and when and why did you start creating content on social media 


Rebecca Rogers [00:03:15] Fall 2020, It was I was completely virtual. Schools were shut down and my kids were so sad. I had no kids turning cameras on or anything like that. They didn't really want to have side conversations. You know, high school kids usually love to derail class. And it was it wasn't even happening. I've never had issues bonding with kids before, connecting with kids. But this whole situation was just a different monster altogether. And I was desperate to find some way to bond with them. And just like they sounded so sad. And I wanted them to not be as sad. I mean, obviously I couldn't change the lockdown. They couldn't get rid of COVID, but I wanted to find something to just brighten their days a little bit. And I tried a lot of different things, a couple of different things. I tried games, I tried talking to them more and nothing was working. And I finally just asked, you know, when you do have side conversation, do you want to talk about tick tock? Is that something like should I download that? Should I start posting on that? What do you guys think? And they were so excited. They had I've never seen this group of kids so excited before they chose my username R Rogers World and then they just started giving me little mini appropriate trends to do. And one day some kid said something really funny in class. It was just silly and she was just confused. And they asked, Miss Rogers, will you tell this story on your TikTok? And obviously she's I asked out like, would you be okay with that? Like, I don't want to make you uncomfortable. She's like, no, like you should do it. It's really funny. Like, I was just mistaken. It's a funny mistake. And I just told it and it went viral. And then all of a sudden the kids. Okay, well, I said this last week, you should tell that story. And then I started getting students from previous semesters and previous years, and then I just started getting teachers from all over the world, sending me stories. I had teachers from New York, from California, from England, from Vietnam, all sending me stories that they wanted me to turn into skits. And that was really cool. It was really cool. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:05:18] That is really cool. So you found a way to use social media to connect with your students and to the wider world, but there's more to it than that. There are other things to consider when being active on social media as a teacher, so I want to get into that. There are a lot of teachers out there who see social media as like a lot of noise. There are other teachers who are curious about it but haven't dabbled yet. What do you see as the pros and cons of teachers using? Using because using teachers. Using social media professionally. 


Rebecca Rogers [00:05:55] There's always going to be social media platforms trending in some ways that are popular and they will fade in and they will fade out. And I feel like as teachers, if you want to continue to find ways to connect to your kids, you have to kind of be up to date on that. What are they using? What's going on now? It doesn't even have to be that serious. Like, it's not like you have to sit there and research it every week, but just to kind of know what's going on in their lives, what's important to them. I mean, how are you supposed to really connect and bond with them if you don't know anything about what they're interested in? You know? And so I don't even think that teachers have like you don't have to post anything but just kind of be aware. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:06:33] And what would you say to teachers who might want to actually post and get involved doing something like what you do, which is like sharing out content related to teaching, but they might have worries about downstream impacts of admin getting concerned. How would you talk to them about your experience of just like being authentic in social media? 


Rebecca Rogers [00:06:53] I think at the end of the day, you know, everyone has their own boundaries, you know, different school districts and school systems, admin and things like that. Everyone's going to have their own boundaries. And also remember that no matter what, it doesn't matter who you are, there's going to be people that hate everything that you put out. It is what it is, whether they are some kind of administrator or parent. And I think it just depends on, you know, what you want, what your goals are. There are plenty of parents who love what I do and think it's so awesome and so great. There are some parents that think I'm a monster and I've decided that's okay. And again, it just depends on what your your personal boundaries are what you're wanting in what you're comfortable with. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:07:38] You've said you've gotten criticism. What have been some of the critiques that you've gotten? 


Rebecca Rogers [00:07:43] I started my platform just, you know, making my kids laugh. They gave me stories, asked me to do stories that happened to them. I had one lady tell me that I was emotionally traumatizing them by making stories about them. And I'm like, This kid literally begged me for three weeks to use two stories like, you don't know, you know, you don't know what you're talking about. The end of the day, the whole goal was to make my kids laugh. And it's just gone from making a hundred kids laugh to making 3 million kids laugh. And I don't care if they're ten, 15 or 40 years old. They're my kids. Yeah. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:08:22] Well, speaking of age, how old were you when you first stepped into the classroom? 


Rebecca Rogers [00:08:26] I was 22. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:08:28] So quite young.


Rebecca Rogers [00:08:29]  Yeah. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:08:32] A lot of new teachers struggle to find their voice and their teaching persona. What is one piece of advice that you could give teachers starting out to help them find their voice? 


Rebecca Rogers [00:08:41] First things first. The biggest lesson I learned when I first started teaching is that your department chair and other veteran teachers are probably great teachers, but that doesn't mean that what they do is going to work with your personality and your style of teaching. You know, I personally like to teach through games and simulations. That doesn't mean everyone is going to enjoy them. That doesn't mean all teachers are going to enjoy that. It doesn't mean all teachers are going to execute it the same way. Find your style, what works for you. And that could take a year. It could take three years. It's not a race. It's a marathon. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:09:17] So true. Finding your unique teaching style is not a race. It's a marathon. Okay, well, technically marathons are races, but you get the point. Just don't forget that when it comes to teaching, you're playing the long game. Okay, now back to the conversation. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:09:33] Let's talk tech. Tech assisted teaching can improve student learning. But of course, every new software, Every new product entails a learning curve. And some kind of transition for the teacher and for the students. So as a teacher, how do you decide when and how to use technology in the classroom? 


Rebecca Rogers [00:09:51] I think there's a fine line between, hey, this is helpful and hey, this is just flashy. I think, you know, when online learning started, all the schools were like, Oh, hey, here's all the options that you can make your slideshows super interactive and do this and do that. And it was cool and all. But in all honesty, it was going to take me way too long to learn how to use everything and figure out how to incorporate it. Then just finding one or two things that worked for me still made it interactive, and I could call it a day. I think finding something that will enhance their learning is so much more important than just finding something that is flashy to say that you're using technology. So for example, I really like using YouTube 360 It's really cool letting the kids really see where we're learning about and be able to visualize it. And it's a way that I could incorporate technology is something really cool. It's one thing that I learned how to use. I could teach my students how to use any enhances learning. I don't need all the bells and whistles in the PowerPoint. That was one way that I can incorporate technology advanced lessons a little bit and really help the kids. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:11:03] Okay. Side note, if you haven't checked out YouTube 360, I highly recommend you do. It's free. Just search for it online. It's called YouTube 360, 3-6-0. And here's how you can use it. So if you're teaching, say, a cultural lesson about Mexico in your Spanish class, there is a panoramic exploration of the capital, Mexico City, that is, get this, an interactive video tour of the city that allows students to swipe around the city in a 360 panorama as they fly over the city's main landmarks. I went down a real rabbit hole with this one, and I can say with a high degree of confidence, I don't care what language you teach, I bet there's some content on there for you to share with your students. So if you're teaching Japanese, for example, there is a YouTube 360 video that takes you on a tour to Tokyo Tower through Nara Park and up and down the turns and twists of the famous Angel Road. It is a super cool tool, and if you're looking for some other cool classroom technology, may I suggest checking out Mango Languages, Language Learning Platform, which offers over 70 language courses that are full of engaging self-guided learning opportunities and a personalized review system, among many other cool features. The best part it's a really easy technology to integrate and incorporate into your classroom. And as Rebecca already pointed out, and we're going to talk about it a little bit more, having that ease of integration with technology is so important for effective teaching and effective learning. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:12:34] Did you did you ever feel that technology overwhelm during that time when all those resources were being thrown. At you? 


Rebecca Rogers [00:12:42] Yes, because it was just so much, you know. And I know the schools were really scrambling to try and help us and make us feel like we had all these options. But at the end of the day, there was just so much I didn't even know where to start. I know that the districts are really just trying to make teachers feel like they had options, but it was so overwhelming to me and I ended up not using most of what they sent out because it just I couldn't do it, you know? And I did kind of take my own route when it came to technology and online learning. You know, I made animated content videos for my kids and they took hours, hours I know that, not a not every teacher was going to be able to do that. Not every teacher knew how to use the video editing software. Not every teacher had the time. You know, if I had kids, there was no way that I would be able to dedicate 18 hours for one episode. No, absolutely no way. And so I just kind of did what worked for me and what worked for my kids. But that doesn't mean that anyone doing more or less was any better or worse as a teacher. It was just what was possible for us and the situations that we were living in. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:13:48] Exactly. Do what you can with what you know now. There's another part of Rebecca's teaching experience that I really wanted to ask her about. And this has to do with her switching schools because she taught at two different schools that were very, very different. And that switch allowed her to change the way she approached teaching. It changed her teaching philosophy. So here's what Rebecca said when I asked her about how her teaching philosophy has shifted over the years. 


Rebecca Rogers [00:14:14] Originally, when I started, I know that I wanted my goal to be helping kids put their like take control of their futures, helping kids to connect with the curriculum. I really wanted to make it relevant to them, important to them, and help them figure out how it could apply to their life. And that was really important to me. I started at a very, very affluent school. So now in all reality, when it came to mixed classes of like honors versus academic, I might have had three kids that were not honors kids. It was a very, very high achieving school, like almost in a toxic kind of way and not even almost it wasn't a toxic way, 100% way. The expectations were crazy. You know, the kids were so competitive with each other that it kind of spilled into the teachers also. And that's kind of where that idea of, well, let's help the kids kind of try and take control of their futures, because that's all the kids were worried about anyways. Was Am I going to get into this Ivy or what college am I going to go to? And then when I went to my second school, it was like night and day. And the school itself was pretty night and day. You know, you had kids who went home to a house with a four car garage, and you also had kids who did not have a home to go to at the end of the school day. And that was really I mean, that really changed my perspective because like, yes, the kids that were ready and able to look forward to their future, like, yeah, absolutely. I wanted to help them feel in control and to make the content relative to their lives. But I also just wanted to create a safe space for my kids to know that you were safe here, you were loved here. If whatever you needed, like, tell me what you need and I'm going to do what I can to make it happen. Whatever you have going on at home, like I want to make you feel warm and safe. You know, it's all about like Maslow's hierarchy of needs. You know, if the kids basic needs are not being met, there's absolutely no way that learning about the Renaissance is going to have any. Like, they're not going to have any idea what I'm talking about because they're not going to be able to pay attention. They're not going to be able to retain that. I have a cat hair on my nose now, like I can't can't find it. It's somewhere on my face that I like sitting here. I'm like, Wow, I've been scratching my face for a while. I should probably explain why I cannot find it. My cats just shed like nobody's business. But it's okay. That's fine. They're just a part of me. Yeah. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:16:53] You can't hear it because I had myself muted, but I was cracking up this whole time. I got to say that cat here was a lot like French vowels all over the place, yet absolutely impossible to pin down. 


Rebecca Rogers [00:17:05] You know, being at a school where kids basic needs were not being met for a good for a good percentage of them. It just it really changed what I needed to focus on in. Sorry. It's really distracting. I cannot find. It's like, oh, I tried to ignore for a second, and I was like, no, no, that's not that's not going to happen. Oh, my. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:17:29] Gosh. This is the perfect. 


Rebecca Rogers [00:17:30] Example of what you're literally. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:17:31] Talking about right now. If you have a need you can't on anything else. 


Rebecca Rogers [00:17:34] It really is. It's this has to be in it. You cannot cut any of this. It is like just having a freaking cat hair on the side of my nose, itching the crap out of me. I can't focus on even what I'm talking about. Like those kids that don't have a roof over their head, don't have electricity, don't have food at home. You know, they cannot focus on school. And yeah, of course, there are some kids that are super fortunate and don't have those problems and I can focus on other things with them. But yes, some kids needed some support and other kids needed something completely different from me. And that's what being a teacher is. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:18:13] As a teacher we might go into the classroom thinking like we have one goal and we were like this one main hat. But the reality is you end up wearing so many hats you can almost get like cognitive dissonance or you're like, What is my actual like role here? What was I hired to do? What should I be doing? What do I want? So how did you manage all of these different hats in one job? 


Rebecca Rogers [00:18:33] Honestly, I just took it one step at a time. Like what do my kids overall need on this day? And sometimes that would be the lesson that I spent a long time planning and figuring out, and sometimes that would be a catch up day. We all look very stressed out and overwhelmed and overworked. You know what? We're going to put everything to the side. We're going to play catch up day. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:18:59] A lot of teachers get overwhelmed thinking like, how am I? How am I going to adjust to my individual learners when I'm only one person? So how did you approach that in the classroom? 


Rebecca Rogers [00:19:09] I honestly ask the kids like, What do you need for me? How can I best support you? And sometimes a kid was like, Oh, I'll just let you know if I have extra questions, like if I'm really struggling or Hey, can I actually like finish this at home and turn in the morning? Hey, can I just go get some water? Like take a walk to the water fountain and come back? Like, I honestly just ask them what do you need for me? Because I could think, Hey, this is something really helpful. This is going to get them through the day and it's actually detrimental to them. And so I learned that, you know, when I assume, oh, this is going to be helpful to them or that's going to be helpful to them, it's not that's not always the case. Just asking them straight up, what do you need from me is always is always the first step. It's not always an option. You do exactly what they want, but let's see what we can make work to help you. They're like, What do you need right now? Oh, I need to sleep the entire period. You can't sleep in class every day. What can we do instead? Or if they're like, I really need to eat something right now and I don't let food in my classroom. I've had too many kids put sticky wrappers in the textbooks. I've had to clean up half eaten fruit off the floor like it's gross. We don't do food in my classroom. I can't let you eat your lunch in my room right now. I know you're really hungry. I can give you a hall pass. You can take a walk and you can eat your granola bar in the hallway. You're right. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:20:33] It's not always the case that you ask the student and Then you're like, Yep, I will grant whatever it is that you're asking for. No homework for a year, right? It's smart to be like, This is what's possible, what about this? And then they like learn how to negotiate things out in the real world. 


Rebecca Rogers [00:20:48] Life skills. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:20:50] Life skills, indeed. You know, just as much as teachers help students learn core content, we're also there to guide them as they acquire these key life skills. Well, Rebecca, we are almost at the end of our show, if you can believe it. Do you have any final words of wisdom for our teacher listening? 


Rebecca Rogers [00:21:07] Your best is enough and it is okay to put it away and relax at home. And I know that's so much easier said than done, but I think you deserve it. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:21:17] Well, we've reached the end of the show. It was a pleasure to have you on the show, Rebecca. Thank you so much for joining us. 


Rebecca Rogers [00:21:24] Thank you for having me. How can our listeners find you? I am R Rogers World on TikTok and Instagram and I think it's just Rebecca Rogers on YouTube and Facebook and those are all the places to find me. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:21:36] Well, thank you so, so much. I hope you have an amazing rest of your day and. 


Rebecca Rogers [00:21:41] I hope you do as well. 


Emily Sabo, PhD [00:21:43] Thanks. Bye bye. Well, that was my conversation with high school teacher and social media content creator Rebecca Rogers. Speaking of social media, if you'd like more fun language teacher content like this, you can follow us at Mango Languages on your favorite social media platform or all of them. And if you're looking for easy to use classroom enrichment software, then check out the link in the description for Mango Languages Language Learning Platform. Like I said earlier, it's really awesome and I think you're going to fall in love with it. If you liked today's episode, let us know by giving us a like a follow or a review. I appreciate you. Well, that's all for this episode of Teaching Languages Today. Until next time, live large and language on why. This episode was hosted, produced and edited by me, Dr. Emily Sabo, our production manager is Dr. Erika Caturegli. And our audience was, Oh, wait, that's you. Thank you so much.