Rapping Teacher From Viral Video Aims To Empower Students | WABE 90.1 FM

Rapping Teacher From Viral Video Aims To Empower Students

Mar 16, 2017

At Edwards Middle School in Rockdale County, one teacher’s lessons have gone viral because of an uncommon method he uses to engage students.

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Eighth  grade social studies teacher David Yancey uses the tunes and beats to songs like “Bad and Boujee” by Migos and Adele’s “Hello” to cap off lessons about American history. 

“Bad and Boujee” becomes “Mad and Losing,” a song about the Civil War, while “Hello” becomes “Hello from the Cherokee,” which teaches students about the Indian Removal Act.

"I realized that there was something missing those extra assignments and tiered lessons were not hitting," Yancey said in an email, "I realize that students somewhat choose to be disconnected from the material."

Around two years ago, when Yancey received data from the county that his students were struggling with government in class, he took action. After consulting with a group of students he mentored on what songs were popular at the time, he set in motion a plan to replace lyrics of rap songs with lyrics reminiscent of the lessons he taught. The songs were a hit in classes, and since that first trial Yancey has written about twelve remixes, he said.

"I choose to keep creating them because I see this drives students to buy in. Once the students buy into the material, they are more apt to work with me when the material is not as engaging," Yancey said.

Yancey said that he is "floored" by the reception his videos have garnered recently, but added in that there are many teachers in his school and all over that are working just as hard to engage with their students. He posts the videos to his YouTube channel so the students have a reference after class.

Reflecting on his hopes as an educator, Yancey said that his favorite thing about teaching is that he can make a difference in his students' lives.

"I could destroy the self-confidence of a student or empower them to take on the world," he said. "I hope I can inspire them to do the latter."