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Tyler Jackowski, a graduate of the English and Secondary Education programs at Emmanuel College, isn't your average literature teacher.

He’s also a TikTok sensation – boasting just under 2 million followers on his account (fishin4clout) where he posts videos from the classroom – bringing positivity to his students and more visibility to the teaching profession.  

Currently a teacher at Boston Public Schools, Jackowski taught for four years at Mission Grammar School and did his student-teaching at Boston Latin School. He credits his Emmanuel Education degrees with setting him up for success so early on in his teaching career, especially because of how the program prepares graduates to work in the city and equips them with strategies to support students of many different backgrounds. 

“I’m a proud spokesperson of the Emmanuel College Education program. It sets you up to teach in the schools that need it most – I’ve looked at Education curricula at other schools and they don’t do that."

Tyler Jackowski '19 G '20

Now he’s beginning to share his own insights on teaching and use his platform on TikTok to advocate for students and what they need to be in the best environment to learn. Last week, Jackowski was welcomed back to the Emmanuel campus to speak at the English department’s First-Year Writing Prize celebrations. Like the first-year students honored at the event, Jackowski pointed to coursework at Emmanuel as a source of his confidence in what he’d learned. 

Many of Jackowski’s former educators were in attendance for the presentation, including Sister Karen Hokanson, SNDdeN, Dean of the School of Education.

“Tyler’s presentation speaks to the School of Education vision that graduates are passionate teachers whose authentic practice is rooted in the principles of social justice. By using TikTok, Tyler offers a dynamic and engaging platform for educators to connect with students in a way that resonates with their digital mindset for creativity, collaboration and active learning,” said Hokanson. 

“Classes like Sister Karen’s are where I learned the philosophies and practices that I bring into every single day of teaching. For me as an educator, it was those types of classes that gave me the confidence to act the right way in certain situations, do students justice and make them feel safe, comfortable and happy just like anyone does at Emmanuel,” Jackowski said.

His methods range from balancing social media stardom to teaching Shakespeare to high school seniors. Originally having started his TikTok account to create fishing related content in 2019, Jackowski observed a negative connotation in general towards education, and when videos from his classroom began to resonate with people, the page stuck.

What does he think is missing from the modern classroom? Fun. It doesn’t mean that there’s no learning going on in the class – Jackowski said it’s quite the opposite, his students get a lot of work done – but it means doing more as an educator to make sure lessons resonate with students.

It also depends hugely on providing students with respect and confidence, he said.

Jackowski spoke about the teaching philosophy of Richard Lavoie – learned in Sr. Karen’s class – which measures student confidence in figurative “poker chips.” Every interaction has an impact on a student’s confidence and can either give them or take away from their poker chip supply.

He described two examples of students: one wakes up in a warm bed, has breakfast made, gets a ride to school and builds up their poker chips from every positive interaction before they arrive. The other student is between living situations, has to wake up extra early to take public transit to school and has to re-wear the same set of clothes each day.

That student has a different experience: not only starting the school day down on the confidence they need to succeed, but they are still expected to complete their work the same as everyone else and carry on with their day. This is where the teacher comes into play, Jackowski said. 

“It’s stories like this that have molded the way I view the teacher student relationship. Students need someone who can add poker chips to their bank, and make that process a priority each day. It’s as simple as saying good morning, asking how they are and actually caring about their answer – it’s a high five or a fist bump that shows the teacher is actually happy that student showed up today,” said Jackowski.

It’s those crucial educators in his time as a student that inspired Jackowski to become a teacher. Whether it was the high school teacher that supported him through everything, or it was Associate Professor of English Matt Elliott tailoring English lessons to what his Emmanuel seniors had planned post-graduation, all of those positive interactions made an impact.

With only five years under his belt, Jackowski doesn’t claim to have all the answers. Instead, he emphasizes how those educators with years of experience can be the difference makers for teachers just starting out – using their wisdom and insight to show those new teachers how to put students first.

“That’s how it’s taught at Emmanuel College,” he said, and graduates leave “ready to create a classroom that’s driven by [its] students.”