Ainee Fatima is a 27-year-old English and media studies teacher. She said her use of memes to grade assignments saw an immediate reaction from her students who were motivated to do more and better work. They went viral this week, too.
Fatima told the Daily Dot that as a young teacher, it’s been validating to know that she is doing something right. “I needed a way to express my emotions to my students while grading,” she said. “I think memes and GIFs are so a part of texting culture now that we have a reaction and meme to everything. I thought why not use it for grading?”
Update: these were really well received by my kids. Students who normally wouldn't care actually asked if they could correct their tests for a better grade & had a good laugh esp bc they always show me memes.— aineef (@axfxq) October 18, 2018
Fatima was kind enough to share her formula for grading memes with other teachers. She said she printed them onto sticker paper and cut them out herself—even sharing the file with fellow educators.
I can no longer send this through DM, I hit some weird limit! Here's the link to it :) Enjoy fellow teachers! Here u go! https://t.co/Ad3ImXaQIV— aineef (@axfxq) October 18, 2018
Fatima was also ready for the online criticism that anyone who goes viral faces. She explained for those who may think classrooms are not an appropriate space for memes that she would not use this grading method with younger students. Her high school seniors, however, loved it. She also pointed out that since her class revolves around “social media, trends, news, politics, music, film,” the memes were an appropriate addition.
**just a lil info about my class, i teach a "media studies" english class, we literally study/analyze the media & write! Social media, trends, news, politics, music, film…the meme stickers were deff appropriate for my class.— aineef (@axfxq) October 18, 2018
Fatima also shared her positive meme stickers, used for high grades.
The reaction on Twitter was swift and full of encouragement this week. People loved the idea, particularly among an age group that can be difficult to connect with as an educator. Her method of “speaking their language” made sense to parents, students, and other teachers alike.
“We need more teachers like you who make education fun for kids,” one user wrote.
Nah but for real @axfxq, this is an amazing idea. We need more teachers like you who make education fun for kids.— X (@XLNB) October 18, 2018
this upcoming generation don’t know how lucky they are to have lit ass millennials as teachers lol https://t.co/qKdWQ7tqlP— james (@phan1om_) October 18, 2018
Create a classroom culture that resonates with students and excellence shows itself. https://t.co/U0qdlS5ndI— Laiza | “Lay-sa” (@lzixxaa) October 18, 2018
Other people threw out suggestions for other memes that would pair well with different types of assignments. Deadpool, Kevin Hart, and Shia LaBeouf were all on the shortlist.
Hahaha yes!!!! Adding it to my collection!— aineef (@axfxq) October 19, 2018
This one for when they just impress you and you think dayuuummm! pic.twitter.com/qnoorqmqxW— Emily Lowthian (@LowthianEmily) October 18, 2018
She said the reaction from her students, fellow teachers, and even strangers online has been amazing. She is constantly looking for new ways to get information across to her students and says she often learns from other teachers’ methods as well. She quickly found that she wasn’t the first to think of using memes and pop culture references to boost engagement from her students. Other teachers shared examples of their methods for keeping students interested. One even used Bitmoji stickers to grade work.
Love it!!! I’m a 12th grade counselor and this is the sign on my door lol. The kids love it and it’s a great way to connect with them. Also it’s probably more for my own entertainment than theirs hahaha. pic.twitter.com/9qiOfRCQTB— La Dominicana (@mami_rose) October 18, 2018
“It’s sometimes important for teachers to meet their students at their level,” Fatima said. “Including pop-culture and media in their curriculum will get your content and instruction across way farther than sticking to age-old content.
“It might seem silly but just having those few kids try a little harder made my day! I have striven to be the teacher I needed when I was in school.”