A high school musical theater and choir teacher in Iowa is opening up about the story behind his viral video series that has amassed nearly 62 million views and has online fans cheering alongside his own students.
In an eight-part TikTok video series, Myles Finn gradually unveiled what his class would be performing for their 2023 musical. He shared the first video post on Aug. 24.
The concept started off innocently enough, with Finn putting up 13 musical names on a whiteboard and taking down two of the names each day, striking them off the list of possible projects. It was an idea the teacher said he thought of after seeing similar announcement stunts on TikTok.
But Finn and his wife, Haley, co-director of the musicals, decided to have some fun and added a twist to the announcement. "I decided to throw a little bait and switch in there and have the musical that we were doing … actually not up on the board, [which] really threw them for a loop," Finn told "Good Morning America."
The finale culminated in a pre-recorded and interactive video message Finn presented to his class, a bit he said was inspired by the John Hammond character in the movie "Jurassic Park," who has a similar back and forth with himself in a pre-recorded video presented to park visitors.
- 1April 4, 2022
- 2September 8, 2020
Finn would later share it in a two-part TikTok post. "ARE YOU FOR REAL RIGHT NOW?!" text overlaid in the video read as a student's voice presumably echoed the same question. As the musical's title was revealed, the iconic first few bars of "The Addams Family" theme song started to play -- all part of Finn's master plan.
"I think it's such an iconic song that as soon as [that] first 'da da da da' plays, everybody knew exactly what was happening," he said.
Finn had to keep the new musical a secret for months before he could reveal it to his students.
"Kids always know that I have a general idea of what it's going to be and they're always trying to get it out of me," he said. "So the more that I built the anticipation, I think, the more it played into, 'Oh, I have to make this really intense' and so then it got even more intense as we got closer, and I'm like, 'Ooh I'm going to make this really fun.' "
Finn has been teaching at Indianola High School in Indianola, Iowa, for four years and said he strives to maintain a "close-knit relationship" with his students.
"I think when students feel comfortable, they learn. When students feel comfortable in a classroom, when students feel comfortable with their teachers, and they know that the teacher is having fun, like case in point, they will do anything," Finn said, referencing his extraordinary announcement and TikTok videos. "They will want to work. They will want to learn."
Finn said he's since received an "outpouring" of love and support since his TikToks went viral. His message to the newfound internet fandom is two-fold.
"The first thing that I want people to take away is that if you want to be a teacher and you have fun being a teacher, you can do anything with education," he said. "You can go as far as you want. You could go viral on TikTok if that's something that you want to do. But it has to be authentic, and it has to be something that you are truly passionate about."
He added that he encourages anyone who's hesitant about pursuing their passions to "share their soul."
"Show that authenticity off. Be that person that if you are passionate about something, show that to the world," Finn said. "If you are into painting, show that. If you are into golf, show that. If you are into building trucks, go crazy. Make sure that you are going full force into that thing that you are absolutely passionate about."