More than meets the eye

Teacher Dylan Harris with Grade 5 students Max and Leila. 241090_07 Photo: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Shelby Brooks

A Pakenham Springs Primary School teacher has gone viral for being “handsome” but has a message about positivity and mental health he says is more important than looks.

Grade 5 teacher Dylan Harris’s TikTok videos went viral last week, with the Daily Mail dubbing him “Australia’s hottest teacher”, earning him a live interview with Channel 9’s Today Show.

But Mr Harris is quick to laugh off any suggestion of good looks, saying is just focussed on spreading joy.

“I just wanted to spread positivity on social media,” he said.

“The article is a very one sided way of portraying me.

“People told me I didn’t want to be TikTok famous, but I wasn’t going for fame. If I can make someone smile by me dancing or telling a joke then that can only be a good thing.”

Mr Harris, 28, started making TikTok videos just before last year’s Covid-19 lockdown as a way of spreading positive messages about the importance of mental health.

“It started as a way for me to share tips and tricks about motivation, about anxiety and depression,” he said.

“I wanted to share a different vibe to the issue. Sometimes it can be very dark when people do different talk about it but I wanted to bring a bit of joy.”

Mr Harris said he had seen family and friends affected by mental health.

The past Emerald Football Club coach said he had seen people die by suicide.

“That really cemented the view that there needs to be more positively out there,” he said.

After the success of his TikTok videos, Mr Harris began the business DELTAR Motivations as a way to help kids in schools by holding talks and focus groups.

He DELTAR stands for determination, empowerment, life, time, attitude and resilience, things he talks about a lot during his sessions.

“Maybe kids can change one aspect of their life, one they have control over,” he said.

Mr Harris said the whole experience had been a “rewarding whirlwind,” but he was focussed on his students, who he teaches two days a week.

“I love the moment when kids get it,” he said.

“That penny drop moment you can see and hear it when they say yes I get it.

“You know that’s going to be a lifelong learning moment they will be taking to the year after and after.”

And what do the kids think about their teacher being TikTok famous?

“I’m more than happy for the kids to follow me on TikTok,” Mr Harris said.

“It’s all positive messages. I love the conversations they have because of it.

“It’s a positive side of social media for them to see.”