Hidden talents

Teacher fills uncle-in-law’s old position, made viral math TikTok

Math+teacher+Caleb+Goff+teaches+limits+to+a+calculus+student.+Goff+took+over+the+position+of+an+AP+Calculus+teacher+for+his+uncle%2C+Keith+Christian.

Nick Perez

Math teacher Caleb Goff teaches limits to a calculus student. Goff took over the position of an AP Calculus teacher for his uncle, Keith Christian.

The bell rings starting first period, and the class settles down as Caleb Goff begins his precalculus lesson. Soon, it’s the end of second period, and Goff makes his way to the University of North Texas where he’s studying for his masters in math. After precalculus teacher Randy Brooks left four years ago, math teachers Keith Christian and his wife, Deneen Christian had trouble finding a teacher to take his place until they recruited Goff, their niece’s husband. 

“He’s very thorough,” Deneen said. “He’s always preparing and thinking ahead. As soon as he knew there was a possibility he might be teaching calculus, he was already studying the calculus lessons and working through the summer.” 

Keith retired last year after teaching calculus for 35 years, opening up an opportunity. Goff taught Algebra I in the middle school before becoming the new Precalculus and AP Calculus AB teacher, taking Keith’s old spot.

“We [Keith and Deneen] think it’s awesome that this opportunity has happened,” Deneen said. “It’s great to have someone who’s really a strong mathematician that was available here to teach calculus.”

When Goff married his wife, Colleen Goff, he joined a mathematics family.

“It’s kind of funny because I have educators in my family but nobody is close to high school math, but my wife’s family on the other side,” Goff said. “Her aunt and uncle are both high school math teachers, her dad is a high school math teacher on a Navy base in Japan [and] one of her older brothers graduated with his PhD in math and as a professor at Georgia Tech. It was easy for me marrying into that family. I was welcomed with open arms.”  

Two years ago, while Goff was teaching in the middle school, he created a Tik Tok and went viral. His account, @mrgoffthemathteacher has 30.4K followers and 336.3K likes. 

“I think it’s great because that’s a platform that a lot of the students are going to be watching,” Deneen said. “They’ll see it. It’s good because he’s technologically savvy. I’m glad that he does that.” 

His first video about functions with Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” melody went viral and has 1.9M views. 

“Every once in a while I would catch student’s references from Tik Tok, and I was like, ‘Oh, I just saw that one last night too,’” Goff said. “They’re like, ‘Oh, Mr.Goff you should make a Tik Tok.’ I figured if I was going to make something as their math teacher I was like I might as well make something math related.”

Goff went to Harding University where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. 

“I’ve loved teaching calculus so far,” Goff said. “It’s so much more fun to me than when I was teaching Algebra I at the middle school. When you know the math that’s out there how much fun you can have doing it, Algebra I is suddenly a lot less fun.”

Goff stopped posting for about a year but posted his first calculus related Tik Tok on August 25.  

“I think he is really nice,” student Hannah Hertweck said. “He’s very knowledgeable over precal and is willing to help you if you need extra help. He makes nice videos to help you with math, and he’s good at singing.”

Goff is getting published in NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) Journal, the Mathematics Teacher Learning and Teaching Pre K to 12 about his viral Tik Tok.

“The students love him,” Deenen said. “He’s a sensitive person towards people which sometimes some of us math people aren’t, but he is. He sees what people’s needs are. I think he’s a fantastic teacher and is going to get better.”