Generation Z or the “Igeneration” is the generation that follows “The Millennials”. Typically, a generation last 20 or so years. However, with the speed and advancement of technology these generations are getting smaller and smaller. The question is, how do we connect with Generation Z, students who are always connected, in and out of the classroom. The following three ways have worked for me. General Summary of Z Kids
- Born Between 1990s and 2010 ( there will be some overlap with Millenials)
- They have been raised on Tech
- Social Media has allowed them to connect to the rest of the World
- They are by nature more diverse and flexible than previous generations
- They also expect flexibility in their relationships including in the classroom
- Their lives have been shaped by the Internet, war, recession, and mass media.
- For the most part their parents are Gen X’rs
Z children have had some sort of electronic device in their hand since, for some, before they could walk. The Ipad, or smartphone was the instant pocket babysitter, or moment giver, or pacifier. Think about that, a smartphone as a pacifier, and one that was never really taken away. By the time you get to this point in the article a lot has happened technology wise (see image to the left). For Z children this is constantly happening. It’s not something that might happen, it is their way of life. Think about your cell phone for a moment. For most of you, the only time it is not within five feet of you, is when you are showering. This is no different for students.
I am not an expert in Child Development, nor do I have an advanced degree on how the brain works. I would however, consider myself an expert as one who knows how to connect with students. The following three ways have worked great for me.
Your District will and should have policies that may or may not allow you to participate in some of these tools. These are in no particular order.
1) Youtube. I use Youtube in a variety of ways, but the most effective ways were the “Daily Video”, as a substitute teacher, and an extra teaching tool. The Daily Video (link of example) is a short video that my team and I do at the end of the day every school day. We go over the main concepts and activities for the day in our individual classes. We inform students/parents of homework, due dates, school activities ect. The parents absolutely love this concept. Most of the time the video is posted and uploaded before the students get home from school. Which means, that parents already know what their students “did” that day, and what work they have for that night. Not every parent or student followed the videos or watched every day, but the point is to help as many as possible. The daily video allows teacher’s true personalities out and lets the students know that we are real people.
If students are having a difficult time with a concept, or I want to try and teach it another way, or keep the instructions for a long time, I post a video to Youtube. For example: Checking Grades, Understanding SRI scores ect. See Below for example.
2) A Website. I realize that not every student has access to a computer or the Internet. However, that does not mean you should not use the Internet as a tool. I use this website to post extra assignments for student’s that lose their assignments. I upload copies of the assignment or share the link on Google Docs. Students and Parents have access to all paper files at all times. They can print them off at their own convenience. Calendars can be posted and shared on the website as well. The Website as a tool deserves its own post later.
3) Facebook Fan page.
The Fanpage allows the separation of the typical Facebook “friend”. Once again, not every student has access to Facebook, but most of their parents do. Typically any post that goes to the website also gets posted or broadcast onto the Facebook Fanpage. This allows parents further access to the information coming home. The Fanpage is helpful because it reaches students/parents on places that they will be. Information could also be posted to Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr ect. Facebook is slowly falling out of favor with the Z generation because it is old news, but their parent, for the most part, are as active as ever.
The key to connection is access and trust. The three above tools allow you to give students access, without losing your personal or professional time. They also allow you to connect safely with students and their parents in and outside of the classroom.
I would love to hear your thoughts on these ideas. What tools and ideas do you have to use to connect with students?