Tim Elmore poses a crucial question at the end of chapter 4: "Are you willing to keep your principles, but trade in your pedagogy?" We've learned that our students need us to adapt but not adopt their trends.They need us to adjust to them but not appease them. If we listen and watch closely, they just might tell us what they need. What we are talking about here is communicating with Gen Z (both verbally and nonverbally) to figure out how we can better reach and engage them. Communication is always a buzzword that we toss around - in professional development events, in skills and standards, and in our own daily lives, we are all working on communicating more effectively with those around us. This week, let's work on our communication muscles with a simple exercise that just might open your eyes in surprising ways!
Do you have an established relationship with someone in Gen Z? Maybe you have a trusted student you have developed a mentorship with in your classroom or FFA chapter, a friend or family member, or even your own children! Maybe you could even pose this as a question to an entire virtual class. Try to identify a member (or members) of Generation Z that you feel comfortable talking to and sharing ideas with.
Reach out to that young person - Zoom, text message, email, snail mail, etc. As we did in our first Map Maker activity, we're identifying pioneers in our life, but this time we're looking to those we wouldn't normally turn to for guidance. After all, we are the adults! They look to us for answers, right? Step back for a moment and allow them to tell you more about their lives, what they like and dislike about school, their hopes and dreams, etc. Below I will list out some potential interview questions, but the point is more so to really communicate with this Gen Z-er, so let them lead the conversation if they're willing! Where you normally might spend more time talking to this young person, try to be a listener.
Once you have listened to what they have to say, write a short reflection on what you found out and post it either in the comments or as a document in the Chapter 4 folder (See Uploading and Categorizing Files.docx for assistance). The goal here is not simply to answer questions but to put a face to the generation we are talking about. And if you don't have any Gen Z-ers to interview, let me know! I know some good ones to connect you with.
Interviewing Gen Z:
1) Identify member(s) of this generation
2) Explain your own purpose for wanting to learn more about their generation, and ask them a few guiding questions if necessary
4) Reflect. What did you learn about this generation, in their own words?
Ideas for Guiding Questions:
- What issues or problems do you see within our culture today?
- How do you feel about your future?
- How do you view older generations?
- Do you feel supported by the adults in your life?
- Who do you view as a role model/hero?
- How can I make learning more engaging for you?
- What do you want me to know about your generation?
- Etc....What do you want to know about them?