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Understanding Generation Z for Teachers

Monday, June 17, 2019

Every child born from 1997 onwards is considered to be part of Generation Z or Gen Z. Born right after the Millennials, which are considered Generation Y, this Z generation is characterized by increased utilization of smart devices, weekly TV usage, and daily, lengthy visits on top social media websites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

Studies conducted at Vision Critical have shown that Gen Z students have several screens and platforms at their disposal, quickly adopt new technologies and are abandoning the conventional media. More than that, Gen Z prefers “cool products” instead of “cool experiences” and responds to edgy campaigns with more ease. Their primary target is co-creating culture.

As a teacher used with previous generations, Gen Z can have a long-lasting impact on yourself. You must become trendy, modern, and specialized in technology to keep up with their educational demands. Below, you can find the top five things about Gen Z and details on how to use them.

They Want Professional Development Quite Early
Having access to abundant information, students in Gen Z will require more from their professors and teachers; and this process of quick advancement is normal. In the end, there is a positive correlation between knowledge and demand. The increase in knowledge matches the increase in students’ demands, both academically and personally.

One of the best things you could do is become faster at offering feedback. Their thirst for success and progress will have a positive influence on their careers – and they know it, and they want it fast! However, you might want to ask them for increased focus and attention span when submitting papers or exams, since this is one quality that has decreased among Zs, studies show.

They Want Flexibility
One excellent way to engage with your Gen Z students is offering them as much flexibility as possible. Freedom is the oxygen of the mind and soul, writes Moshe Dayan. Let them build their personal brands and communicate openly. Provide them with all the necessary tools to do so. Be there when they have questions (and they’ll have too many!), be there when they need advice, and be a supportive human being, not only a teacher. Be real with them and avoid unnecessary walls between you and your classroom.

Here are some of the best ways in which you can improve your relationship with them:
  • Be an active listener. Don’t limit your qualities to demanding perfection. Begin without assumptions when someone tries to talk to you. Appreciate them at their real value and see where they are standing.
  • Make sure your students know how important they are to you. Validate their assumptions and discussions and be proactive when replying. Also, don’t attack them but challenge their ideas if you need to.
  • Be an honest communicator and let them know what you want from them. “[This] is crucial since so many students feel a lack of communication with their teachers,” writes BestEssays.
  • Don’t play the bad cop! Stop judging them and look at the brighter picture. Explain what they could’ve done better in a non-accusatory manner. Let them shine!
  • Always explain the reasons behind your actions. Gen Z will ask why more times than you can imagine. Be patient and tell them the motives instead of criticizing them for asking. “Gen Zs’ are curious, outstanding, and very smart,” explains Dr. Kevin Frenji, HR software developer at Video Education.

They Want Rewards
If you’ve studied Psychology, you must know that there is a difference between punishment and positive reinforcement. Instead of penalizing your students for taking ill-conceived decisions, reinforce their mature behavior whenever you can. According to Family Education, students will feel noticed, validated, and approved of once their good behavior is reinforced. Thus, their misbehavior will decrease, and your job will become easier.

Provide them with opportunities to face challenges and then, celebrate their achievements! Tell them what they want to hear instead of what they don’t. Use positive affirmations instead of negative ones. For instance, instead of saying “Thanks for not disturbing my class while teaching,” say, “Thanks for raising your hand to ask me your questions politely.”

They Want Digital Content
A recent study conducted by RushMyEssay has shown that Gen Z’s most important demand is digital content. So, even if you’re a big fan of the pre-digital era, it’s time to learn some new tricks and facilitate your students’ work! Using classroom technology is, for them, just another regular way to assimilate new information.

There are many ways to engage digitally with your students. Here you can find some quick examples:
  • Create a class webpage and have them submit their work openly
  • Use an online method of grading
  • Exchange e-mails or Facebook accounts to communicate faster
  • Have them listen to various podcasts and learn from them
  • Allow them to use laptops and tablets in class (but don’t forget to impose clear rules on when and how to use them!)
  • Share your students’ work with their peers online. They will be determined to work harder and better if their assignments are exposed to a wider audience.
They Need Creative Empowerment 
Make your classroom a room for reflection. Take time to discuss with them openly and ask them what they feel when talking about their emotions. Integrate hands-on approaches and active learning techniques in the classroom. “Introduce unconventional learning materials, such as Ted Talks or graphic designs,” adds Michael Johnson, former teacher and director at BestDissertation.

Wrapping Up
Gen Z generations are diverse, so don’t put every single student in the same category. Different individuals perceive the world differently, so if one of your students won’t conform to the class rules, help them out instead of punishing them for acting distinctively. Offer your students what they need, but don’t become a student-pleaser! Nobody likes one. Good luck!

Tom Jager is a professional blogger based in London, working at HR Software.   He covers topics related to digital marketing, blogging, social media and business in general. He is always seeking to discover new ways for professional and personal growth. 


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