Innovation and Generation Z Part. 1

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the annual ISTE (International Society of Technology in Education ) Conference in Philadelphia. While attending a keynote speech by Michel Bonner, he spoke about the responsibility to connect with young people and each interaction bares the potential to change their lives for the better. During his speech, he displayed a slide that hit me like a ton of bricks.

This quote is so true. Technology and connectivity have evolved exponentially and reaching around the world, can now happen at lightning speed. The latest developments in democracy, civic and social unrest are more difficult to suppress and the stories of people affected by the changes in global climate can be heard with transparent clarity.

With the exponential growth of e-commerce, technology, and virtual environments, this generation not only interact with others in physical spaces but more so online as well. This growth has sparked a diverse generation of young people who are hungry to challenge, grow, connect and collaborate with each other. Generation Z is more connected than any other Generation in history. Thus, making them “digital natives”. Generation Z students tend to thrive when they are given the opportunity to have a fully immersive educational experience. As leaders, we need to develop a culture that focuses on doing whatever it takes to ensure that we are successful in serving all of our students.

The responsibility of educators is to ensure that today’s students are ready to live, learn, work, and thrive in this high-tech, global, highly participatory world. To that end, U.S. school systems are conspicuously out of sync with the culture of today’s society.

(U.S. Department of Education, 2009)

What should we consider when working with our Gen Z students?

When working with our students who are between the age of 7 and 22 years of age, they live for the flexibility to showcase their interests. I personally have found that giving students options in projects engages them more deeply, then telling them “how to” do something. Also, demonstrating that the solutions to our problems can be achieved with hard work and that effort is appreciated. Be encouraged to give students real world tasks where there is more than one outcome or lots of possible solutions. This helps encourage creativity and build flexibility in their thinking. Be brave and learn with your students. Is it not our chief responsibility to have all the answers…just be willing to ask better questions, seek the truth and share it with others!

To challenge our students & raise the stakes to meet the barriers that await them… we MUST revolutionize the way we approach Generation Z. 

Our young people are the ones who will solve the problems of the future and engage the present to challenge us to be better. In that, they lean heavily on being creative. It is on us to not only engage our future pioneers but to empower them to seek higher heights through “learning by doing.” John Spencer created an incredible video illustrating this point. Check it out here:

Technology alone won’t get us there. Educators who think differently will. 

This is a sample classroom I grew up in as a child in the city of Saint Louis. After 30 years, we still teach the same way…Follow along in this blog series as we unpack to uncover ways to avoid this image for the next 30 years.


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