Four ways school districts can create millennial-friendly environments.

Teacher works with young students.It’s estimated that half of the nation’s teachers will retire from their teaching jobs within the next 10 years, and approximately 2 million teachers are needed to fill the gap. The good news is that there are new teachers entering the workforce, most of whom are from the millennial generation.

The PEW Research Center defines millennials as those born between 1981 and 1997. With approximately 75.4 million millennials in the U.S., they have surpassed the baby boomers as America’s largest generation and now make up the majority of the workforce.*

While the outlook for teacher growth is promising, there is uneasiness among school district leadership about how to effectively lead and manage new millennial teachers. According to Gallup, only 6% of superintendents think their district understands the needs of millennials.

In a recent study, Gallup found that millennials are more interested in work that fulfills a purpose rather than one that provides a paycheck, and they seek a job with more developmental opportunities than perks. Instead of a boss, they want someone to coach and partner with them to achieve their goals. They’re looking for continuous communication and feedback in place of annual reviews, and a workplace that builds on their strengths.

Making Schools Millennial-Friendly Work Environments

Once school districts and leadership understand the millennial mind-set, it will be easier for them to adapt their teacher-hiring practices and guide millennials through the teaching experience. Here are four ways to prepare to lead the new teacher workforce:

  • Make smart teacher selections. Millennials are the most educated generation to date. While bachelor’s degrees are required to teach in U.S. schools, research shows that Students whose teachers held a master’s degree performed statistically significantly better in both reading and language arts than students whose teachers did not hold a master’s degree.§ Moreover, teachers with a master’s degree in education who specialized in the subject area they go on to teach have an even greater impact on student learning. Supporting teachers to advance their own education is an important investment, and an investment in our teachers is an investment in our students and their future.
  • Be more hands-on. Millennials have different expectations than teachers from other generations. Because millennials are the first generation to be immersed in technology, they are used to having information made available to them as quickly as their Internet connection allows. Traditionally mentors help guide new teachers through their teaching experience, but millennials are also in need of a how-to guide that outlines what to expect and other resources they can reference along their journey.
  • Build relationships. When a Millennial is interested in becoming a teacher, it’s for more than a paycheck—they’re going to be in it for the long haul. This means veteran teachers and administrators need to be willing to connect with the new generation of educators. School leadership should continuously check in with millennial teachers to further develop a strong partnership. Collaboration in the workplace is key to success among varying generations of employees, especially in schools.
  • Create opportunities. Millennials are also known to be DIYers. Often impassioned to make a difference in the schools where they work, they need the opportunity to develop themselves and their ideas, whether it’s to present ways to further integrate technology into the classroom or to become better prepared to address key challenges such as parent involvement and student achievement. Above all, millennials need to know their contributions to the school are valued.

School districts are well positioned to employ effective teachers as long as they’re prepared to lead the new group of millennial hires. Hiring teachers with an advanced degree, such as an MS in Education, is the first step. The next step is to create a millennial-friendly working environment that will encourage new teachers to positively impact their students and the community.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Education program with a variety of specializations. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

*Pew Research Center, Millennials Overtake Baby Boomers as America’s Largest Generation, on the Internet at www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/25/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers.

†Gallup, Managing Millennial Teachers: Major Challenge for Schools, on the Internet at www.gallup.com/businessjournal/195425/managing-millennial-teachers-major-challenge-schools.aspx.

‡Pew Research Center, Millennials On Track to Be the Most Educated Generation to Date, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/03/19/how-millennials-compare-with-their-grandparents/ft_millennials-education_031715.

§Walden University, Research Brief: Master’s Degrees and Teacher Effectiveness: New Evidence from State Assessments, on the internet at https://www.waldenu.edu/-/media/Walden/general-media/about-walden/colleges-and-schools/riley-college-of-education/educational-research/outcomes-research-broch-faqs-web-final.pdf?la=en

Walden offers both state-approved educator licensure programs as well as programs and courses that do not lead to licensure or endorsements. Prospective students must review their state licensure requirements prior to enrolling. For more information, please refer to www.WaldenU.edu/educlicensure.

Prospective Alabama students: Contact the Teacher Education and Certification Division of the Alabama State Department of Education at 1-334-242-9935 or www.alsde.edu to verify that these programs qualify for teacher certification, endorsement, and/or salary benefits.

Note to all Washington residents: This program is not intended to lead to teacher certification. Teachers are advised to contact their individual school districts as to whether this program may qualify for salary advancement.

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