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In the coming years, schools will begin hiring teachers who were born after the turn of the millennium. Often called Generation Z, these young adults will bring a whole new set of habits, expectations, and life experiences into the classroom. And that, in turn, will create a whole new set of challenges for school principals and other education administrators.
What should school leaders be prepared for? Here are a few areas where generational differences between teachers are likely to be an issue.
Perhaps the biggest difference between generations is their exposure to and comfort with new technology. While millennials are already known for their love of smartphones and social media, Generation Z is likely to be even more plugged-in. They won’t just like technology, they’ll be dependent on it—unable to function without it.
This dependency could create a situation where the youngest teachers could not effectively teach without high-tech classrooms, while the oldest teachers (Baby Boomers and Gen Xers) would be resistant to and uncomfortable with that same technology. Administrators will have to find a way to balance the generational differences so that all teachers can be effective without every teacher requiring a different level of technology.
Every generation develops its own slang and preferred norms, which are often in opposition to the way older generations operate. When Baby Boomers entered the workplace, many older workers found them to be too casual. Now it’s the Baby Boomers who are the elder generation and Generation Z that will be defying accepted norms.
While it remains to be seen exactly how Generation Z will communicate in the classroom or in any other workplace, it’s likely that a lifetime of social media use will influence how they speak to and relate with others. Not only are they likely to speak in abbreviations, as many millennials often do (LOL, OMG, BRB), but they’re likely to see emojis as perfectly acceptable—and professional—and may prefer short, concise bursts of communication (à la Twitter) over longer, in-depth conversations.
These differences in communication styles could pose a number of challenges. For one, they may make it difficult for older teachers to understand and/or tolerate younger teachers. For another, it may impact younger teachers’ ability to effectively use teaching materials developed for generations that grew up with more formal forms of communication. As such, educational leaders will have to manage these younger teachers in a way that minimizes the negatives of their communication style without limiting them to the point that they lose their enthusiasm for and/or ability to do the job, thus adversely impacting teacher retention rates.
For Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and older millennials, the past is typically lost in the past. But thanks to the ubiquity of camera phones and social media, the lives of Generation Z are fully documented—and easily accessible through a Google search.
Why is this a challenge for educational leaders? Because, as Generation Z enters the classroom, their past indiscretions are likely to follow. Any controversial social media post they’ve ever written or any scandalous picture they’ve ever taken could be used by students, parents, or others to attack their credibility as a teacher. To avoid potential problems, educational leaders will need to adjust hiring policies to better take into account the possibility of past indiscretions and to advise Generation Z teachers on how to maintain a positive public image.
Managing teachers effectively is one of the key responsibilities of educational leaders. If you’re looking to move into administration or advance your current school administration career, you will want to acquire strong education management skills. And one of the best ways to do that is by earning a Doctor of Education (EdD).
An EdD degree can help you gain an in-depth understanding of education leadership and put you in position to advance your career. Thanks to online education, you can even earn your doctoral degree while you continue to teach or work in school leadership. That’s because online EdD programs allow you to complete the majority of your coursework from home through a flexible learning platform designed for the needs of working adults.
As an education leadership degree, an EdD can help you learn how to manage different generations of teachers and handle many other challenges—from teacher training to teacher retention to education resource management and allocation. Simply put, an EdD program is perfect for anyone who wants to excel in educational leadership. And online learning can make earning your EdD degree more convenient than you ever thought possible.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Doctor of Education (EdD) degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.