It’s lunch time and you’re sitting in the lounge observing a casual discussion among a few veteran teachers. As it does every so often, the conversation comes up about how much kids have changed since they started teaching and how students “aren’t like they used to be.” Most of the time these chats are met with some obligatory agreeing and perhaps a little laughter with a shade of disbelief.
What I anxiously await is for someone to say:
“Agreed, and what have you done to change with them?”
To be fair, the veteran teachers are totally right; students have changed over the years. They are our digital natives. They don’t know a world where the iPhone doesn’t exist and where questions can be answered by Google, Alexa, or Siri. They live the instant gratification lifestyle, thanks partly to Amazon Now, and have a much greater sense of “what’s out there” thanks to YouTube. Using social media, they write for an authentic audience every single day because they want to. They’ve been brought up in a culture where you stand up for what you believe in and, as a consumer, where the customer is always right (thanks to Starbucks’ make every moment right mantra). Compared to trends that used to last for years when we grew up, Twitter has allowed things to trend one day and then be forgotten the next.
So, what does that mean in the classroom?
I love the way Adam Welcome said it: “Teach for 25 years, don’t teach the same year 25 times. Every single day, every single year, needs to be different, needs to be innovative. Because you can’t teach WiFi kids with landline strategies.”
We live in a constantly evolving society and those changes are immediately evident due to how connected we are with each other. While it’s incredibly exciting, it’s also a tremendous responsibility to ensure we are teaching our students to be lifelong learners and problem solvers.
We must be purposeful and authentic. We must stay current. We must push ourselves to teach today’s kids with tomorrow’s strategies and not accept anything less of ourselves.
Students have definitely changed. Have you?