Students Today: Who are they and how do we reach them in our classrooms?

Students today: What kind of learner are they?



According to NEA Today, the current generation of kids, born in the mid-1990s to early 2000s, are the generation referred to as Generation Z. These students are concerned about the environment, want to go to college but are nervous about the costs,  and they have never known a non-digital world. They are private individuals, entrepreneurial, and they multi-task. This group of learners will face problems we haven’t yet seen in jobs we have yet to see. Collaboration is critical. Soft skills are important. Engagement is paramount.

Knowing these traits are in our learners, we need to adjust our instruction to meet these needs. Teaching traditionally with “sit and get” type learning, desks or chairs in rows, will not work.  So you wonder what does teaching and the classroom look like?

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you prepare to teach:

  • Engaging activities: Whenever possible, use real-world problems or situations to solve or improve. Area and Perimeter in Math can be taught while designing and making beds for pets at the local animal shelter. Students will become engaged with this task while they learn to write letters or speak to the shelter asking for specific information about the animals housed. ELA speaking, reading, and writing standards are taught right along with the math.
  • Provide multiple ways to demonstrate mastery of a topic or skill: Students should be given opportunities to express their learning. Slide shows, written plays, commercials, blogs provide avenues students can channel their interests to show what they know.
  • Reflection: It is critical students are given specific and regular-scheduled times to reflect on their learning. This is one of the best ways to cement learning. Journal entries, entrance and exit tickets, conferences all provide ways to show learning which gives the student and the teacher chances to support or enrich the learning.

Student voice and choice empower learners to be in charge of and take greater ownership in their learning.  With this generation of tech-savvy, environment caring people, hands-on educational opportunities whenever you can provide them in the classroom will give generation Z experiences they will not only enjoy but will remember.


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