Change is Here

As our graduates walk across the stage in a few weeks, it will not only mark the end of their high school career, it will also mark an end of the millennial generation in our schools. There are conflicting opinions about the actual age range, but most agree “millennials” are those born between 1980 and 2000, meaning the Class of 2018 is the last high school graduating class of this generation.

Millennials were our first digitally native student group. Having grown up with computers, internet access, and mobile devices, the personalities and learning styles of millennial students were vastly different compared with their GenX parents and Baby Boomer grandparents. But if we thought millennials brought new challenges and expectations to the classroom, we better get ready for the next generation of students who come to the classroom looking to create content rather than just consume it. A new generation of students who are future-focused, tech innate, and communicate with pictures, rather than text. A new generation of students whose learning styles and preferences are shaped by a growing prevalence of virtual environments and augmented realities. Maybe a bit more alarming for some is the realization that this next wave of students is already here! Ask any elementary school teacher...

I think we all realize change is inevitable but with the pace of change happening at a faster and more immediate pace than at any time in our history, I’m worried some people (including some really good teachers) who don’t see this change happening around them, are going to be left behind. The stakes are too high and millions are families are counting on our educational system to deliver. The next generation of students are here, they are in our pre-K and elementary classrooms and as a result, some of our teachers will need to “unlearn” certain beliefs, assumptions, and values about learning that cannot necessarily be attributed to this new student demographic.