"‘Gen Y’ Teachers Want to Innovate; Education Leaders Lag Behind" edweek article

"‘Gen Y’ Teachers Want to Innovate; Education Leaders Lag Behind"
By Sabrina Laine

from the article:

Generation Y teachers, those 20-somethings who connect with their friends via online social-networking sites and live with the world at their fingertips, are inherently going to be incompatible with a stagnant education system that can be painfully isolating and uninspiring. Will the system bend to their will or break their spirit? What does the answer mean for the future of public education in this country?

Whether schools nurture or negate the ideas of Gen Y teachers will be the 21st-century litmus test for their ability to lead in a knowledge-driven, global economy that is growing increasingly, and exponentially, competitive as our students fall dangerously behind. Just as the workplace is learning how to integrate Gen Y professionals on the brink of the biggest labor shortage in history, schools need a lesson in leveraging the next generation of teachers to take learning to the next level.

Generation Y teachers want to create, not conform. They want to color off the page, but are told to teach to the test. They want to work in small groups, but are given unmanageable numbers of students. They want to commune with colleagues online and across the school, but they are confined to their classrooms and limited to one-on-one teacher mentoring. They are sometimes pressured by peers to maintain the status quo, but they want the power to make a difference. They want financial stability and respect, but the importance of their role is monetarily marginalized. They want to co-teach, job-share, receive bonuses, and try their hand at leadership roles, but unions and politics can be unmovable barriers to work/life balance and optimum job satisfaction. But most important of all, Gen Y teachers want support from their leaders to innovate and inspire their students."

Any reactions to the article?

Tags: 21st+century+skills, administrative+support, innovation

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<,Also, i>84 percent believe that making it easier to terminate unmotivated or incompetent teachers would improve teacher quality overall, and over half of new teachers believe that tying their salary increases to the assessments of principals and colleagues also would be an effective way to improve matters.

Now, c'mon. Hasn't anyone explained to them that education is not like other organizations?
Hi Ed,
Interesting points. BTW, where can I see some stats like that? Can you give a reference link?
No, no one has explained that the business model isn't exactly right for education. (although education is a business, and we have to look at that, too.)
Connie, the stats ( the quote) are from the article.
As a new teacher passionate about new ways of teaching, collaboration, web2.0, this resonates with me in so many ways. Believe I'll write a blog post about it - not enough room here :-) Will come back and put post link here...........
please do share the post--
It'd be great to hear from a new teacher, passionate about new ways of teaching.
I'm an old teacher (30 yeas experience teaching) and I'm passionate about the new ways of teaching. Would be fun to share perspectives. We could get some forums going about the "angles" people are coming into web2.0 from; bet there's a lot to learn.
Well, I honestly believe that the challenge goes far beyond the "generation gap" between educators and administrators.

If there is not a culture on campus that supports innovative teaching practices and provides the resources, development, training, and sustainability to implement such teaching, then it will be difficult to retain high quality educators.

From my experience, the most successful academic departments are those that strive to create this environment for their educators.
Yes, Mary, I agree. It's about the culture on campus.
But to some degree it's also about seeking out the culture (which may be a new culture, one outside of school) that will be supportive to personal and professional growth. Web2.0 allows us to move outwards, finding the inspirations professional links we need.
I agree with you about the f2f component. If there are roadblocks in the system, how can we deliver the tools to the students and watch over them as they explore the tools?
Agreed. I find the generational labels to be a little polarizing and simplistic. It's attitude and that defies generational boundaries. And the attitudinal shift can be achieved with the resources, training, and policy adjustments that encourage collaboration and innovation.
The interest/desire for greater innovation is not limited by one's generation. I'm a Gen Xer and I want the same things that are described in this article.

Additionally, as Mary stated in her comment -- a culture/climate conducive to innovation is required for success. When I started my K-12 teaching career (at the age of 29 after a few years of teaching at the college level) my first job was on a brand new campus that was designed to be "different." Every teacher who opened that school had passion for innovation and there was some really dynamic teaching going on -- and the teachers ranged in age from 20s to 60s with many "veteran teachers." The innovative spirit was not limited to one generational cohort on that campus. Then as soon as the administration changed so did the climate and culture of the school (it took a couple of years) -- and now that campus is a testing-factory.

My reaction to this article? I want all of the like-minded educators (regardless of generational cohort) to come together to reinvent a new education system that is more innovative and responsive to the needs of the 21st century. If the system won't budge -- then why should we continue to work inside of the system? Anyone out there want to fund an innovative charter school in Houston, TX? :)
Anyone out there want to fund an innovative charter school in Houston, TX? :)
Well, I see Kipp is there. Google lists at least 10 more in Houston.

To me the interesting question is, how do you take the lessons learned from these schools, and spread them throughout the profession. Its good news to see so many young teachers with these ideas. Will they keep the ideals, or have them beaten out?

I call this the World Class Knowledge Worker issue: we can name plenty of other professions where world class knowledge worker ethos is standard; where agility, innovation, and quality control are the envy of the world.

What do those professions have to tell education leaders?
KIPP and YES Prep are in Houston -- and both are expanding. But I wouldn't call either of them models for innovation. There are issues with both of those programs despite the successes that they have had, and both will admit that there are some students that their programs just don't work for (very low achievers, special ed, GT, etc.) Additionally, both programs do have some issues with teacher burnout -- and there is a reason that they try to attract young, new teachers who have yet to start families. That is not to say that there are not some positive aspects of what they do -- and they do have documented success rates with the students who complete their programs. They are simply one option for some students.
I'm with ya, Steph. I don't see this as being an age issue. It's an awareness issue and the challenge is in making the Big E institution of Education aware that what's "always worked" hasn't worked as well as they think for at least fifty years.

"My reaction to this article? I want all of the like-minded educators (regardless of generational cohort) to come together to reinvent a new education system that is more innovative and responsive to the needs of the 21st century. . . Anyone out there want to fund an innovative charter school in Houston, TX? :)"

If you're gonna innovate, why not REALLY innovate?

Why a school? Let's start with figuring out what the goal is.

Is it supporting Education?
Is it supporting Learning?
Is it supporting Society?
Is it ... what?

(And PLEASE don't talk to me about Education AND Learning ... They are only tangentially related. One HOPES that Education leads to Learning, but Learning happens all the time in the absence of Education.)

If we're interested in a simple goal of helping people (adults and kids) become productive members of society, that's one thing.

If we're intereested in a simple goal of helping people (adults and kids) become self-actualized human beings, that's another. Bless Maslow's pointed lil pyramid, we'll need to deal with all the steps - but that may or may not include becoming a productive member of THIS society, but some other.

Is *school* the answer? Heck, is Education even the answer?

Or are we so enured to the status quo that innovation is only possible within the confines of the established box? If the root problem is the box, how would we know and how can we deal with it?



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