Examples not working? Jokes gone flat? Seinfeld references missed faster than you can say, “No soup for you?” Don’t worry, it’s not just you.
Here are some things you should know about millennials in order to better connect with them.
- Millennials are used to being protected. They’re used to their parents hovering over them or sweeping in to save the day. Terms like “helicopter” or “lawnmowerparents” are now truer than ever. Keep that in mind.
- Millennials are team-oriented. Crowdsourcing is something they’ve grown up with, so group work and relying on a team is nothing new to them.
- Millennials are achievement-oriented. Keep in mind that this generation above all others has been exposed to standardized testing and education movement. This provides them with an internalized value of results far above the process of learning itself.
- Millennials are pressured. Due to this focus on achievement, they’ve been feeling the pressure to be the best for quite some time.
- Get to know your students. It’s impossible to connect with students on any level until you gain an understanding of what sort of knowledge and experience they are already bringing to your classroom. Start out with a formative assessment of some kind to allow students to share what they know, and what gaps they may have in understanding your class content.
- Show your students ways to organize and apply knowledge. Millennials are used to getting information at lightning speed, and usually in various different ways, so teaching how to process all of this material is a good place to start. Incorporating different types of materials for teaching each concept can be helpful as well.
- Discuss the value of failure. Because this generation is so focused on achievement, they often lose sight of the ways in which failure can work as a good learning tool. Provide opportunities in your classroom that are low stakes, and focus on working on the process involved in learning a concept rather than the product. These could be group activities, discussion posts, or hypothesis-driven activities. Emphasizing the importance of the learning process is also a good way to establish intrinsic motivation.