Classroom support for Generation Z
With over 25 years’ leadership and teaching experience, Nicola Hankey a year 5 teacher and SEND Co-ordinator discusses how the classroom environment has changed over the years, explaining that it is time to alter the way we approach and deliver successful interventions for generation ‘Z’.
Teaching in todays’ classroom it’s hard not to marvel at just how digitally literate pupils are. Children born in the early 2000s, Generation Z, have grown up surrounded by technology and often struggle to imagine a life any different.
However, teaching children who can often use iPads before they can write, are fluent in emojis and live in an age where there is an app to answer every need presents a unique challenge for even the most tech savvy class teacher.
Whilst there is certainly no one solution to fit every child, here are some effective strategies to help you unlock potential in the modern classroom.
1. Build a support team!
For interventions to work and be successful, parents, carers, teachers and children need to be involved in the creation and implementation of support. When delivering interventions you must make sure the entire support team is working together; teachers must implement support within school, parents must help continue support outside the classroom and children themselves need to be aware of their goals and the steps required to work towards them.
In the modern classroom, you can harness the power of digital communications and technology to quickly share information and send regular updates to keep all those involved working in the same direction.
2. Make support pupil led!
Generation Z pupils tend to be independent workers and thrive when they are involved in making decisions an setting their own educational targets.
I sometimes use a simple questionnaire where pupils use smiley faces to identify their learning barriers and select which intervention strategies they think would work best for themselves. The questionnaire usually contains simple questions like, “Do you enjoy working in pirate club?” or “Do you feel it helps you get better at reading?”. Sometimes, we take this a step further and ask about how the interventions impact the child’s learning experience.
3. Confidence is key!
One of the most effective ways to motivate a generation which thrives off praise and rewards is to get children to identify their own strengths, as well as areas where they think they might benefit from more support.
When children work together in a classroom it can also help to build their confidence. Encouraging pupils to recommend books to each other or to younger pupils, as well as getting them to help out in class can help them to feel engaged and trusted with knowledge and different tasks.
4. Fun is important too!
When children are surrounded by many technological distractions it can be challenging to keep pupils’ concentration in the classroom.
However, by incorporating some of the latest technology into children’s’ learning you can help to engage pupil in the classroom, capture their attention. Moving away from traditional paper-based tests we use a combination of machine learning techniques and eye tracking technology to quickly and accurately assess reading progress before and after interventions.
The assessment programme, by Lexplore Analytics, is fun for pupils and provides teachers with an onjective insight into literacy in a matter of minutes. Such apps and online tools provoke much less anxiety for children, especially those with special educational needs.
5. Learning outside of the classroom
Technology plays a hugely important role in the modern classroom, however, leaving the computer screens and venturing into the outdoors can also have a positive impact on engagement and learning.
Encouraging pupils to get active in outdoor clubs, treasure trails and nature walks can help children to discover new sights, sounds. Venturing outdoors can also encourage children to communicate and interact differently with their teachers and classmates.
Children will often respond differently to different interventions and so finding the best techniques for each child can often be a case of trail and error. However, by keeping your mind open when it comes to trying out new classroom technologies and activities you can help set all your generation Z pupils on an educational pathway to success.