By Abigail Sabijon
What happens when you put a millennial in a classroom to teach a bunch of other millennials? Beautifully chaos, if I may say so. Beautiful, because despite the differences, you enrich one another. Chaotic, because Gen Ys are known to be firm with their views and principles. When going head-on with their passionate demographic, what then, should their millennial teachers expect to take place in the classroom? Furthermore, what should be done to give their academic experience a twist?
Statistics have shown that the time has indeed come for this cohort to take over the majority of the workforce, reshape the economy and ultimately, the world. Identifying their needs isn’t so difficult because I was my own guinea pig. I harnessed my advantage being a millennial myself. With that, I came up with strategies in dealing with learners like me on the premise: teach in such a way you’d want your teachers to teach you.
They’re as relentlessly passionate and idealistic as you are
Being digital natives, we’ve become aware of events beyond our borders. As a result, we’ve grown up to be socially conscious of the sense of responsibility in transforming the world. Along with that is the burning passion to make a difference in the littlest way possible. Of course, this desire can be fleeting, and they’d love it if you stir their emotions to mobilize them, materializing these dreams into fruition.
In addition, it really perks them up when their teacher is just as enthusiastic as them. Knowing that their teacher also shares the desire for change is a big deal. And it should always begin with the impartation of knowledge. They want to see and feel that teaching them is not a job but a passion, making them feel that they’re worth this much effort. Doing so is another way of communicating that you believe in them and in their capacity.
They crave the same dynamic environment that you do
The traditional style of teaching could still work on us. But in most cases, we prefer a dynamic learning environment where we can utilize all our senses. It’s like making the theories and the abstract palpable. When put into practice, I should say this is the most challenging.
They know there’s something more to the subject and they want to see that. They learn best when they experience what you’re blabbering about and they’re eager to show off their flexibility and multitasking prowess. Putting their core strengths into good use is key. Maximizing the use of technology for optimal learning should be showcased. Educating them is about going beyond the enclosures without going outdoors so frequently.
But before anything else, always prepare for the “why.” Another moniker for this generation is the Generation Y because they love to ask why. I do. Communicating with them in such a way they’d see your point clearly or in a different light if necessary, is crucial.
They’re open to your views and you should be too
Millennials are liberals. Not necessarily in the political sense of the word, but as an ethos brought about by their post-structuralist upbringing. There are times when they expect you to share their same views, but when you don’t, it often gets a bit messy. Fortunately, they’re eager to ask about my stand on a particular topic or issue. One way to avoid collateral damage is laying down your cards carefully. Showing them both sides of the coin is best, and never insist (though we’re inclined to do so). They’d appreciate you more if you take them seriously, but not too seriously.
They can be lax, so apply good pressure
Oh, how they despise the rigid and tedious aspects of education! Some do get easily overwhelmed by school requirements. While I have no choice but to give them plenty of activities for their grades, I’ve also learned to be flexible and offer them alternatives without the stress. There should be a balance. They hate it when they feel overwhelmed but they also need an adequate amount of pressure to deliver better results. Not only will this pressure develop a positive mental attitude towards their tasks, it’s also a way of telling them you’re still the boss around here.
Use sarcasm on their egos
This is not at all to brutally injure their ego. What I’m trying to say is that, as what my students admitted, they could use some trivial recognitions at times. I, myself, also have the tendency. I know there’s a need to feed their egos, but too much of it could lead to their demise. So when the situation calls for the breaking of the self-pride, I don’t usually go for instant retaliation. Instead, I go for something that works best on millennials: humor. Sarcasm is their favorite. It cracks them up until they just can’t even.
Give them more than just a student-teacher relationship
There’s nothing wrong with being friends with them as they’d really need some counsel and company occasionally. I constantly remind my students that I can be a best friend if they wish, but when it comes to being inside the classroom, let’s forget who we are for just an hour or two.
Being constantly connected online makes them feel significant. Having our own group chat for homework, the sending of class materials and aids brought us closer. Having rapport not only boosted their self-esteem, it also made dealing with them easier.
We millennials have indeed redefined education, among other things. A lot has been said about us, both good and bad. Who else can better understand us but one another? These qualities we possess aren’t something we can easily change, so the best way to cope is not by going against it but by looking for some common grounds and means to meet halfway.
Abigail Sabijon is a university instructor-turned blogger and editor of scoopfed.com and has also been a team counselor and trainer in an international language institute. Having married to a Gen X-er, she and her husband enjoy making the best of both generations.