"Design your teaching effectively for this Gen Z audience..." (9 min read)
Sorry for the grammar, but these notes are written quick and dirty.
It is not so hard to define this generation, when you put yourself into their perspective of life.
All of the kids in my classes are born AFTER 2003, they grew up in a world where the web ALREADY EXISTED for years and even facebook and youtube launched in their first 2-3 years of age. ALSO their parents generation shared most of their childhood online. They learned how to pinch and swipe EVEN BEFORE they got into elementary school and come along with an experience, which is half way founded in social media and in online content. They got in touch with it since they owned their first smart device, mostly at the age of ten to eleven.
So in this generation, normal is the old unconventional. AND secondly: Gen Z is absolutely remotely connected to the whole WORLD.
(BUT... they have to learn something IMPORTANT! They need to use those possibilities as TOOLS, NOT only as a thing which can be CONSUMED. - i always tell this to my students)
But here is the fact: most of the kids i asked, consume 2 to 4 hours per day just only at youtube PLUS even more on social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. (Facebook isn’t that cool enough, because their parents are already in)
So they communicate the most over these channels. Simply, they use it MORE THAN ANY generation before.
SO... their attention is definitely and at the most on social media and no other conventional medium like tv, radio or print anymore.
In my case “the coaches” or teachers nowadays have to dig deep and work insightfully in order to craft value messages, methods, and experiences that will engage these media-knowledged kids.
Understand the psychology.
To design your teach effectively for this Gen Z audience, a coach/teacher must first understand what makes them tick. If you look close enough, these kids look for solutions on their own and are most of the times, even completely capable of achieving them independently. BECAUSE they DO NOT KNOW a life without any smart technologies like computers, smartphones or gaming devices. They use them to solve their everyday problems, EVERY DAY.
As a coach/teacher you have to fill the “room” with experience which depends on “problem solving” projects to empower this generation to be the best versions of themselves.
With Experience that will stick.
SO give them the chance to do it on their own, and provide them personal experience only in the worst case. The thing, i definitely know these days, is that their is no more right or wrong, only the “how to get there”. Because in this jungle of mass media, knowledge at the fingertips and lightspeed communication, there is no define path anymore for these Gen Z individuals. EVEN in there upcoming careers.
Often, they are smarter than you. Embrace it!!
What i wanna say is, you only can provide a modular toolkit, so they will curate their own individual approach. Which is also important to immerse yourself in their world, listen to them, and include them in the process as co-coaches/co-teachers/co-creators. You only guide them depending on your own experience when they lose their clearway, and when your are doing so, your messages should feel personal.
I almost like to say something individualized to each of them, knowing my students good enough in a way that it feels like it comes from a close friend, incorporate casual, everyday language, and even slang into my speak.
Because since Gen Z operates in a world of constant communication with friends and family, i use to have it too. This means NOT, that i baby everyone everyday or spread my phone number across the kid's, no. But i have to be remotely connected to the whole WORLD as they are. Which means to communicate over the same channels where i can provide my value too. My students see me at Youtube, Instagram, Twitter and so on.
What i do is, i place my kind of game, MY PASSION on these channels, my everyday impulse of what i do, the same thing like in class, only at this time, out of the classroom.
My “work” in class, is driven by my passion, video making and art, and the life i share is also driven by my passion. I educate myself because of my passion and bring it back into “work”.
--- Sidenote ---
The “work” with kids is the most valuable and magnificent job you can ever have.
--- Sidenote end---
Now, i see me as a “coach”, who has enough time to leverage his passion and also teach it, to lit up somebody else with it.
It is a kind of a circle-system. → GOOD!
Embrace bright passion.
Not only Gen Z likes passion, all generations before too. So EVERYBODY´s passion can grab attention and also, passion empowers you to teach less harder.
--- next short & quick sidenote ---
GET YOURSELF IN A POSITION WHERE YOU DON'T LOSE YOUR MOTHER&%$!ING PASSION - if you haven't found your passion yet, get yourself elsewhere where you never was before or do something you didn't before, GET YOURSELF OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE in which you are complaining to much. BUT the BEST way to find your passion is this, DO something YOU NEVER WANNA DO and DO THIS for A LOT OF TIME! In this situation, if u really really do something you HATE, but u are forced to do it, your brain starts thinking…thinking and thinking, ABOUT WHAT you are really wanna do! In repeat in repeat in repeat...
So, to check this up, do what you was thinking about AND by doing it...when you feel pissed that you has to sleep/fall asleep, when you are doing it... you are winning, if not, try from the beginning.
--- next short & quick sidenote end---
Also, when you are designing your teach for this age group, don’t baby things down. Embrace trends and solutions they saw and see and mix it up with your experience. Be fearless as you experiment with new methods, combinations and unexpected partnerships from their perspective. MOSTLY, if it catches your attention, heart, ears and makes you look twice, it will do the same for Gen Z.
BUT DON'T BABY THINGS DOWN.
Because they are so tech savvy, Gen Z is way ahead of past generations in terms of exposure to solutions and solving problems. Today’s six-year-olds think and act in many ways like the 14-year-olds from two decades ago. Don’t baby things down, Gen Z wants to be treated like adults, and feeling like a class is “for babies” will send them running in the opposite direction.
The old way: “I chose this element because young kids like this,” THINK TWICE.
ALSO like blue for boys and pink for girls is no longer apply. They start in a young age to see themselves as a musician, a skateboarder, a photographer, a digital designer… THINK ABOUT IT. ASK THEM.
It is an everyday struggle… i still have to figure it out. I mean, to those who know me, i am the guy, who does cartoonish figures all over the place and see little astronauts and dragons by creating stories...
Gen Z is all about breaking down barriers. Gen Z completely disrupted these social clusters of the past and are instead fluid in their identities. Keep this fluidity in mind as you are teaching.
These are my thoughts. I want to clarify this change, for coaches and teachers all over the place, to develop new skills that will be useful to exploit it. Because...
Gen Z is USING technology and we are STILL able these days to provide them experience, but next Gen Alpha doesn't just use technology, they integrate it into their lives FLAWLESSLY.
So next decade another game.
As a coach, you always have to adjust your game.
But you maybe know, that the coach is always the one, who is willing to win... the game. ;)
Love ya! Thanks for reading. Really i mean it.
09/2017 Jürgen Auerswald