Rialto High School (RHS) teachers speak on the forbidden subject … Teaching Gen Z. Generation Z is the demographic starting in the mid to late 1990s birth years and ending in early 2010s birth years.
After two years of dealing with the pandemic, Gen Z teens are back in the spotlight. To some, Gen Z students have a reputation for being sensitive, dramatic, and, sometimes, unwilling. Teachers, being around their Gen Z students the most, feel and recognize these different personalities, and that affects how they teach the new generation.
Gen Z’s social climate was disrupted after being secluded from society during the pandemic and that affected students mentally and physically. For teachers, that meant adjusting to a new element of students. RHS AVID and APUSH teacher Patrick Kimmons says that “being sensitive to a lot of students who were traumatized by the pandemic” was one of the struggles that came with transitioning the learning environment from online to in-person.
Another notable detail of teaching Gen Z students is the lack of respect some students have for teachers. Kimmons adds, “Kids are less concerned about being respectful in the classroom and to adults.” With that said, overall, Kimmons hopes his Gen Z students “grow as people and academically.”
MESA and science teacher John Carter says students were “nervous about coming within six feet of another person, let alone a crowd.” Because of this, working in groups or with partners was difficult for teachers to uphold. Carter says that after last year he realized his goals for students are to help them “develop useful skills and develop good habits.”
English teacher Erika Campos understands how the pandemic affected students. Campos says, “I noticed less participation and an overall feeling of apathy, understandably … Several others are still apathetic about their ability to succeed.” Students may be in an academic decline, but Campos hopes for a turnaround. Apex classes have been the one thing students have to get back on track besides the three sessions of summer school that were offered. Overall, Campos says, “My goal is to be a supportive and understanding teacher to my students.”
While this is only the perspective of a few, all teachers have had to adjust their teaching, not only for Gen Z students, but for Gen Z students coming back from living through a pandemic.