Managing Millennial and Generation Z Teachers

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As new generations of music teachers enter the workforce, music education administrators and senior educators may find the needs and drives of younger teachers unfamiliar. In order to shape their music programs effectively, administrators must learn what these new generations of teachers need in order to achieve success and satisfaction. As you work toward your Master of Music in music education, it’s important to learn how to lead others of all ages and beliefs.

Discover some of the primary motivations of millennial and Generation Z educators and learn how to inspire and drive these music teachers.

Young music teachers collaborate using technology.

Encourage Collaboration and Teamwork

Both millennial and Generation Z teachers typically bring confidence and innovation to music programs, but few want their work to be exclusively independent. Instead, collaboration tends to be key for younger teachers.

To accommodate these needs, music program administrators should do their best to encourage colleagues to collaborate. Since Generation Z teachers tend to be exceedingly tech-savvy, music programs should consider introducing technology and apps that make teamwork and group projects easy to participate in and manage.

Offer Frequent Feedback

Many established music teachers have grown accustomed to receiving official evaluations only once or twice over the course of an academic year. Since both millennial and Generation Z teachers tend to thrive with more frequent feedback, administrators should consider effective methods for providing consistent and continual feedback.

As John Rampton suggests in Inc., receiving regular feedback via email or face-to-face conversations enables millennial teachers to track their own performance and maintain accountability. Writing for Forbes, Deep Patel suggests that becoming part of an ongoing feedback loop frees Generation Z teachers from the micromanagement that they typically prefer to avoid and allows them to participate in open conversations instead.

Guide Teachers Toward Growth

In many school systems and educational programs, growth, pay scales, and job titles are relatively regimented. Since millennial and Generation Z teachers typically strive for more rapid growth than their predecessors did, however, program managers may need to approach growth opportunities with renewed creativity.

Jeff Haden writes in Inc. that administrators may consider providing new learning opportunities or advanced training and development initiatives, especially for millennial teachers. These opportunities may enable younger teachers to progress their skills and further their careers at a relatively rapid rate, and these initiatives may even help to foster a positive workplace culture.

Inspire Creativity

While teachers in prior generations may have been comfortable working within traditional educational structures, younger educators tend to crave creativity and independence. In HRVoice, Jordann Donskey says that Generation Z teachers tend to be more entrepreneurial than their predecessors, and embracing opportunities to explore their own innovative ideas may help them feel more fulfilled in the workplace.

In some cases, encouraging creativity and individuality may involve allowing educators to complete tasks in their preferred working environments. Although music educators must typically provide in-person instruction in the classroom or performance space, music programs can consider allowing teachers to conduct preparation and administration tasks wherever they choose. Generation Z and millennial teachers are likely to prefer this flexibility over committing to additional classroom or office time.

Administrators and music program managers should take care not to allow creativity and individuality to get in the way of structure, though. Generation Z teachers in particular thrive with structural components, including routine schedules, stated deadlines, and clearly defined goals. With structure in place, millennial and Generation Z teachers can better hone their skills, pursue their passions, and inspire their students to excel.

Make Leaders Accessible

While music teachers of all generations typically expect to fit into a workplace hierarchy, millennial and Generation Z teachers may not be as comfortable with a rigid structure that prevents them from engaging with administrators and other leaders. Instead, teachers from these generations tend to seek out meaningful interactions with their superiors.

To encourage the professional relationships that millennial and Generation Z teachers need, administrators should strive to make themselves available to teachers at every level. By offering open communication and conveying the institution’s mission and vision in a personal way, Karsten Strauss writes in Forbes, administrators can inspire Generation Z and millennial teachers to make high-level contributions and be their best in the workplace.

Create a Welcoming Workplace Culture

Schools may not have extensive budgets for expensive employee perks, but they can still strive to provide the incentives and create the welcoming workplace culture that both Generation Z and millennial music teachers desire. John Rampton suggests that establishing a quiet, restorative space for teachers to relax and prepare for classes may be an excellent starting point for many schools.

Creating a welcoming culture goes beyond the space itself, however. Music programs and schools can create a positive work culture by establishing key values, encouraging inclusive team outings, and scheduling events that bring educators together and engage Generation Z and millennial teachers. Administrators should also keep in mind that Generation Z teachers tend to prefer a workplace culture that emphasizes meaningful benefits and encourages professional loyalty to blossom.

Make Technology Readily Accessible

Neither millennial nor Generation Z educators are strangers to technology. In fact, most Generation Z teachers have used computers and smartphones for their entire lives, and they excel at using the latest high-tech programs and tools in the classroom and for professional development.

Established administrators may not have such a strong relationship with technology, but they should still strive to make it available for teachers and students. Consulting with newer teachers about incorporating technology into the classroom and purchasing high-tech tools may serve as a smart starting point for many music programs. In The Journal, David Raths points out that administrators may also consider prioritizing the introduction of tablets into the classroom, using technology for student assessments, and even rehearsing via social media platforms.

While insight into generational differences can certainly help to guide faculty oversight, senior teachers and administrators also need advanced education in order to manage music teachers effectively. Visit the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music at Kent State University to learn more about how an online Master of Music in music education can prepare administrators to lead tomorrow’s millennial and Generation Z teachers.



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