Can young teachers crack the code? Educating Gen Z in a new era

Young teachers find success engaging Gen Z learners

17 May 2024 07:00am
Photo for illustration purpose only. - Photo by Bernama
Photo for illustration purpose only. - Photo by Bernama

SHAH ALAM - Teaching Gen Z students can be both rewarding and challenging due to their unique characteristics and the digital world they have grown up in, say young educators.

As educators across the globe celebrate Teachers' Day, they reflect on the evolving landscape of education and the strategies employed to engage and inspire the next generation.

For Loshenie Kanthayah, a 25-year-old educator, recognising the hurdles of teaching Gen Z is crucial.

"Some challenges include shorter attention spans, a desire for instant gratification, and a preference for digital communication over face-to-face interactions," she told Sinar Daily recently.

To address these obstacles, Loshenie integrated technology into her teaching methods.

"To manage these challenges, I would incorporate technology into my teaching to keep them engaged.

"This could include using multimedia resources, interactive apps, and online collaboration tools," she said.

Loshenie further stressed the importance of relevance, connecting lessons to real-world issues to captivate her students' interest.

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"I would also strive to make my lessons relevant and relatable to their lives, connecting the material to real-world issues and current events," she added.

"I would encourage active participation and provide frequent feedback to maintain their interest and motivation.

"Overall, I believe that understanding and adapting to the needs of Gen Z students can lead to a more effective and enjoyable teaching experience for both educators and students," she added.

Meanwhile, Vineetha Muniandy, also 25, teaches English at a government primary school and acknowledged the pressures Gen Z faces.

"Gen Z can be both easy and hard to teach because one thing stress among these generations is the relentless academic pressure they endure.

"The change in textbooks, higher education standards, and foreign contexts makes the learning experience a little more challenging.

"Auto correctors, digital dictionaries, and Googling homework make them sluggisher towards thinking because everything now is at their fingertips," she added.

She adopts personalised approaches, employing games, group discussions, and hands-on activities to cater to individual learning styles.

Recognising the disparity in access to resources, Vineetha aims to bridge the gap by simplifying lessons and providing support tailored to students' proficiency levels.

Commenting further, Sobitaa Thiruch Selvan, another 25-year-old teacher, found joy in the diversity of Gen Z students.

"Interacting with such interesting characters who view the world completely differently is an enriching experience," Sobitaa said.

Despite initially feeling like an 'alien' in their world, Sobitaa embraced the challenge, continually adapting her approach to create an inclusive learning environment.

"Gen Z is definitely a piece of work during teaching. It's almost a feeling of being an alien inside their world with their language and culture.

"However, I enjoy being able to interact with such interesting characters as they view the world in a completely different way than I do," she said.

What legacy do you hope to leave behind as a teacher?

Loshenie anticipates her legacy as a beacon of inspiration and empowerment.

"I would hope to leave behind a legacy of inspiration and empowerment," she said.

For her, teaching is not merely about imparting knowledge but about fostering belief in one's abilities, and she aims to be remembered as the educator who not only believed in her students but also encouraged them to believe in themselves, nurturing a love for learning that extends beyond the classroom.

Meanwhile, Vineetha finds profound meaning in the role of a teacher.

"Being a teacher at this age has taught me a lot about how to be a great teacher and a good human being," she said.

Her students affectionately addressed her as 'mum', which has transformed her perspective on teaching.

To her, acts of love and kindness hold immeasurable value and can scintillate transformative change.

She believes in the power teachers possess to shape lives, aiming to impart knowledge and inspire, motivate, and nurture young minds.

For Sobitaa, she approaches her legacy with a sense of warmth and accessibility.

"Probably, I want my students to always remember that I was the cool teacher who always had time and energy for them," she said.