How to Reach the 21st Century Student

This post was quest-written by Darlin’, a not-at-all-disgruntled-teacher, from keyandarrow.com

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On the same degree to which my preteen students often leave me perplexed, they almost simultaneously make it all worth while, and I must take time to ponder the ways to reach these complex creatures.  What I have discovered thus far: 

Step 1:  It’s All in the Name.  Introduce yourself as Ms. or Mr. (Insert last name first initial here).  Anything longer than that will take too long to enter into their smart devices.  Plus, it’s more difficult for them to turn your last name into an insult; i.e., Ms. Wright is Ms. Wrong, Mr. Johnson’s Johnson, and Mrs. Brown makes me frown.  See?  Easy.

Step 2:  It’s All in the Presentation.  Begin class with a video.  Make sure they know how long the video is.  This is the only thing that matters.

Step 3:  What are We Doing?  It doesn’t matter if it’s written all over the whiteboard and your forehead, you must answer this question as soon as possible, or the 21st Century student will seem to mimic spontaneous combustion or what might be commonly mistaken as a seizure.

Step 4: No, We Are NOT Having a Free-Day.  But you are free to do whatever I ask you to do.  Completely free.

Step 5:  Yes, We Are Going to Have Fun Today.  Everything we do is fun.  You must get them to understand this.  Assess them quarterly over their mastery of this topic.

Step 6: Avoid Four-Letter Words. Like T-E-S-T, for example.  Instead, use words like “assessment” or “tell-me-how-much-smart-you-are-assignment.”  You must also announce the test tell-me-how-smart-you-are-assignment every five to ten minutes, perhaps with the aid of an old-fashioned megaphone, so they don’t accuse you of not telling them about it.  If not, the risk you are willing to take must outweigh speaking into a giant cone.

Step 7:  No, Your Parent Did NOT Forget Your Homework.

Step 8: If All Else Fails, Tap Dance??

Step 9: Tangents.  They are way too skilled at this for their own good.  You must develop a thick skin, even if they ask you to describe the careful process you took to ensure the pie you baked last night for your book club in which nobody there seemed interested in how many hours you worked to get the crust just right and the tartness just tart enough but not too tart because all they cared about was “was there enough wine?”  No, not even that.

Step 10: If at All Possible, Allow Smart Devices.  It doesn’t matter how boring the assignment, it just got ten times better because you allowed them to peck at tiny keys.

Step 11. Birthday Parties Are More Important Than Your Homework Assignment.  Don’t be hard on them for this; your students may not include “priorities” in their vocabulary.   However, don’t bother them by asking them to look it up in the dictionary; “dictionary” is not in their vocabulary.  According to them, dictionaries date back to the Cretaceous period.  Instead, repeat the following helpful phrase, “GOOGLE the word, “p-r-i-o-r-i-t-y.”

Step 12:  I Lost it Sometimes Means I Don’t Plan on Looking For It.  Make friends with the copying machine.  Though, I’m warning you, she’s a beast.

Step 13:  One Direction is Your Favorite Band, Too.  Don’t know who they are?  Just say it.  You’ll thank me later.

Warning: Listen at your own risk.

Step 14:  Relate Everything to Pop Culture.  Peruse the following examples for guidance:

Language Arts Lesson: Avoid fragments in your writing, or you’ll appear as though missing an essential like that Miley Cyrus.  Math Lesson: One was recently divorced, and one recently had a child.  How many Kardashians do you have?

Step 15: Don’t Underestimate Them.  They might just create your next frustrating iPhone update.

In Jest,

Ms. W.

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