As I do this time every year, these last few days have been filled with the wonderful activity of presenting young teachers with their Continuous Contract. I have written about this in the past – here. These celebrations have been taking place in our Division for 8 years now, moving from in-person to Zoom last year due to Covid.
What’s nothing short of incredible to me, is the fact that the majority of these teachers are experiencing the very first year of their career in a global pandemic, with all the never before seen challenges that come along with it. And just when they seem to gain some traction with what is happening today, new government measures force them to pivot and figure out how to reach their students in different ways tomorrow. Let’s not forget that being a first year teacher is extremely challenging – in a normal year.
I’ve been reflecting on why they are doing so well.
Most of our new teachers were born in the mid 90s and therefore part of Generation Z, so the secret to their success may lie here. Individuals born in this era are very tech savvy, having been raised during a period of fast paced digital growth. With this in mind, I think of how these young teachers have transitioned seamlessly from in-person to online teaching this year and last. Many of them even mentored their more experienced colleagues when it came to setting up digital platforms and engaging with students virtually. And with diversity being identified as the societal norm for Gen Zers, it is my belief that reaching every student through whatever means possible is their norm as well. This quality has served them well during a time where economic inequality has been magnified, leaving underprivileged students and their families with additional barriers to engagement and learning.
It would be remiss of me not to comment on one of the documented challenges with the Gen Z culture. With the turbulent state of our world today stress and mental health issues have become prevalent. Having said this, so to has the importance of self care unlike earlier generations. Of course, there are those who have had their struggles and It helps that workplaces everywhere (including our schools) are now placing a higher degree of importance on the wellness of their employees. It’s also nice to see that the majority of our first years have struck the right balance between work life and personal life. 🙂
Whatever the reason, new teachers have come through this challenging time remarkably well. As we carry out our Zoom celebrations and present contracts this month, we should all be thankful for the work they (and all teachers) have done. What a way to begin a teaching career.
After a year like no other, on to next year we go.