New Kids on the Block: Reaching and Teaching Generation Alpha

August 08, 2023

Nneka McGee

Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

Photo of young students using technology

Generational divides can create dissension and confusion, but it’s more important than ever for each generation to learn from the others when it comes to education. Generation Z is entering the teaching workforce, millennials have plenty of years and experience under their belts, Generation X is nearing retirement and baby boomer teachers are still serving students daily. With four generations making up today’s teaching profession, how can such different perspectives unify to grow Generation Alpha?

According to Mark McCrindle, Generation Alpha refers to children born in 2010 or later. The oldest members of Generation Alpha are in middle school, living in a society inundated with technology that is increasingly powered by AI.

Each generation of teachers has its own tendencies. While these tendencies of course do not apply to everyone, they are a helpful starting point when it comes to talking about how each generation tends to approach instruction.

Generational Strengths That Support Reaching and Teaching Generation Alpha

Baby Boomers
(1946 – 1964)
Generation X
(1965 – 1980)
(1981 – 1996)
Generation Z
(1997 – 2012*)
● Goal setting
● Promoting life-long learning
● Character
● Classroom management
● Adaptability
● Balance of traditional and technical
● Independent learning
● Problem-solving
● Collaboration
● Innovation
● Technology integration
● Social-emotional learning
● Digital immersion
● Global perspectives
● Cultural sensitivity
* Generation Z overlaps with Generation Alpha by two years

So, what do these four generations of teachers offer Generation Alpha, and how can they collaborate?

  1. Collaborate with other generations for classroom technology tips. Generation Alpha is well-positioned as the most technologically-proficient learners in our society, and teachers from all generations need to have this knowledge to incorporate digital tools in the classroom. Baby boomers and Generation X may benefit from millennial and Generation Z teachers’ ideas on ways to integrate technology into lessons and activities.
  2. Be aware of the dangers of technology. The influx of information available to students can thwart critical thinking, judgment and media literacy skills necessary for the digital age. Baby boomers and Generation X are more likely to bring historical perspectives for current events, guiding Generation Alpha through the facts, fiction and opinions proliferating on social media. Teachers from Generation Z can also incorporate their skills in understanding various cultural viewpoints, which deepens learning experiences for Generation Alpha.
  3. Build social-emotional awareness. Another vital component of Generation Alpha’s learning experiences is social-emotional learning. Millennials are known for prioritizing mental and emotional health, which aligns with the emphasis Generation Alpha places on social-emotional learning. Generation Z is closest in age to Generation Alpha, so their perspectives can help other generations better understand how to reach younger students.

Even with significant age and experience differences, each generation of teachers has important skills to teach Generation Alpha. Teachers are responsible for preparing students for an ever-changing future. The best way to educate Generation Alpha is to incorporate all the different perspectives and unique experiences from multiple generations, so it’s important to learn from your colleagues, leverage each other’s strengths and focus on developing the whole child for the future they will soon inherit.

Ready to teach the next generation? Learn more about the education programs at American College of Education here.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of American College of Education.
Nneka McGee
Nneka McGee, Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

Dr. Nneka J. McGee is an innovative educator, researcher and advocate dedicated to creating and promoting pathways that provide students access and opportunities to navigate a future driven by automation and artificial intelligence. Prior to earning her Ed.D. at American College of Education, Nneka obtained a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and a juris doctorate. As part of her doctoral studies, she researched the experiences of K-12 teachers implementing or planning to implement artificial intelligence in classroom learning environments. She is a sought-after speaker on artificial intelligence in education and has shared her work as a panelist or presenter at national, state, regional and local conferences. Nneka is a proud member of HAKing Innovation’s Board of Directors, a non-profit, social impact organization on a mission to create a community of technical talent by exposing students to STEM experiences. She also serves as an AI practitioner advisory board member for the Engage AI Institute and was selected as an EdSAFE AI Alliance Fellow.

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