Home Leadership LeadersHIP: How a New Era of School Leaders Connect with Students in the Digital Generation

LeadersHIP: How a New Era of School Leaders Connect with Students in the Digital Generation

by Dr. Bruce Ellis

A new generation of school leaders are changing the way that they interact and connect with students as a result of how the students respond to their digital world. What does this new version of “leadersHIP” look like? These teachers are well versed in:

Communication – They understand the importance of effective communication with students, both online and off, with the words they choose, tone, and body language. They model appropriate discussion posts, but are not afraid to use emojis to add a visual cue.

Relevance – The shelf life of information is increasingly becoming shorter. With 90% of the Internet content created in just the last two years, teachers must consistently pull authentic topics from the world to relate to students.

Responsiveness – A student’s life is a constant stream of messages, chats, and memes. Being always connected, they desire immediate feedback on projects and posts. Be upfront about your feedback timeline and be consistent.

Relationship – Make the classroom a safe environment where failure is part of the learning process. Give students a sense of belonging, purpose, and voice.

Challenges – While there are many opportunities with technology to connect with students, there are also as many challenges to overcome. Don’t fall for the “quick fixes” and avoid gimmicks. Technology has integrated seamlessly and effortlessly into the lives of students. It is not just a tool; it is an extension of themselves. Most teachers, however, still view technology use as a tool and as such, are transactors of technology – viewing technology with purpose, procedure, and task-oriented.

“The best way to connect with students is to demonstrate that you truly care. This starts with getting to know who they are. Once you know who they are, you must use that information to deliver instruction and mold the interactions you have with them. If you can do that and do it consistently, there will be a connection that is deep because they will feel your genuineness; that’s all kids want – that’s all anyone wants.” – Christina Baker, Academic Dean Fort Sam Houston ISD.

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