There’s a new buzzword in professional development clinics:  generational fluency.  Generational fluency addresses the need for companies and businesses to recognize that they very likely have four generations of workers within their workforce, each with their own perceptions.  The four generations are the Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and the iGen, in order from oldest to youngest.  

     One can see differences in communication (face-to-face vs. text or picture), in the “work week” (traditional 40-hour work week vs. flex-schedule), and in the way workers get their information (supervisor vs. the Internet).  A lack of awareness of these differences can cause misperceptions about those in differing generational groups. 

     That last statement seems pretty obvious, huh?  My students and my own children, however, teach me every day that we do not think alike.  If I don’t take the time to understand what they are doing, I sometimes perceive that they don’t care.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, I find that my children and my students care a lot.  A whole lot.  More than I ever remember caring at their age.  Goodness, at my daughter’s age, I had been married for a year, moving straight from my father’s house to my husband’s house, and I was actually guilty of believing what everyone used to joke about:  “Of course, I still have money.  I still have checks!”

    I have encouraged my students to think of school as their job.  In fact, they do have “jobs” within the school day, and they get “paid” credit score points for the work.  Those points open up privileges.  I don’t think it’s the credit score points that motivate my students to take their jobs so seriously, though.  I think my students are more aware than any previous generation that jobs will be hard to come by as more and more employment is automated.  In an effort to distinguish themselves, they perform their duties with a maturity that is admirable.  Because of that, I take my responsibility to perceive their intentions correctly very seriously. 

    I’d like to challenge you today not to just assume that everyone thinks and acts as you do, and that those who do not are somehow subordinate to you.  With just a little bit of inquiry, you might find that what you perceived to be thoughtless actually might be very carefully thought-out.

-          Michelle