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Learning from our youth - A positive experience

Reverse mentoring is where the younger generation mentors the older generation. In the area of technology this can be invaluable for those who were born before the 1982. Millennials are born after 1982 and they have grown up with technology. They are digital natives who have grown up with internet service and technology in their daily lives. They tend to be multi-taskers, who are tech savvy and competent.  Knowing that the younger generation possess valuable skills and information, and many resources relating to technology, they are an irreplaceable resource for those who are not tech savvy. As digital natives mentor to the older generation, they gain confidence and begin realizing that teachers and administrators are not infallible.  They begin to understand that teachers and administrators are real people who need to continue learning, developing and practicing new tech skills.  In speaking with other teacher and administrators about their feelings toward reverse mentoring, I discovered that they agree that we as teachers and leaders can and must learn from our students. There is much we can learn from them.  We, as teachers and administrators, need to improve our tech skills.  We can benefit from learning from the tech savvy young while we grow and work alongside them.  I have a real life example of learning from the young.  After purchasing two iPads for my classroom, a piece of new technology I knew nothing about, my students took them and had them up and running with apps downloaded in a matter of minutes.  They left me messages on my message board with an alarm that reminded to check it after they were gone home for the day.  They have shown me how to hide programs that my AEMT and aspiring doctor son had downloaded that I did not want them to have access to because of graphic material.  They also have told me the difference between iPads, iPods, iPhones, Androids, and Kindles and their capabilities.  Although we are all in accordance that we can learn much from our youthful and tech savvy students, sometimes we are reluctant to embrace and use technology we do not understand.  I believe that we should sometimes take a risk and think outside of the box when it comes to accessing and using technology in the classroom.  In a fast changing and global collaborating world, teachers and administrators must learn quickly and we can do this only by going to the experts-digit natives. Digital natives who embrace new technologies, challenges, and change.  Digital natives who have already experienced cultural and social issues from around the world through social networks such as FaceBook and MySpace.  Digital natives have friends from all over the world through these social networks. Digital natives can clue us in on digital etiquette and social behaviors for global online communities as they have grown up collaborating with global friends.  I know my niece told me a couple of years ago not to capitalize all my letters when texting her a message even if I was excited about what I was sending.  When I questioned why, she said “because you are yelling at me Aunt Lawra.” From the mouth of a third grade child, I learned netiquette. For those who are older, we need these digital natives to help us become competent in a fast paced digital environment. They are after all the experts who possess knowledge and creativity as well as open minds to change. These worldly, experienced, and young digital natives can help to empower the older generation and I find that they enjoy do so.  By teaching others, we learn ourselves.

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Comment by Danje' Morris on February 19, 2013 at 1:57pm

Even though I'm savvy with technology, I still find myself asking students for help!  I have an Android tablet at home, but working with iPads with the students at Kilby, I have trouble working them!  (It's something about Apple products that doesn't work for me! :-/)  The students would borrow the iPad and work it like a pro!  In the end, I let them go and work fascinated!  It's great that they know how to work technology and that they're willing to teach those who aren't as savvy!

Comment by Lori Thomas on February 17, 2013 at 3:03pm

I teach 1st grade and have three teenage children of my own.  It amazes me how much my 1st graders know about Facebook, twitter, and other online chat groups.  My children have been able to help me tremendously with computer/technical projects since I started my masters degree.


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