A new challenge is on the horizon. The digital natives are growing up and crossing over to the teaching profession—and their way of handling issues is very different from ours.
This is a new complication for our industrial era schools, the ones some of us enjoy and are comfortable with just as is. We find ourselves living on the edge, being pushed to engage students in new ways, possibly having to leave behind our old, tried and true methods.
What will become of us? Can computers, social networking, and video games take the place of teachers? Do cell phones, podcasts, or video games have educational purposes? Is it possible that a blend of our institutional wisdom and the knowledge and enthusiasm of the new recruits might be the ultimate synergy?
We’re starting to find answers to some of those questions at Morrilton Junior High School in the South Conway County (Arkansas) School District where the digital natives among our new teachers have made us rethink what is possible. No longer is a rainy winter time for students to meet the physical activity requirements by walking around the gym. We have Wii tournaments! No longer does a letter in the mail suffice for communicating with parents and the community. We stream video messages from the Web. No connectivity at home? No problem. The same videos loop on monitors in the office at high traffic times.
There seems to be no question these new teachers cannot answer. Indeed, the quiet, steady beat of the digital natives’ drums are a constant reminder that we must look for new ways to engage our students. No longer is it “traditional tribal customs” but “digital native innovations.”