The Multigenerational Workplace: Communicate, Collaborate, and Create Community
Publication Year: 2014
Bridge the generation gap and achieve outstanding results!
You might expect the occasional age-related misunderstanding to find its way into the classroom—after all, if today's kids aren't exactly from another planet, they're definitely from another generation. At least you and your colleagues are all on the same page…right? Not necessarily. In some schools, as many as four generations work side by side, and that means countless chances for crossed wires, miscommunication, and perhaps even mistrust.
Authors Jennifer Abrams and Valerie von Frank are attuned to these generational differences. In this book, based on Abrams' popular workshop, the authors demonstrate how educators can look past their own generational filters to reap the benefits of seeing through a new lens. Focusing on the major contexts in which generational differences ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Introduction: Lost in Translation
- Chapter 1: Defining the Generations
- Chapter 2: Working with Multiple Generations
- Chapter 3: School Savvy Etiquette
- Chapter 4: Communicate to Collaborate
- Chapter 5: Recruiting and Retaining the Generations
- Chapter 6: Differentiating Professional Learning for the Generations
- Chapter 7: Succession Planning
Praise for The Multigenerational Workplace: Communicate, Collaborate, and Create Community[Page i]
“Readers of The Multigenerational Workplace will be inspired to reflect and respond to the complexities of their workplace and motivate diverse generations for today and into the future. In addition, collaborative teams will find this book useful in enhancing their ability to communicate across generations.”
Clara Howitt, Superintendent of Education/Trustee
“A massive exodus of Baby Boomers combined with a huge influx of Millennials has created a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reinvent the teaching profession for today's world. To make this possibility a reality, we will have to abandon 20th-century human capital solutions that have become 21st-century problems. We will have to rethink the teaching career from recruitment through retirement. In The Multigenerational Workplace, Jennifer Abrams and Valerie von Frank give school leaders the data, strategies, and tools they need to successfully navigate this transition.”
Tom Carroll, President
National Commission on Teaching & America's Future, Washington, DC
“This book will quickly become an essential on every leader's bookshelf, offering a framework that is helpful to all of us who lead multigenerational organizations along with practical tools and activities to assist in planning and facilitation. Being on the cusp of Gen X and Gen Y and a leader of a team of teachers that includes Baby Boomers through Millennials, this book will be an essential resource for me.”
Zoe Duskin, Principal
Inspired Teaching Demonstration Public Charter School Washington, DC[Page ii]
Copyright © 2014 by Corwin
All rights reserved. When forms and sample documents are included, their use is authorized only by educators, local school sites, and/or noncommercial or nonprofit entities that have purchased the book. Except for that usage, no part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
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When I think of how my study of how to be generationally savvy began, it was conversation by conversation. The first was a problem-solving conversation with my superintendent, who was curious about ways to support the district as increasing numbers of administrators retired and replacements came in quickly. That first conversation led me to design an in-district administrator retreat. The feelings about the topic, both skeptical and curious, were anything but indifferent, and opinions were voiced. This topic had heat. Something was up.
As I crafted the “Being Generationally Savvy” workshop time and time again during the next few months, outside the district and then across the country, I added to my stockpile of stories people told me at coffee breaks and noted the questions people asked as they tried to apply the work in their contexts. I held focus groups after school for different generations to tell me their challenges collaborating with others at work. I brought in lunches for new teachers so they could tell me about their struggles and share what supports they needed. And then the e-mails would come. “Have you seen this article?” or “You have to hear this story from an interview I just did yesterday with this new teacher—such a generational moment!”
The set of questions grew. People pushed and pulled at the generational filter I was describing. How did being generationally savvy change for those in an urban setting? Did it matter as much in a rural setting? What about the filter of culture? Of gender? What about the developmental stages? Wasn't everyone going to change and become like a Traditionalist at age 65?
The work went deeper. Specific requests for assistance helped develop the topic even more.
- What about Millennial supervisors and administrators? What do we do for them since they are so much younger than those they will be leading and evaluating?
- What can we do to create a better succession plan, because we can see our district will have more retirements in the next 10 years?
- What can we do to recruit new employees so they think this is a great place to work? Do we need to change our orientation? What other changes do we need to make? [Page viii]
- What can we do to support veteran teachers as we increase expectations around technology and other new initiatives that change how people will work together? How will we support them in changes that are likely to be uncomfortable?
- How do we talk to 40-somethings who feel so different than Boomers? Do we need to change our policies for them and the Millennials?
- What about professional development? Should we do more online? What needs to be taught face-to-face?
And so this book was written. It compiles the discussions and the research, the e-mails and the articles, the focus groups and the coffee breaks. This book is the conversation. Join in.—
Much appreciation goes to the following people who sensed the need for discussion around this topic and who have supported me in ways they might never truly know. I am grateful.
To Mary Frances Callan, my former superintendent, Burton Cohen, my former director of secondary education, Becki Cohn-Vargas, my former director of elementary education, and others at Palo Alto Unified School District who offered me a space to talk about generational challenges and a forum in which to work with the material.
To those in other school boards and school districts and educational organizations who added to and pushed the work forward: Judy Levinsohn and her new-teacher mentors at Orange County Office of Education; Caroline Satoda and Debra Eslava-Burton and their colleagues at San Francisco Unified School District; Anna Moore and others at Monterey County Office of Education; Sharon Ofek and her new teachers at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School; Michael Zeldin, Chaim Heller, and others in the DeLeT Program community; the Association of California School Administrators; the Independent Schools Association of the Central States; the California Association of Independent Schools; the Virginia Association of Independent Schools; the Illinois Principals Association; and those at Learning Forward conferences who encouraged me, participated in the workshops, and shaped my thinking.
To my colleagues outside the United States with whom I have worked and who found the ideas “right on” and worthy of consideration: Scott Moreash, Luciana Cardarelli, Suzanne Molitor, Hilda Pierorazio, and others in Peel District School Board (DSB) in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada; Clara Howitt and others at Greater Essex County DSB in Windsor, Ontario, Canada; members of Tri-Association: The Association of American Schools of Central America, Colombia, Caribbean and Mexico; and members of the East Asia Regional Council of Schools. This work has deepened and broadened thanks to your perspectives.
To my “behind the scenes” supporters, friends, and family who were my cheerleaders and brought me generational perspectives of all ages: my father, Richard Abrams; my late mother, Myrna Abrams; my Gen-Xer brother and sister-in-law, Adam and Shelley Abrams; and my “not yet to be generationally named” nephews, [Page x]Joe and Evan. To my friends of all generations, John Hebert, John Fredrich, Jen Wakefield, Greg Matza, Ann Idzik, Sean O'Maonaigh, Pam Lund, Collene Bliss, Katy Bimpson, and Mary Sano, who generously listened, dinner after dinner, walk after walk, as I crafted the workshop, and ultimately the book, and who offered much needed perspective. To the Kimpton Hotels where Valerie and I wrote parts of this book and spent many a fabulous evening, and to our kind and supportive editor, Dan Alpert. It was Dan who introduced me to my coauthor, Valerie, my Joneser colleague, who through her agile and sharp writing skills made this book so much more engaging and thoughtful.—Jennifer Abrams
I feel a deep gratitude to the many, many great teachers who taught me not only their subjects but also to love learning. Many of them may not be with us anymore, but their names stay with me as inspirations and people whose guiding hands at key times in my life shaped me: Sr. Mary Agnes, Mrs. Dohn, and Mrs. Sunseri at Ursuline Academy in Bethesda, Maryland; Mrs. Crayhan at Barnsley Elementary in Rockville, Maryland; Mrs. Mills and Mrs. Goodman at Wood Junior High in Rockville, Maryland; Maryanne Williams and Dianne Emanuel at Wilson High School in Florence, South Carolina; and so many others.
The National Staff Development Council (NSDC) contributed so much to my professional learning during nearly a decade as editor of the JSD and through numerous conferences that helped deepen my understanding of the field, and I am thankful for the opportunities I had to learn with NSDC, now Learning Forward. Thank you to Dennis Sparks and Joan Richardson, who were going to hire someone from Ohio and instead allowed me to join the NSDC family in 2000, and to Stephanie Hirsh and Joellen Killion, who have continued my learning.
I feel a deep appreciation to my family, particularly Hannah and Grace, who watched unflinchingly as I inched my way through this work.
Finally, I am everlastingly grateful to Dan Alpert, whose unfailing understanding and faith in this book allowed it to happen, and to Jennifer for inviting me in so willingly to be a part of it.—Valerie A. von Frank
About the Authors
Normally in the course of professional learning, the culminating activity is some amalgam or interpretation of a “Here's What, So What, Now What” exercise. In the final session, everyone has a chance to summarize key ideas learned and why those insights are important in a professional context. Then each participant lists a few “Now What?” next steps. What will I do or say differently than I might have before the professional development began? What changes will I make to my practice?
This book is the “Here's What.” This is what we know about the generations and how generational similarities and differences make the workplace more interesting—and more challenging.
You likely picked up this book with some ideas in the back of your mind that are the “So What” of generational savvy. You probably were aware of some differences in your workplace or elsewhere that led you to question what was happening. We hope through the examples we shared, the facts and information we provided, and the discussions you generated by working through the activities you selected in each chapter, that your “So What?” awareness has grown. What you read and what you might have learned in discussions with your colleagues we hope helped you develop your generational filter of perception to see how generational differences affect your work.
Now we come to “Now What?” What specifically will you change in your practice?
- How will you communicate in a way that better supports how you interact with a different generation?
- Will you change your website in ways that meet the needs of the generation you are recruiting?
- Will you start planning professional learning with a more nuanced generational lens?
- Are you prepared to look at your legacy to thoughtfully plan how best to prepare those who will take your position?
As we said in the introduction and throughout the book, the generational filter is only one filter through which to see ourselves and our work. Working effectively together also requires taking into account colleagues' cultures, racial, and ethnic affiliations; countries of origin; genders; religious identifications; and other filters through which we view the world. This book asks that you add the generational lens.
[Page 130]So what will you do next with your increased awareness and understanding of the generations? What will you do differently as a teacher and a colleague? As a principal? As a system or district administrator? What will move you and your work forward to act with greater understanding and effectiveness? The answer lies in the generational savvy you acquired in the process of working through this material, additional readings you may have sought out, and the generational dexterity that you now apply.
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CORWIN: A SAGE Company[Page 147]
The Corwin logo—a raven striding across an open book—represents the union of courage and learning. Corwin is committed to improving education for all learners by publishing books and other professional development resources for those serving the field of PreK-12 education. By providing practical, hands-on materials, Corwin continues to carry out the promise of its motto: “Helping Educators Do Their Work Better.”