Jennifer Abrams -Consultancy that informs, inspires, and empowers VOICE
Voice Lessons August 2008

Hello! As July ends, my focus turns toward new teacher training.� Many, but not all, of our new teachers are Millennials by generation, born between 1980 and 2000.� These ‘young whippersnappers' (as I used to be called as well!) will come into our schools with incredible technological savvy, global awareness, amazing enthusiasm and the need for some clarity around expectations for the work they will be doing with their students and with us. This month's newsletter will touch upon a few reminders for all of us to be mindful of as the 'newbies' arrive.

If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to email me at [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you!

Don’t Patronize, Chillax and Be Very Clear

I have spent the last few years studying the four generations working in our schools.� The four generations include the Veterans (born between1922-1945), the Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964), the Gen Xers (born between 1964-1980), and the Millennials (born between 1980-2000).� Our varied values, and expectations about what work is and can be have been the source of much humor, and much tension, for those of us on teams, within departments, or in any type of professional learning community.� As we move into August and our newer staff members join us on those teams, here are three quick but important reminders for working effectively with new kids on the block, the Millennials.

Don't Patronize

I don't know where you were at 25 but I was teaching English in Room L-7 at Henry Gunn High School in Palo Alto, CA.� I had been teaching there for three years and continued to stay and work at that school (and in that very room!) for another five.� My understanding was that I needed to 'pay my dues' and stay in the classroom in order to gain credibility as a teacher.� New teachers by the time they are 25 may not be thinking the same way many of us did, and it isn't necessarily all wrong.� As one of my colleagues commented to me, "I am 29 but I have lived a lot of lives."� And she had...received a master's degree, taught abroad, run a summer program, and was now finished with an administrative credential and moving up to a principalship.� She had done much more in her seven years in the profession than I had by that time, and she didn't want to be patronized.� Don't presume age, or lack thereof, means a lack of experiences.� Given the support and opportunities that many of our newer fellow educators have had, it simply isn't true.


My twenty-something friend reminds me that many of us 30 plus in age need to 'chill-ax' – a combination of chill out and relax.� There is a sense of informality with the Millennials that can be quite refreshing when we get a chance to stop worrying and just enjoy life.� Millennials are not suggesting that they aren't willing to do the work required to help students achieve, nor are they implying that they won't put in the hours to get something done (although you might not see them at work making it happen – they may do the work later at night off campus).� But they are suggesting to me that all the huffing and puffing, and the formality and the pomp might be a bit too much.� And in many situations being a little more casual can be just fine...and in many situations it might not.� Which leads me to the next reminder...

Be Clear

As I work with new teachers on the specifics around School Savvy Etiquette (email me if you want to see the list), all I know is that whatever we expect in terms of dress, email communication, working with parents or staff, or boundaries with students, we MUST be clear.� If you expect that a teacher email a parent back within 48 hours, tell them that is the norm.� If you have a tacit expectation to get to work at a certain hour or to dress in a certain manner, don’t presume that the new teacher will 'read between the lines' – just tell them what is expected directly.� If they shouldn't use their cell phones during class, tell them.� If they shouldn't call the head of school 'Dude', tell them.�� And actually, for all generations to be 'two feet in the present', everyone should review the school's norms and procedures for how things could and should be done.� It will help all generations to work together more effectively.�

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Cool Resources

On the topic of generational savvy...check out.

  • The Commission for Teaching and America’s Future has published Building a 21st Century U.S. Education System, a book that presents a diverse set of strategies and solutions to provide every child with high quality education, and one of those strategies articulates how to create professional learning communities cross-generationally.� You can download individual chapters (check out Chapters 4-5) or the whole book under “Research and Reports” at

  • And speaking of generations, check out the website for Encore: Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life at� Encore provides resources for individuals and organizations establishing "encore careers" that combine social contribution, personal meaning and financial security.� Interesting information for those interested in going into education as a second career!

  • And just for fun, go to - click into ‘60 Minutes’ and look for the video, “The Millennials Are Coming.”� It is a 12-minute inside view on what the twenty somethings think of work and how we ‘older’ folks need to work with them.� Fun and insightful.

Upcoming Events

Each month I will share with you information about a few of my upcoming trainings.
If I am going to be in your area, contact me so we can say hello, hopefully in person!

August 1
Building Trust and Promoting Collaboration
Association of California School Administrators
Region 8 Leadership Conference
San Jose, CA

August 4-5
Curriculum Community of Practice Event

New Schools Venture Fund Conference
Stanford, CA

August 25
The Heart of Work: Beyond the Job Description

Opening Day Keynote Address
Santa Cruz County Office of Education
Santa Cruz, CA

For additional upcoming events, please visit my Web site.

Until next time,


Feel free to forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues. You may reprint this newsletter in whole or quote with attribution to Jennifer Abrams and a link to

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© 2008 Jennifer Abrams | Email Jennifer | 4290 Wilkie Way #L, Palo Alto, CA 94306 |  (650) 858-0699


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