Feature

X, Y, BOOM! Generations at Work

Barbara Richter

Like cultural and racial diversity, generational differences bring unique and valuable strengths and  perspectives to  the  workplace and  to  the federation. By understanding, appreciating and building on it, we can enhance the potential of all to  contribute to the profession and the federation.

Bridging the generational divide

  • Don’t judge the actions or statements of others through your own generational lens. Don’t make assumptions; ask for a discussion.
  • Resolve that for one week you will not start any sentence with the phrase “If you had been there in …”
  • Ask seasoned staff members about their experiences in their early years of teaching.
  • Seek out a colleague from another generation and discuss an issue facing education.
  • Offer to help a younger colleague set up an activity for students. Ask an older colleague for suggestions.
  • Cultural icons are  never universal; they belong to a specific time and place. Don’t assume your colleagues will recognize generational markers like Howdy Doody, Polkaroo, or Barney the Dinosaur.
  • Suggest a staff discussion about generational differences.

Sources:

Adams, Michael.  Better Happy than Rich? Toronto: Penguin, 2000.

Foot, David K., and D. Stoffman.  Boom, Bust, Echo.

Toronto: Stoddart, 2001.  www.footwork.com (David Foot’s website). Lancaster, Lynne C., and David Stillman.  When

Generations Collide. New York: HarperCollins, 2002. Zemke, Ron, Claire Raines, and Bob Filipczak.

Generations at Work. New York: Amacon, 2000.