Speaking the Love Language of Generation Z
A discussion with Marlena Gross-Taylor, founder of EduGladiators
Part one in a two-part series
Marlena Gross-Taylor, an educator, author and speaker who founded EduGladiators, LLC, will be presenting at the 2020 Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) this month in Miami.
It could be said that education is in Marlena's blood. It's what she feels called to do. She comes from a long line of educators, including a mother who is a retired middle school principal and many other relatives in the profession.
But education didn't start as a positive experience for Marlena and initially, she had no interest in pursuing a teaching career. She explains, "My experience in school was not necessarily aligned to what my expectations were. I didn't like school. I was good at school; I was playing at school. But I didn't love school. I told my mom―and she laughs at me to this day, considering all that I've done―'I will never be a teacher, much less a principal, especially a middle school principal,' because it was not a great experience and it should have been."
Although Marlena did not love her experience as a student, she felt an inclination to help her peers avoid her negative experience. "While I did not love the experience of school, on the flip side, as a student, I was always volunteering to be the peer tutor because I wanted other kids my age to love learning. It's an interesting dichotomy. I feel like I have this calling to transform the experience of school and learning for students, but it starts with making sure our teachers have all the tools that they need."
As the founder of EduGladiators, Marlena looks to empower teachers and leaders to ground their instructional decisions in what works best for students. It all started with her changing practices to be a blend of what kids were interested in. She mixed in research on what students were wanting to see and expecting from their learning experience.
When Marlena is evaluating a classroom, she analyzes the physical layout and determines how a teacher is leading learning. "I want to see where the students have the priority in a classroom, where space is maximized for students and not necessarily for adult comfort. I look at the space. I look at the arrangement. I look at the seating.”.
In terms of making advancements in the classroom, Marlena tries to answer the question: "Where is the technology?" If a modern educator is not incorporating technology in a meaningful way, they are missing the mark, They are not, as she so smoothly explains, "Speaking the love language of Generation Z."
About Marlena Gross-Taylor
Marlena Gross-Taylor is the founder of EduGladiators and a nationally recognized EdLeader with a proven track record of improving educational and operational performance through vision, strategic planning, leadership, and team building. A Nashville transplant originally from southern Louisiana, Marlena’s educational experience spans several states allowing her to have served K-12 students in both rural and urban districts.
She has been recognized as a middle school master teacher and innovative administrator at the elementary, middle, high school and district levels. Because of her sound knowledge of both elementary and secondary education, Marlena has broad-based experience creating and implementing dynamic interactive programs to transform the student learning experience.
As a proud Louisiana State University alumni, she is committed to excellence and believes all students can achieve.
Marlena Gross-Taylor's FETC Sessions:
- C336 | Creating Conditions for Success & Learning
- C254 | How to Brand Schools Like a Start-Up
- C392 | Engaging Gen Z
- C160 | Leading in the Digital Revolution
- MEET05 | Meet the Author
The 40th anniversary Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) will take place January 14-17, 2020 in Miami, Fla. Registration is now open at Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC)