Speaker and Sessions


Some people have referred to Generation Z (which includes the school-age population from 3rd grade through college) as “Generation C”, (Generation Covid) due to all the adverse effects of COVID-19 on their brains, mental health, and learning. Gen Z was already unlike any previous generations having grown up in an age of smartphones and social media, lack of sleep, constant distractions, diversity, school violence, etc. But surveys show they were significantly impacted by the pandemic. A 2020 survey found that compared to past generations, they are now the most distressed (60% reporting high levels of stress, depression, and mental health issues, and 81% saying they were negatively impacted as a result of the pandemic); the most disengaged (52% have less motivation to do schoolwork); the most distracted (45% have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork); and the most learning delayed (47% feel they are not learning as much as before the pandemic). But research also shows there is a way to improve their mental health, motivation, and engagement by teaching their strengths. Studies have found that unlike previous generations, they learn differently and can be empowered and motivated by self and peer-directed active, interactive, in-person, and hands-on learning that promotes voice, passion, purpose, and agency.

This conference will merge brain research, generational studies, social science, and insights from “Gen Z” stories to help you better understand them, reach them, and teach them. Discover how they have been changed by COVID and how they learn, pay attention, engage, and are empowered differently from previous generations. Explore science-based strategies to reduce stress and mental health issues and increase wellbeing; boost engagement and motivation in the classroom; develop better digital balance with their devices; reduce distractions and improve focus; ways to empower and motivate them through agency, passion, and purpose; and help them catch up from lost learning.

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This conference will be presented as a hybrid conference.  You can either attend in person in Boston or participate virtually.

Featured Speakers

The Distressed Generation: How the Pandemic and Social Media is Creating a Mental Health Crisis

Jean M. Twenge, PhD

Professor of Psychology, College of Science, San Diego State University; Researcher on teens and Generation Z; Author, iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy -- and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood (2017), The Narcissism Epidemic (2009) and Generation Me (2006); Co-Author, “Associations Between Adolescent Depression and Self-harm Behaviors and Screen Media Use in a Nationally Representative Time-diary Study” (2021, Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology)

The Disengaged Generation: Improving Student Engagement and Wellbeing in Schools

Andy P. Hargreaves, PhD

Thomas More Brennan Chair; Research Professor, Lynch School of Education, Boston College; Director of Change, Engagement and Innovation in Education, University of Ottawa; Former Professor of Educational Leadership and Change, The University of Nottingham; Educational Researcher currently working on a $2.7 million project funded by the LEGO Foundation to develop and conduct research into a national network of schools that serve high needs populations through play-based learning; Honored with the “Horace Mann” Award in the US, the “Robert Owen” Award in Scotland for services to public education, and the “Excellence in Teaching with Technology” Award from Boston College; Elected President of The International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement and Elected Member of the National Academy of Education; Co-Author, Wellbeing in Schools (2021), Five Paths to Student Engagement (2021), Teaching in the Knowledge Society (2016), Professional Capital (2013), and The Global Fourth Way (2012)

The Stolen Years: How COVID Changed Children’s Lives

Anya Kamenetz, BA

Journalist; Education Correspondent, NPR; Staff Writer, Fast Company, and Contributor to New York Times and Slate; Winner of the “Edward R. Murrow Award for Innovation”; Expert on education and technology with Millennials and Generation Z students; Author, The Stolen Years: How COVID Changed Children’s Lives, and Where to Go Now (2022), The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life (2018), The Test: Why Our Schools Are Obsessed with Standardized Testing–But You Don't Have to Be (2016), DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education (2010), and Generation Debt (2006)