James L. Smith, a Generation www.Y program support specialist, describes the benefits of the program for preservice teachers.
1. Is the Generation www.Y program successful?
I'm always impressed when we stop and talk to someone about the Generation www.Y program and how, when we take a preservice teacher into an elementary classroom and have a student show that teacher -- who may be in their early twenties or transitioning into a second career in their early forties -- what they need to know when they get into the classroom. They look at us and they say how they appreciate working with these students and watching a kid do a PowerPoint presentation or go online and take them to a site they'd never heard of before, but which contains information that they'll be able to use to improve their teaching.
2. How does the Generation www.Y program address digital divide issues?
Having students that cross all social and economic lines working with preservice teachers and giving them the information they need to improve their teaching will help those students, because not every preservice teacher is going to go into a school with the technology already in place. Some are going to go into inner-city locations. Some are going to go into rural locations where there aren't many resources available, but the skills and the techniques that they learn from the students they work with in the Gen www.Y program will transfer crossculturally, across economic lines, across social lines, and they'll be able to use those skills that they've learned to really improve their teaching and help the kids.
And of course, it really makes you feel good about what you're doing when you go into a room and see that spark light up in a child's eye. That's what the preservice teachers get by working with children in the classroom.