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This article explores prevalent stories about “Gen Z” students that unintentionally undercut both their success and learner-centered pedagogies. The authors consider how those beliefs might be reframed to serve all learners more effectively. We also explore how the racial reckoning, health pandemics, social unrest, and additional compounded traumatic events of 2020 complicated stereotypes about college-aged youth and magnified the ever-present need for more inclusive, flexible, and compassionate teaching approaches. We now have an opportunity to build on the lessons of 2020 and expand the lenses through with we consider our students’ visible behaviors and invisible experiences. We offer a rationale for and concrete pathways toward crafting more empathetic and productive stories about Gen Z students, which in turn allow us to develop teaching and assessment strategies that better align with our student-centered missions.
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