Tag: gifted and talented

Somewhere in our educational history the message came down that teaching the child with a “gifted” label was easy. It’s not. Teachers have to be fully prepared to move quickly through material, be more flexible, understand and carefully use sarcastic humor, respond to boundary pushing, answer constant questions, allow for discussion of moral injustices, manage outbursts and intensities, establish expectations that match the skills and abilities of the learner and be sensitive to physical and emotional issues such as ADHD, underachieving, Bipolar, dyslexia, learning English, and a myriad of others to numerous to mention. Yes, gifted kids are not all high achieving perfect students!

Because of the age-old message that teaching gifted children is easy, administrators and teachers assume that those labeled as “gifted” can excel when other students who are “labeled” low-students are placed in the same classroom (as the phrase goes) “to spread the wealth”. While there should diversity in a class of students, excessive spreads of skill and ability doesn’t make sense for several reasons and is not research based.

Although teachers are masters of differentiation, in the real world they struggle with meeting the needs of every student and the requirements of paperwork, meetings, email and other demands on their time. Students know who struggles with concepts and who gets it the first time. “Gifted” or high achieving students might brag or tease their classmates. They are likely to adopt behavior problems to deal with their boredom if the teacher spends his/her time addressing the needs of the other students. “Gifted” students may feel undue empathy towards their peers and stress over the injustices. Anyone who has looked into brain-based learning knows that any kind of stress on the child takes precedence over the learning functions in the brain. In other words, good, solid learning doesn’t occur when the brain is stressed.

Low students recognize that they don’t know the answer as quickly as their classmate. Their self-esteem plummets. Parents become concerned. They make more phone calls, send more emails, and ask for more conferences which is taxing on the teacher. Additionally, if the parent doesn’t find satisfaction with the way a teacher is dealing with these issues, they move on to administration. We can easily relate the affect of stress on learning with the affect of stress on teaching by asking the question: how does stress affect teaching?

As research reveals more about the best situations that children learn in, educators and administrators need to change perceptions on what creates successful learning in the actual classroom. Part of the job of Gifted researchers and teachers is to explain the results of educational research to administrators, teachers and parents. This includes different ways to look at things and new terminology.

When a message has been hammered in and repeated millions of times over the course of decades, whether or not that message is actually true becomes irrelevant — and the people invested in presenting that message, whether for monetary gain or not, are especially resistant to any evidence that might be contrary. ~K Wartman/Huffington Post

Gifted education has amassed loads of research and more research on the diversity of learners and their performance in the classroom, which we have done a fantastic job of explaining to other gifted advocates. We need to get the message out to those who make the decisions: the administrators and school boards. Our students, whether they are low or high, need to have their academic and social/emotional needs met. We won’t do this by appeasing anybody. We don’t do this to avoid griping by other teachers. We do this by using research based results, creating our action research projects to verify our results in our population and imparting that information to leaders who make decisions. Change needs to be responsive to the needs of our students, not static and age-old.

Education Gifted Education

Francoys Gagne's Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent - NSWAGTC

This is a differentiated model designed by Francoyne Gagne in 1991 that I found at caught my interested this morning. Personally, I’ve always had an issue with the terms: gifted and talented or GT so I like this model. I’ve always thought that gifted and talented referred to two entirely different things that must be approached differently in the classroom (or outside the classroom). To help explain this further, I suggest that an educator think of their student just like a coach thinks of the players on their team. A coach knows exactly which of their players has the natural ability to run faster or the potential to think ‘fast on their feet’. These coaches are already thinking about how best to grow those natural abilities into talents to gain the winning edge. Once the coach has identified those ‘gifts’ in his/her players, they will start specific training. Why waste money on training a natural born runner to be a goalie? The coach does this while keeping in mind that all his/her players need to know the game.

Every teacher in every school can tell you the strengths and weaknesses of their students. They know that Johnny struggles with comprehension and Suzy can retell a story including every detail. Yet, day after day and year after year, teachers make every child complete every assignment. Sure, it makes planning and recording grades easier. It ensures that every child has been exposed to every thing they need to understand the game but it stops there. If a teacher hears the complaint from a parent about how Suzy is bored. Guess why? They haven’t provided specific training to Suzy to develop her natural ability into a talent.

The last several years the term differentiation has been discussed and researched in education. And for good reason. Differentiating instruction and providing different methods to assess learning is how every teacher/coach can take those natural abilities that a student already possesses and make them into talents. Teachers MUST take advantage of every situation available to learn how to differentiate their classroom. Schools MUST look to provide the time, training and tools so teachers can do this.

Our team (USA and the world) deserves no less.

Gifted Education

The Department of Education in the Philippines celebrates the 2008 National Observance of the week for the gifted and talented.

A clip from their website:

1. Every fourth week of November, the nation observes National Week for the Gifted and Talented, an event declared through Presidential Proclamation No. 199 signed on Oct 19, 1999. This year’s celebration will be observed on November 24-28 2008 with the theme “Building Gifts into Talents”.

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If the United States can’t make it official this year, we can still celebrate. There is always exciting things happening in our GT classrooms! What are you doing?

Happy National Observance week all gifted and talented!

Gifted Education