Number Four on the list of Top Ten Things is the topic of my next entry. It reads:
Asking regular education teachers to differentiate for the gifted sounds great, but if teachers do not know just how high those “high” kids can get, then the gifted never get needs met. In-service does not always show teachers just how much these children can really do.
Regular education teachers are very aware of the gifted child in their classroom and that’s about it. Every teacher struggles with meeting the wide range of social, emotional and academic needs of every child in their classroom. They can scale back the lesson for the lower learner and pile on more work to the high achiever but with the gifted learner, teachers can be clueless. For instance, what may look like a unproductive child on the outside may be a highly intelligent child on the inside. High achieving children may be just that – high achieving but are they gifted thinkers? I’ve learned that some behaviors in a gifted child is simply a coping mechanism or their way of handling boredom. Giving away the right to be in a gifted classroom to the best behaved child is just plain misguided. That little boy who can’t sit still but can make thoughtful connections and announces them impulsively is the same young man who drops out of school around his sophomore year.
How can a teacher better met the needs of their gifted learner without taking away from the others? When you assign a writing, allow the gifted learner to take it as far as they wish. I have approached more than one writing assignment this way. After buffeting several, “so how many pages does this need to be” type questions, students exploded. Some turned in one or two pages, others took the opportunity to write stories of great lengths! I encouraged students to come to me with a proposal for a project or topic for further study, then I made sure there was somewhere that they could present or publish their work.
Find out all you can about how different and unique gifted children are. Ask them what they would like to do. Play with their sophisticated sense of humor, appreciate their gifts then let them soar!