Teacher Cooperation: Advocating for Students

Jeffrey Shoemaker
Walking down the halls of most schools you can see teachers working together, and helping students to get the most out of their education. Sometimes through teachers can be their own worst enemy. Let me explain.

Every veteran teacher knows their curriculum, and how to pace their lessons so that students can learn, review the material for mastery, and be tested. Each teacher wants their students to pass the Ohio Achievement Test (OAT) so that their school or district can continue to improve. To ensure that happens we work hard to make sure that we hit each indicator and strand so that nothing is a surprise when students take the OAT. That means we want every student in their seat the entire time for class so they get the needed material. But what happens when a gifted student is pulled out for their gifted services? At times, this is where pull-out programs and regular education are at odds.

Regular Education teachers don’t understand at times that we have so many minutes to see the students, and to service them in their area of giftedness. In my case, I only have students pulled out once a week for several hours. There are things in our classes that we try to do enhance their education. These students are smart, and deserve to be pulled out to be serviced appropriately.

As the date of the OAT comes closer, I try to discuss with the teachers who have my gifted students that they are not personal tutors to students who don’t get the material. They need to be challenged in class. They don’t need to have the extra pressure of being the “teacher” to other students. Some gifted students don’t like to tutor students because they don’t have the patience for it. I discuss with the regular education teachers that by having them tutor the students who don’t get the material may burn out the gifted student. I also try to remind them that these are the students who continually score high on these tests.

I have had discussions with other gifted intervention specialists (GIS) who do a pull out program similar to mine, and they have had similar discussions with the regular education teachers. Regular education teachers don’t understand that the gifted get pulled out because they are gifted. I think regular education teachers at times don’t see the benefit or believe in the district gifted program. It’s not like the special education classes where students with learning disabilities get pulled out to get the help they need to get a better grasp of the material they need to be successful. Regular education teachers don’t have a problem with these students getting pulled out. I think it needs to be communicated to regular education teachers that Special Education is a continuum that services both learning disabled students to gifted students.

How can gifted and regular education teachers work together to provide the best educational opportunities for our gifted students? I believe that teachers need to see the validity in gifted education. The GIS and regular education teachers need to communicate though lesson plans, team meetings, and continual conversations, about what they are doing, and how it can be connected to the State standards. The regular education teacher should take advantage of the resources a gifted intervention specialist can bring to the regular classroom, and likewise the intervention specialist needs to open up to be used as a resource. Finally, the GIS and the regular education teacher need to work as a team. It might be very useful for them to work collaboratively on multi-disciplinary units where gifted students would have a chance to work on the same material as the other students but have the chance to go deeper into the topic.

If we teachers, can get past ourselves and see that the education of all students is what is important, and make sure that all students who need to be serviced get the appropriate service they require then we all succeed.


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