10 Things you need to Know About Gifted Kids: Underachievement is Possible (Part 8)

Here is a statement I often receive from classroom teachers, “He is failing my class! How is he gifted?” I often tell them that he is just suffering from under achievement. What is under achievement? Basically is it when a gifted learner isn’t meeting their academic potential.

When I talk to teachers in my district who are concerned about gifted children as I am, we worry about under achievement in gifted and average learning students. I feel that under achievement is a product of these factors:

  • Teacher preparedness
  • Student motivation
  • Classroom Climate

Teacher Preparedness

When we have a classroom that is full of students of various academic skill levels you have to be prepared for students to finish at different times. I have mentioned the book Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom by Susan Winebrenner as a great resource for students who need to be challenged a little more. I tell teachers this little fact: gifted education is good education. Whatever can work in my classroom with gifted learners it will work with average learners. We just need to be prepared to meet the needs of all students. Just because a student is gifted doesn’t mean he or she needs extra work. They need challenging work. That’s where you need to be prepared. Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom has so many ideas that you can use to be adapted in different ways to give some variety to gifted and average learners to battle under achievement.

Student Motivation

One of the jobs a teacher has is cheerleader. We know that children learn differently and in different ways. We need to find what that is. Gifted learners can be some of the most fickle people. At one moment that have it, the next they are falling apart. We need to motivate students. We also need to teach students what motivation is and how to motivate themselves. If teachers can make the topic as interesting as possible, then they will be motivated to work harder. Also, teachers need to make the goals clear. Some students are motivated by goals. If so, use it. This kind of thinking goes back to teacher preparedness with meaningful lessons and a knowing of your students strengths and weaknesses. Remember every child is motivated differently. Find what it is, and use it that will help your students fight under achievement. 

Classroom Climate

One of the things that I think makes or breaks a classroom is climate. I always start out my year with some expectations, and I set the mood of the classroom. One thing that I constantly work on is the climate. I have expectations for my students, their behavior, the products to turn in, and working with each other. I try to make these are clear as possible and easy to understand. When the climate for the room is to strive for success, students will follow it. Teachers have to get students to buy into it. You do that by being authentic. Teachers have to show they are serious about their success on the project they are working on and the ones they will work on it future in your class and in others. My wife, Tina, is so good at this. My wife teaches Early Childhood Education (ECE) to junior and senior high school students. She gets them to buy into the fact they are a family and they represent not only their school, but their profession as ECE students and future teachers, their program, their teacher, their classmates, and themselves and family. Once they have mindset, her students change and really have a love of what they are doing in school and in the community. My wife has over 80% of her seniors every year go into college to receive degrees in ECE. That’s how under achievement is  fought.

I know there are other conditions that may lead to a student to suffer from under achievement. There are a wide variety of tests that can be taken and analyzed. Gifted children are complicated. I feel that when we talk to educators, advocates, and parents who have a love for gifted children we will can and share what we see, what we hear, and what we know and collaborate with each other gifted children will be better off.





4 thoughts on “10 Things you need to Know About Gifted Kids: Underachievement is Possible (Part 8)

  1. C

    Thank you for this post! Our son’s kindergarten teacher had her hands full, so our son was “doing OK.” In fact, he was bored to death and played games like seeing how long he could take to do his work before he got into trouble. When we explained that he was capable of so much more, she said, “I can only grade what I see.” It has taken a few years to get him back on track to where he is excited about learning at school with a teacher (he taught himself plenty at home with library books, etc.).

    1. Jeffrey Shoemaker Post author

      I want to thank you for reading my post. I am glad to see that your son has turned around. Some don’t. I hope that his year has turned out well, and he is excited to learn and have fun learning with his teacher.

  2. C

    His year has been great. But it took two years of some pretty terrific and *prepared* teachers to bring him this far. We keep praying he continues to have teachers who know they can push him instead of leaving him alone because he doesn’t cause trouble. Thanks again for your blog!!

  3. Pingback: 10 Things you Need to Know About Gifted Kids « Ramblings of a Gifted Teacher

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