Come on Teachers, be Flexible

This morning I was going through my email, and saw someone put a question up on a list-serv that I follow for Gifted Education. The email was sent it looks like out of frustration. The email, from a mother, goes on to describe that her son is in a pull-out gifted program once a week, and that her son is falling behind in his classroom work due to him being pulled out. I was glad to see several Gifted Education advocates stand up to help give her advice.

One response to the mother in particular stood out to me. This reponse was from a coordinator for a school that had some issues with teachers in  1990’s that would punish gifted students for being serviced in a pull out program. One sentence hit me hard, becuase of what I feel has and is currently taking place in my District with me:

There appeared to be resentment by regular classroom teachers with the gifted students being bussed elsewhere for a one day a week pullout. 

(The wordle above is the definition of resentment)

As many of you know, I was a Regular Education teacher before I was a Gifted Intervention Specialist. My district has had a pull out program for over 30 years. As  Regular Education teacher I saw no difference in gifted children being serviced and my students who had learning disabilities being serviced. What I think brings on this resentment by Regular Education teachers is two fold: Unknown services and the inability to be flexible.

When gifted students leave the classroom they get on the bus and head to a different school  where the Regular Education teacher doesn’t know what is going on, or how it relates to services. They may only have the idea or assumption that students do some “playing” with the Gifted Intervention Specialist; or they only do the fun stuff that can’t be related to state curriculum. Regular Education teachers don’t understand what we do with our students because I think at times, when it is a pull out program we have so many students from different buildings who work with many teachers we don’t make those connections to the Regular Education teachers. So with out those connections they see no real value in the pull out program.

What I also believe creates that resentment is the fact that core teachers have to give students the state exam and they want them to do their best. Several teachers rely on their top students to perform well to help their scores. So, when their best students leave the classroom to “play” and not do school work fuels the resentment.

The release of that resentment is to hammer these students with extra work or the work they missed while they were in a pull out program. Which is why I was proud when our school board passed a motion  that any gifted student in a pull out program isn’t responsible for the work missed. There are some exceptions, like exams and labs, that teachers must set up and have students do the following day.

Which leads to my second reason for the resentment of Regular Education teachers toward pull out programs is their inability to be flexible. One thing that I have noticed is some teachers don’t want to be flexible when it comes to students in pull out programs because they don’t see the real value in the . program. Some feel they shouldn’t have to redo a lab for just a few students because they chose not be in class. Be flexible. If you know you have students who will be out that day either plan the lab on a different day or set it up twice. If you feel the student missed work that you feel is important then sit down with the students and share it. Don’t give them every assignment to do just because every other student did it.

Teachers, no matter if your Special, Gifted, or regular Education teachers, we are here for the children. If that means we need to give extra time to students who need it, or we give a lesson extension to a gifted student, then that’s what we need to do.  If you have students in the gifted program then contact the gifted education teacher and ask what they do. Use them as a resource for children and not a reason for resentment.


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