What are you focused on for next year? I have been reading blogs and looking at tweet chats, and I have seen a little bit of a correlation of some things in Gifted Ed. that I want to talk about. Some of these include, focus on characteristics of gifted children, what does it mean to be gifted, and are gifted programs valuable. I know these are big topics and they are important, but I think we are loosing focus on what is really important which is teaching and devising a curriculum that will benefit the gifted students in the classrooms.
I know it is important to know the characteristics of gifted children. You have to know about the students you teach to make a difference. There are charts like this one that help you understand the difference between bright and gifted students. Its important to know that, but what I have found is that all students can benefit from Gifted Education instruction. I know that for identification purposes it is important to know who is gifted and who is not based on known characteristics.
What does it mean to be Gifted? and or Talented? There seems to a huge discussion about that, but that’s for another post. Most students will tell you they feel normal, they just get things faster. Depending on the severity of giftedness the differences in age and mental age can be a huge difference from them and their peers. They may feel like they don’t fit into society. I feel that teachers should show some empathy towards them when they feel that way. Those type of students need to have an outlet. They need to know there are others just like them with the same characteristics as them.
Giftedness is more than an I.Q. score; its more than just an attribute given to someone who is very intelligent. Its a way of life; a personal experience for those who are truly gifted. Every gifted child is different, and has their own personal preferences, strengths, and interests. By just labeling a child gifted and thinking they are all the same isn’t right.
What is also troubling to me is the fact that when money is tight for a school district this is one of the programs that gets cut. I am lucky that our District we haven’t done this, but in area schools this is happening. Gifted students are being left behind at huge rates because they are seen as being able to pass he State exams with out any real instruction. (I hope this assumption will pass at sometime with the Common Core being implemented. Gifted.) Gifted Students need just as much instruction as any child, it must be differentiated for their level.
That leads me into my last topic, which is about Gifted programs being valuable. I read a short article last week that I saw many people in Gifted Education circles discussing which was about Pull-out programs for Gifted students. As a Pull-out teacher for gifted students I believe that gifted programs are important for many of the reasons listed above about what is being talked about. Most importantly I feel that pull-out programs are important because they are smaller group where gifted children can be themselves without judgement from others. Pull out programs are more of the work at your own pace, and topic. They can be dens of learning and creativity as long as the teacher sets the correct climate for it. As for the article I linked above, I completely disagree with everything in it. If you haven’t read it, then I would suggest you do.
Now as I get to the point of this post, I know it seems like a lifetime ago since I really asked what are you focused on. For me this year I am focused on getting to know my students, their strengths, their abilities, and their interests. I want to know them. I believe that the more you know your students the better you can teach them. I am not concerned with their past experiences on tests, or projects they did in the past. I have to focus on getting my classroom set up with a climate that makes being creative, open, and learning possible for my students. I am writing curriculum that has depth, complexity, and student derived products. I am focused on their learning, and how I can get them educationally grow from the beginning to the end of the year, and ultimately become a lifelong learner.
So, What are you focused on?