Sometimes to know what something is, you have to know what it isn’t. So I thought I would highlight a few aspects of what Gifted Education isn’t.
Gifted Education isn’t a place where we goof off. I have a pull out program, and even though I know we have fun the curriculum that I choose to cover I inject some complexity and stretch. Even though I cover the same standards as all the other teachers. Since I have students who learn at an accelerated fashion, I have to challenge them and sometimes that comes in unconventional ways and projects.
Gifted Education isn’t a country club. Some teachers and parents sometimes think because you are in a Gifted Program that you are superior. That isn’t true. It’s a program to service students who are on the extreme side of Special Education. Gifted students are a special category of students who need a challenging curriculum not chastising look or feeling toward them because they are smart.
Gifted Education isn’t part of a teachers training. One aspect of all of my training though college that I didn’t receive was training in teaching Gifted students. It is tough to come into a classroom with 25 students who all have different abilities and have to teach them. I have found it is easier to help the ones who really need help. The modifications are more obvious. But to help those at the top of the spectrum can be difficult and less obvious. Without proper pre-service training teachers aren’t equipped with the tools or the knowledge to really challenge Gifted students effectively.
Gifted Education isn’t a reward. Some teachers thing that being in a gifted class is a reward. It isn’t. It’s a need that is to be filled because the student is in need of a curriculum that is full of complexity and stretch.
Gifted education isn’t typical. Gifted students are more than typical students. They are more than just perfect tests, or for over-achievers, and sometimes they are underachievers. They are atypical students with atypical needs. They are students who many times feel like they don’t fit in. Gifted classes should help bridge that, They can see they aren’t alone.
There are so many things that Gifted education isn’t. But there are some aspects of Gifted Education that are brilliant, and rewarding for me personally. Like you, I find working with Gifted children rewarding when they challenge me intellectually. They see things so much differently from other students. I find it rewarding when Gifted students find some commonality with others in their class. As you may know, I see my students once a week for 255 minutes. Its nice when students become friends with someone from another school in my class. It gives them something to look forward to.
What is rewarding about teaching Gifted children? What are some of your experiences with Gifted children that have made an impact on you? Do you know what Gifted education is? Or should I say what it is isn’t?