The Real Struggles of Gifted Teens

Sometimes you never know what will impact someone when they read your blog. Its a great feeling to know that someone is reading your thoughts. That’s what happened over the weekend. I want to share something with you that really pulled at my heart strings. This is the comment she made to a guest blog spot I did on the High Ability Blog.

“I am actually in 6th grade myself. I am now at a new school that doesn’t have a gifted program, but my old school did and I was diagnosed as gifted. At my old school a lot of people were gifted or bright, and the people who were slightly less smart were ostracized. Here it is the complete opposite. The magority of the class are average or below average students, and they ostracize the more smart people. Right now, being new, a lot of people haven’t passes judgement on me, or at least I thought so until last Friday. I was talking to one of my sort of friends (people who hang out with me just to cheat of off me) and I told her that I was staying in for lunch to help one of my other sort of friends with her exponenents because she didn’t understand them when another girl that I’d never talked to in my life came up to me and said, “You’re confused with exponents?” I explained what I had really said and she said “Yeah, becasuse aren’t you some sort of genius or something? I don’t think that you would get confused.” First of all, I am no genius. I may be smart, but not that smart! Also, I get confused a lot.

Anyway, I don’t really get teased much, just used. However, the leader of the sort of friends is just getting worse and worse. Yesterday she was giving me the silent treatment (I don’t know why) until she realized that she needed help on her homework and came over to me for the answer. The problem is that it is really hard to keep myself from giving out answers because they will just keep begging me for them. Anyway, I gave her the answer, and then she went back to not helping me again. She calls me a nerd and a genius (which is a derogatory term to her) almost daily. I am panicking about going back to school because we have to present our book reports, and mine is 8 pages long. I have a feeling that the situation is not going to get any better.”

As educators, and advocates we constantly talk about what makes the Gifted Child different; how to give Gifted students the right classroom environment; and we talk about the issues of funding. But, one aspect that is at times, ignored (which I am guilty of) is not spending enough time talking about the real struggles of Gifted children. Sometimes we need to focus on the emotional side of Gifted.

I believe what this young lady has written is something that happens more often than we would like to admit. So, what can we do for this young lady as well as others who are in the same situation? I don’t want to claim that I have the answers, becuase I don’t. But, I do feel that there is a few things that we as educators and advocates can do.

Watch Out and Listen

As educators we need to watch the interactions of all students. We need to keep an eye out for bully behaviors. Most times, the smart ones are bullied first, and most often, along with the smaller students. We need to watch how these students interact with others in and out of the classroom and common areas, such as lunchroom, hallways, restrooms, and library. Once the bully behaviors have been seen, as an educator or advocate you need to take swift action to remedy the issues.

We also need to listen to the conversations of students. When you hear phrases that could sound deroggatory toward a student or group of students then you need to make sure to take sift action, I understand someone may be trying to make an innocent comment, but the other person may take it as an insult. We to model to students how to talk to students. Sometimes role playing is a great way to show points.


We need to support our Gifted students emotionally. As educators and advocates, we need allow our Gifted students be themsleves. They need to know and feel that how they learn, and the products they do is normal for them. If they do a book report and its 8 pages long, then they need to know that its alright. Just like we need to show those who do a book report that is only 2 pages that it also alright.

We need to show support for them by giving them a curriculum that matches their learning progression. But we also need to make sure that they don’t feel like they stick out “like a sour thumb” when they present their products to the class. Some students embrace their giftedness, and some try not to allow others to see their giftedness. As educators we need to be sensitive to that.

Educate Ourselves

One thing that can help Gifted students become more educated about Gifted and Talented students. Teachers and advocates can do this by taking classes and siminars, joining Gifted Associations, or joining Twitter chats, Facebook discussions, or Google Plus hangouts about Gifted students and issues. The more regular education teachers know about the tendies of Gifted students, the more Gifted students will be successful in the regular classroom.

I know, I don’t have all the answers. You already may be doing many of the suggestions above. So, here is my question: what are you doing to support your Gifted students?


3 thoughts on “The Real Struggles of Gifted Teens

  1. dawn

    Sounds very much like my 14 year old who is simultaeously in 10th grade and freshman at university. And my 11 year old who is 4.0 in 7th grade. They get mostly used for homework or class help, then ignored. It was their decision to grade accelerate, but has not been easy.

  2. Gail Post

    It’s great that you write about the importance of teachers attending to the emotional and social needs of gifted students. Too often they are left to themselves, as it is assumed “they will do just fine on their own.”

    The atmosphere of inquiry, curiosity, and love of learning that teachers can foster will hopefully engage all students. However, many classroom settings present difficult challenges when there are a wide range of learning needs. The more gifted students can be encouraged to find like-minded peers, the more support they may feel. Sometimes this can be accomplished with classes based on ability grouping. When this is not available, teachers may be able to group students as much as possible. Just one idea…

    Gail Post/


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