My students tell me I talk to much. That’s fine. I love to teach. I love connecting with students, and getting to know them. I do this, because I want to know them. I have several of them on my Instagram and Twitter. Several of them follow our Classroom Facebook page. I believe that knowing students in and out of the classroom is important. I learn a lot about them from their Instagram, and what they talk about on twitter. The other aspect of that is they get to know me in and out of the classroom.
Many ask why I focus on making meaningful connections with my students. The answer to that is easy. Its easier to stand up and be a voice, a blow horn, or an advocate when you are invested in someone. If you are invested, then those you stand up for are more than numbers or blank faces they are close people. They are connected to you. You feel obligated to do your best for them. That’s how I feel about my students. They are my children.
Being an advocate is like being a blow horn. You are trying to get noticed, to give instruction, or give warnings. I call my self a blow horn. When you are a blow horn, you are rallying to troops around. In my case, I am trying to make sure that my students are getting what they need in their regular classes, and parents are getting information that will beefit their children. I am making sure parents and students have someone they can talk to when they want to have some experiences like summer camps, internships, or starting a parent group. They can count on me to help them as much as I can.
Being an advocate isn’t always easy. You have to be tactful, calculating, and sometimes cunning. Sometimes I hear my students complaining about a situation in a class they are in, and they are bored, under-challenged, or not engaged. I will try to meet that teacher, and suggest things to do with my students. It has to be done it tactfully. No teacher wants to be told they aren’t meeting the needs of their students. So informing others that their gifted students need to be pushed and stretched has to be done in a way that helps the teacher and students.
What I love about being an advocate is the fact that I get to share my passion, knowledge, and experience about and for gifted children. I try to be an open door for my colleagues to come in and talk about what I can do to help them, or to collaborate with them. I can I share my point of view. I don’t always get to meet with other teachers because of my teaching schedule, but when I do they will hear my views.
Advocacy takes several shapes. They don’t always have to be direct connection between students and teacher. Sometimes it with the public. Advocating is like a form of persuasion. You have to influence someone to get what you need. Sometimes advocacy is writing letters to the editor of your paper, or testifying in a state committee hearing, or going on a local morning show to plead your case.
Advocacy is also helping. Forming parent groups though SENG, or at your local school is one way that parents and schools can work together for the betterment of gifted students. Letting parents know what the gifted program is like, and why it exists is important. It also a good way for parents to find out what their school is offering gifted students like early college classes in high school, to post secondary education options from the local high school. It’s always good to have parents, teachers, and administrators making the suggestions for rules about acceleration of students for whole grade or subject.
Finally, advocacy is being informed. Letting parents, teachers, and administrators about some of the resources on the internet, classes or seminars / webinars, or blogs,books and magazines is an important aspect of advocacy. Parents and GISs need to stay aware of what is going on in the area of Gifted Education so they can share it with others and with administrators. Joining a gifted association like Ohio Association for Gifted Children, or your state Gifted Association is a great place to start. You could also join the National Association for Gifted Children as well to see what is going on nationally in Gifted Education. Joining a tweetchat on twitter or a gifted related Facebook page, or following several bloggers who write about gifted issues is a great place to start collecting resources to be an informed advocate.
How are you being an advocate for your gifted children? What have you done that has worked? What have you done that didn’t work? PLease share your experiences in the comment section below, or better yet, join the #gtbloghop and post your blog on Twitter using the #gtbloghop hashtag.