The education pendulum has swung to side where collaboration and teacher teams are becoming more and more popular. Teacher based teams are the norm in many school districts across the country. These teacher based teams work to help improve curriculum and instruction for students in their classes.
As a gifted intervention specialist, I spent some time in some of these teach based teams giving my input. This wasn’t a common occurrence though. Many times, I felt like I have some expertise about a student population that I could give some insight, but it was not often sought after. So often I felt like I was on an island by myself.
I want to share a few ideas that gifted intervention specialists can use that can not feel like the only person on a deserted island.
- Be assertive: Have open discussions with your administrators, and general education teachers about the importance of students who are gifted being challenged and receive a curriculum that needs to be differentiated due to their abilities.
- Be a resource: Along with having discussions with administrators and general educators, ask to present to the staff during professional development days. Choose topics that could most benefit general education teachers in the classroom. The more visible you can be in your building, the more often you may be sought after when issues come up. I know some gifted intervention specialists who send out a weekly or monthly newsletter with gifted education information and other pertinent information such as testing, teaching strategies, curriculum compacting or acceleration benefits.
- Build relationships: Communicate with your students’ parents often. Don’t wait until parent-teacher conferences to meet or talk to your students’ parents. Ask how they are performing in their general education courses. Let them know how their child is doing in your classes. With your students who are gifted, ask them how they are doing in their other classes. Let them know you are their advocate for an appropriate education that meets their abilities.
- Be an advocate: This is connected to the previous point. By building relationships with your students who are gifted, you build trust with the parents and their children. You are becoming the cog between the general education teacher and the home. Use Twitter, Facebook, a self built website, or other means to connect with your parents, staff, and students. For you colleagues who are tech savvy suggest people to follow on Twitter, or Facebook groups to join that are focused on gifted education.
- Be supportive: If you can with the support of administration, I would suggest forming a parent support group made of the parents of your students. Present to them some information that would be helpful. Suggest books, magazines, websites, or people to follow on Twitter and groups on Facebook. Connect with your Education Service Center (ESC), gifted coordinator, or state gifted association for support in getting resources and guest speakers who can help educate your parents on gifted education. Invite general education teachers to join in so they can see different aspects of gifted education.
Now, this isn’t an exhaustive list. I would suggest looking at the climate of your building and school district to use and modify the few suggestions listed above to help you in your situation. What do you do to be active in teacher based teams, or being an advocate for your students?