Sometimes it seems so simple to identify the gifted children in your classroom. They answer all the questions, they read very well, and can make friends very easy. Sometimes they are labeled “teacher pleasers” or the “teacher’s pet.” But there are those that don’t fit this mold or the stereotypical nerdy child you see in the movies or on television.
It is my goal in this post to shed some light on some of the areas or masks that gifted children hide behind that may cause them to not be identified as gifted. This list isn’t a complete end all be all type of list. These are just a few that I feel that are most common.
Many gifted children function at a very high level in one or more areas, but socially and emotionally they may be functioning at much lower level. You may see very smart children acting what would be perceived as immature for their ability.
Lack of study skills or habits
As you may know gifted children are very smart. Many don’t struggle until later in high school. Passing through elementary and middle school without having to put much effort into their studying. Once that struggle comes many gifted students don’t know how to handle it. Their self concept can get damaged. Many gifted children will shut down. This doesn’t always happen in high school. It happens in the early grades as well.
Underachievement is basically when a child simply chooses not to perform to expectations of their teachers, peers, or parents. There could be some psychological reasons for this, some may have to do with personal preference with the subject, project, or environment they are in. This disengagement can lead to many gifted children not being identified correctly. They may be actually gifted, but teachers may see them as lazy.
Communication with Peers and Adults
One aspect of gifted children have is ability to communicate. Gifted children tend to communicate more frequently with adults. Gifted children have the ability to think in the abstract, have a divergent thinking paradigm, and have comprehensive vocabularies. Sometimes this leads to less communicating with peers and more with adults. With a majority of their communication with adults gifted children can socially isolate themselves from their peers.
Gifted children can feel very isolated from their peers. Peers may not understand their interests, have trouble following their intricate games, and not understand them due to their large vocabulary. Finding true friends can be very difficult. Due to this many gifted children find it easier to do things on their own.
These are just a few behavioral masks that gifted children tend to wear. As gifted intervention specialists, parents and teachers we need to help our gifted children in different situations so they can be successful.
Have you seen some of these behaviors in your classroom? How are you supporting your gifted children?
I was talking to a few teachers this week, and the conversation of classroom climate and management came up. So from that conversation I came up with ten take-a-ways that gifted teachers should consider.
Teachers set the climate of the classroom. Teachers set up the goals, expectations, and we challenge the students to meet and exceed those challenges.
Form relationships with your students. Make time in your daily routine to have a short class meeting. In that meeting allow students to talk, share, and express themselves with you and others.
Know your students. When pairing students together know who is an extrovert and an introvert. Do some learning inventories and pair students that way.
Let students take ownership of projects. Give your students some leeway to put their personality stamp on projects that you do in your classroom.
Listen to your students. Many students have passions they want to explore. Give time in your weekly schedule to allow students to explore these topics. Give them the opportunity and materials they need to effectively explore their passions.
Create a classroom library. This goes along with number 5, but as you are listening to your students see what interests them in their reading. Get those books for your classroom library. If students like books along the lines of Harry Potter then try to get those books for your classroom. If you see that some students are interested in paleontology then get books on dinosaurs and such. The better stacked your library is the more opportunities you give your students to explore new and exciting topics.
Climate of creativity. Allow your students to be creative. Do projects that multiple answers. Incorporate into your classroom passion projects or project based learning projects. By doing these you are giving your students some real world learning.
Incorporate technology and social media. Just about every student has some experience with technology.Use that as often as it is appropriate. Along with that use social media (age appropriate as well) in your lessons. Allow students to use Twitter or Facebook to post thoughts, videos, and links to assignments.
Co-Teach with regular education teachers. Sometimes it is good to go into the regular classroom to see how your students perform. Work with as many regular education teachers to help deepen the content for your students and for regular education students.
Differentiate your curriculum. Even though all of your students are gifted, you still need to differentiate your instruction.
Did I miss anything that you feel I should add to this list? If you let me know in the comment section below.
As the end of the school year is approaching, I am saying good-bye to some great 8th grade students. This group of students I have seen then grow up since they were in the 3rd grade, and now they are about to embark in a journey through high school. I will truly miss them.
I was thinking over the weekend, that every year around this time of the year is tough for me, because I built a relationship with my students. I tried very hard to get to know each of my students even though I only see them one day a week, I build in time to talk and build relationships with them in my class.
Being an impactful teacher is all about building relationships. Students respond better to teachers they know want to know them. I think the work that I put in building these relationships helps in the long run.
Here are some ideas that you can do to help build impactful relationships with your students:
Have a Class Meeting: By having a class meeting at least once or twice a month you are letting your students share some concerns, problems, or some good things that are going on in their life or in the classroom.
Tell stories about yourself: I often tell stories about myself. I let them know of the things I did when I was their age so they know I am human. I want to them to know me, and where I come from so they have an idea of what kind of teacher I tend to be.
Have a safe environment to learn: For students and teachers to work together the classroom has to be a safe place. My students know that I shut down any negative talk towards a student, or situation. I want my students to feel that my classroom is safe place they can express themselves without the worry of criticisms of their ideas, or beliefs.
Have one-on-one conversations: What I like to do is have one-on-one conversations with my students. Sometimes I sit with a student or a small group of students and just talk. I ask questions about their projects, what they know about the project before they started, and what they did to gain that prior knowledge. Generally that last part leads to them talking about their home life, or some vacation they went on.
Eat lunch together: Sometimes I invite my students to eat lunch in my classroom to just chat. We generally talk about music, books, sports, movies, computer games, phone apps, and future plans. I like these times. During football or baseball seasons some of my students are avid fans so we talk about our favorite sport teams. We generally have a really good time.
Attend school events: I try to go to some of my students’ school functions when I can. My students know I have a large family and its hard to get to everything my own kids are in all the time. But if I can’t make it I invite them to tell me about it. I try hard to show an interest in their hard work.
Share social media: I know teachers and students talking over social media can be looked badly upon. I keep a class Facebook for my students to participate on. I also have a twitter they can contact me or share things with me. I place limits on things like their parents must know we are being friends on social media, and I do not accept any private messages from students. Some school districts don’t let teachers and students talk over social media, so I would suggest you make sure you know what your district rules are.
Overall, most teachers are probably doing everything that I suggested above. Teachers know that education is all about relationships. I hope that you are building relationships with your students. I know for me it is easy to do. My students have a desire to talk to people they think are on their same level based on their intelligence. Gifted students like to talk to adults. So we talk….a lot.
What are you doing to build relationships with your students?