Ten Things Gifted Teachers Should Consider in Their Classrooms

top-tenI 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.

  1. Teachers set the climate of the classroom. Teachers set up the goals, expectations, and we challenge the students to meet and exceed those challenges.
  2. 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.
  3. Know your students. When pairing students together know who is an extrovert and an introvert. Do some learning inventories and pair students that way.
  4. Let students take ownership of projects. Give your students some leeway to put their personality stamp on projects that you do in your classroom.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.


Not all Gifted Children Test Well

istock_000042615630_large_redford_new_sat-jpg-736x0_q85The beginning of the  school year is always busy for me. This is the time of year many parents contact me to test their child to see if they qualify for gifted services. Many parents tell me their child is gifted, but tests don’t always show it. I always try to reassure parents that I try to create a peaceful and stress free environment. After testing and scoring, I come to the same result as the parent. The child didn’t test well. So I have to use more than just one instrument to see if a child is gifted or not.

But, how can a child who is gifted not test well? There are several ideas as to why a child doesn’t test well. Parents and teachers know some students don’t test well, but know they are smarter than the test results.

If you know a child is gifted, and isn’t a great test taker here are some ideas as to why they may not test well.

  1. Motivation. Some students have motivation and some don’t. If a student has a lack of motivation then doing well on a test is the last thing the child will do well on.
  2. Intra-Stress. Sometimes a student will not test well, because inside they are too stressed out. It doesn’t matter that the environment is peaceful and stress-free, some students will still battle their own stress.
  3. Perfectionism. Some students feel they need to be perfect in everything. This particularly comes out during timed testing. Children who suffer from perfectionism want to answer every question correctly sometimes will not test well. They get stuck on a question and can’t move on.
  4. Over-thinking. Gifted children are smart, but sometimes they overthink things. Students who overthink on tests don’t do well on multiple choice tests (which most gifted tests are). Gifted children make connections differently. When they can’t use their thinking skills to create something unique, they struggle.


To help children overcome these aspects teachers and parents need to help them overcome these shortfalls. When dealing with motivation or lack thereof, try to spark intrinsic motivation. Use their hobbies and passions to your advantage. Use the idea that doing well now will help them in the future to get into a college or university they are interested in going to.

To help a student who has stress issues teach them techniques that will help them center themselves. Help them to recognize when the internal stress is creeping up, and how to control it.

A student who has an issue with perfectionism needs to understand that making mistakes isn’t a big of deal they perceived it to be. To help them understand this place the student in simulations that they will make mistakes or fail. They will see and feel that they survived. This idea isn’t just with tests. This is an aspect of life. Children who suffer with perfectionism need to know at some point they will make mistakes in life. It matters how they handle the mistake and move on.

For students who  just overthink things on tests help them understand they don’t have to fish for an answer. Most multiple choice tests are straightforward. Just as in life, somethings are just that…straightforward. Once the test is over students will look back, and realize not fishing for a unique answer was the best decision.

As the school year goes on, and you begin to see some of the aspects listed above I hope that you can give these children, and parents some help.

What are some other aspects do you find in students who don’t test well.

For this post, I used the awesome resource Parenting Gifted Children by Jennifer L. Jolly, Ph.D., Donald J. Treffinger, Ph.D., Tracy Ford Inman, and Joan Franklin Smutny, Ph.D.

Great Way to End the Year

Today is the last day of school. Teachers are ready to check out and begin the summer break. To end the day, our principal brought in David Miller, an educational consultant from Baltimore, MD. I will have to tell you he was very good. He kept us engaged, and I learned a lot. Here is a few things that I learned.

1. Kids are not Disposable

We can’t count out our students when they are young. Even though some students may be difficult, rude, or combative you can’t count them out. You have to allow students to be children. Their frontal lobes are not fully developed. So they don’t see the whole picture of their actions. At some point we will and some have run into those tough students and talk to them. Many become successful, others don’t. For those former students who do, remember you made an impact on them even though you didn’t see it years ago.

2. Relationships with students is important

It is important to have authentic relationships with your students. Students don’t have to know everything about you, but you can share some things with them so they know you have experienced some tough times and good times. Reversely, students need to know you care about them and like them. It will make it easier for you to reach and teach them. If students know you like them, you can teach them.

3. You have to trust the people you work with

Co-Workers are important. Particularly in schools where we have seen some of the worst incidents. Knowing that others have your back in the small issues, will insure they will be there for the big issues. Know your co-workers. Talk and socialize with them when you can in school and out of school. Back you co-workers up when they need it when dealing with parents, students, or administration.

4. Shared Leadership

To change the climate at our school for the better, you must have shared leadership. The principals can change everything. There are more teachers than administrators. Teachers need to step up, and take charge of some the change they want to see in their building. Real change comes from the bottom up.

These are just a few things that I heard today from our speaker. It was a great time. I learned a lot. I hope your next Professional Development Day is as good as mine was.

What a Day!



Last Friday I took my students on a highly anticipated field trip to COSI. COSI is the Columbus Museum of Science and Industry. The two-hour bus ride from Lima to Columbus was fun. My students talked, and sang songs all the way down to COSI. Most of my students have never been to COSI before, so this trip was awesome.

I learned a lot about my students from this trip. I learned just how inquisitive they really are. My students asked questions, and tried a lot of new things. I learned what some of their science interests are. I learned that my students can be responsible. I allowed my students to walk freely with the chaperones just walking the building. My students went to some of the shows and demonstrations on their own and they learned a lot.

During t I learned that my students have an incredible appetite for knowledge. They all learned something at the museum. They didn’t hold back at all at trying some experiments or listening to hallway presenters do mini experiments.

I was so proud of my students. They represented their school, their families, and themselves very well. I couldn’t have been more proud.

Finishing Strong and Excited About it

It seems to me the last third of the school year can go so slow. Students are feelings the effects of Spring Break, and looking forward to summer vacation. Teachers are stressed to make sure the curriculum gets covered before the state exams.


There are a few things I do to get out of the funk, and finish the school year strong.

1.  Short Fun Activities: I like to add some short activities every so often just to break up the monotony of the classroom. Sometimes I will do a short little game where students have to move around. Sometimes I do a trivia games where students have to complete tasks to answer the questions. Generally these last about 10-15 minutes.

2.   Genius Hour: This year I am adding in Genius Hour. This is giving the students a little bit of time to work on something they are interested in. This is a great concept.

3. Change Scenery: When the weather is nice take your class out side, or teach your class down in the library. Sometimes just changing where you teach can help with rejuvenating your class. Now, I don’t do this too often. I do it when I know that my students will appreciate it.

4. Guest Speakers: Guest Speakers are awesome. When it presents itself, bring in a guest speaker. Having a someone from the community come in and speak to your students about a topic you are covering. The expereience can be great. Especially, when they are the role-playing a famous person, like a president or a Civil War solider

5. Mystery Skype/Google Hangout: Sometimes surprising your students with a Mystery Skype or Google Hangout can be so much fun. You need to make sure you practice how to conduct one of these before you surprise your students. But, having  students get the chance to talk about the same topics with another class or expert can be an awesome experience.

6. Music: I have a colleague who uses music in their class. They create songs with some of the topics they are studying. Here is a YouTube channel that incorporates music and history.  Doing some parodies of songs with your content created and performed by your students can be so much fun.

These are just a few things that I have done and do to help rejuvenate my students and myself for the end of the year. What do you do? What has worked? What hasn’t worked?

Grab Your Cup of Coffee and Take a Seat

This year I am mentoring a first year teacher here in my building. I find it to be a great privilege to mentor her, because I feel it is important to pass on experience and knowledge to others. This process is three years long, so by the time she has taught three years she should have a grasp of what it means to be an effective teacher.

One of the main issues that I stress to her is the fact that it doesn’t matter what you teach, what grade you teach, and where you teach at you have to establish a routine. Routines need to be simple, but yet give students an established way of doing things in your room. It also helps teachers effectively run a classroom. Before my students come into my class for the day, I always grab a cup of coffee, and review my lesson plans for the day. It helps me to be ready for the day.

It has taken a lot of time to perfect the routines in my room. I have found routines:

  • Make transitions easier: By that I mean students know that when I say certain things, or do something specific its time to get serious. For example, when a conductor steps up to the podium the band or orchestra gets their instruments ready to play. It’s the same in your classroom. Going from one activity to another is made easy by having the same routine every time.
  • Take the uncertainty out of the classroom: When students have a routine students don’t have to guess how to change from one activity to another. It’s alright to keep students on their toes during instruction, but not on how your class works. There is a reason why some restaurants work and others don’t. The manager has set a routine for the staff to follow. Staff members don’t have to guess what they have to do. They know.
  • Cuts down on downtime: Having a set routine for attendance, going to lunch, walking the halls, passing in homework, transitioning from activity to activity all help to cut down non-instructional time. The less downtime you have the more time you have to teach.
  • Help to set student behavior expectations: Students like to have routines. It creates a safe environment for them to operate in. They know what the expectations are, and they will follow them. If they don’t follow the routines they know the punishment. For students, knowing what they can do and how it is done is just as important as knowing what they can’t. Routines help students to understand your expectations, and will make your classroom a safe and predictable place to be.

When making your routines you need to make sure your routines are simple, and can be understood by all your students. It is also important to give students time to practice these routines so they become second nature. When you are thinking about making you routes for your classroom think about the following: (which I got these from here.)

  • Beginning the day
  • Entering and exiting the classroom
  • Labeling papers
  • Collection and distribution of papers
  • Signaling for quiet and attention
  • Appropriate times for moving around the room
  • Emergency drills and procedures
  • Going to the restroom
  • Moving throughout the school
  • Late arrival
  • Grading and homework policies (including make-up work)
  • Asking questions
  • Finishing an assignment early
  • Dismissal

What are your routines? What advice would you give a first year teacher about routines?

Being a Blowhorn

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.