Gifted Advocacy: What’s the Point?
Longtime #gtchat contributor Jo Freitag of Gifted Resources in Australia led off this week’s chat by explaining, “Whenever anyone speaks up to increase awareness or explain issues, they are acting as an advocate.Parent groups can advocate by increasing information and awareness by guest speaker sessions and seminars.” Leslie Graves, President of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children added, “Parents, educators and those in related professions [such as] health, mental health and extended family as well as legislators, too, [can act as advocates].” Angie French, GT teacher in Texas reminded us, “Remember, GT kids can advocate for each other too. As adults, we need to equip them with info and skills.” Jonathan Bolding, GT middle school teacher in Tennessee, explained advocacy strategies, “Parents can write op eds; groups can organize and meet with their local Policymakers; attend board meetings.” Amber Styles, Communications and Scholarship Recruitment Coordinator at the Jack Kemp Cooke Foundation, continued by saying, “Parents know their children best, but teachers and education leaders are important partners in advocacy.” Indeed, our entire chat focused on those who advocate and why they do so for gifted children.
We next considered why gifted students need special education and the responsibilities schools have for educating ALL students. The general consensus was that all students have a right to learn something new everyday; AYP [Annual Yearly Progress] applies to every student. Mary Chancellor, teacher in Texas, pointed out, “Gifted students often are reluctant to speak up in heterogeneous classrooms since classmates don’t always “get” what they’re saying.They may think of their GT classrooms as their safe place.”
How do we get beyond charges of elitism when advocating for gifted education? Sports metaphors are applicable; benefits accorded top athletes should be granted to our top scholars as well. Celi Trépanier, author and former public school teacher, told us, “We need to keep putting information about gifted children out into the public and keep advocating–never give up.”
Next we turned our attention to what should be the primary focus of gifted advocacy to better serve gifted children. Advocates need to seek out ‘best fit’ between gifted students and available programs or proposed programs. Tracy Fisher, TAGT Board of Directors member, believes, “focus should be on the importance of EVERY child having a MINIMUM of a year of growth in a year.”
Finally, we considered strategies for advocating for gifted education; effectively getting the message out. Remaining calm and professional while negotiating with school personnel is paramount to effective advocacy. Karen Mensing, elementary teacher in Arizona, suggested, “People sometimes seem to understand how essential gifted services are when it’s compared to special education.” Tracy Fisher said of her school district in Coppell, Texas, “WE STARTED A “tier services” structure two years ago. Now, every GT Learner (beginning in elementary) will have an IEP.” The moderator added, “Self-advocacy on the part of older gifted students often results in beneficial outcomes and parents should learn the language of educators; talk the talk! ” Carol Bainbridge, Gifted Kids Guide at About.com, said, “My parent group used to put on talks by experts, open to the public; went to the county fair; and left brochures at libraries.” Mary Phillips, teacher in Michigan, suggested, “Frame the conversation around who might best benefit from gifted/talented offerings, not who “deserves” it most.”
“Final thoughts: I hope we are never too discouraged or feel advocacy is hopeless. We have a mountain to move, but we can together.” ~ Celi Trépanier
A transcript of the chat may be found at Storify.
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7E/6C/5M/4P in the U.S., Midnight in the UK and Saturdays Noon NZDT/10 AM AEDT to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
GT Carpe Diem (pdf)
The Problem with “Formative Assessment Tools” (part 2 of 2)
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad
Posted on October 22, 2015, in Advocacy, Education, gifted, gifted and talented, gifted education, parenting and tagged advocacy, gifted advocacy, gtchat, TAGT, Twitter. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.