How Does Full Inclusion Affect Gifted Students?
Full inclusion places all ability levels in one classroom. It expects a teacher to be responsible for all children; regardless of ability or behaviors. Todd Kettler, assistant professor at UNT, explained, “Full inclusion makes big assumptions about curriculum and instruction in order to be effective for all learners. I’m not a fan of full inclusion. I recommend flexible grouping based on ability and interest with a modified curriculum. Well designed curriculum, trained and qualified teachers, and grouping will lead to the highest achievement for GT students.”
Full inclusion is very popular in education generally today. It is a real boon for strained budgets. Many administrators believe inclusion is the only appropriate approach to equity in education for all students.
How does inclusion impact gifted kids? Do other students really see them as role models? Far too often, gifted kids are relegated to the back of the room reading while other students learn material new to them. Rather than being role models, gifted students become the subject of ridicule or bullying. It can create lasting scars. Dr. Gail Post expressed that inclusion’s impact on gifted kids is “rarely positive – they have to fit in, dumb down, wait for others to catch up, and manage boredom. [It’s a] huge myth that at-risk kids will see them as role models – if anything, the situation will evoke envy and possible bullying.”
Professional development for teachers may sometimes compensate for classroom attitudes toward gifted students. It can go a long way is shaping attitudes; but more may be needed to change preconceived notions about gifted students. The core of education should always be to create empathy for one’s subject matter; with learning comes understanding. Jonathan Bolding, a MS G/T educator and 2015-16 NAGC Javits-Frasier Scholar in TN, pointed out, “PD for teachers is only part of the equation. Follow-up on fidelity of implementation, leadership support, and whole school buy-in” are also necessary.
Does removing gifted students from a classroom negatively impact the rest of the class? More often, the removal of gifted students from a classroom may have a positive effect. Removing them can allow teachers more time to work with other students who need their assistance.
Can differentiation of the curriculum really meet the academic needs of gifted students? It is dependent on the quality of professional development provided to classroom teachers. Differentiation may meet the needs of some students, but rarely the needs of highly-abled students. Jo Freitag, coordinator of Gifted Resources and author at Sprite’s Site in Australia, told us, “Differentiation is only effective if each student receives their required level of depth and pace; however extreme.” A transcript of this 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 Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at 14.00 NZST/12.00 AEST/1.00 UK 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
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.