GT advocacy is a long and winding road. For parents, it feels like it begins shortly after the birth of their child and continues to the point where their child takes over and self-advocates. It is the realization that it is a requisite for all those responsible for the education and care of a child who is identified as GT.
This week, our guest at #gtchat was Heather Vaughn. She is the K-12 Educational Outreach Coordinator at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas in Austin. Heather has been recognized by the National Association for Gifted Children and the Texas Association for Gifted and Talented for her contributions in creating and championing services for gifted students as well as serving on the #gtchat Advisory Board. She holds a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction and Gifted and Talented from the University of Mississippi, and an Ed.S. in Educational Psychology from the University of Georgia.
Educators advocating for the needs of GT students should take the time to seek out professional development involving gifted education. A knowledgeable advocate will always be a good advocate. Parents advocating for the needs of their GT child can be a best advocate by listening to their child and using their concerns to direct any and all advocacy efforts. Advocacy will be for naught if the child isn’t a full partner in the process.
“Knowledge is power. Sharing your GT experiences with administrators, district staff and elected officials gives current and future decisions a face, a personal story. Share through social media, letters, emails, phone calls and in face to face meetings.” ~ Heather Vaughn
Self-advocacy goes hand in hand with maturity and understanding of one’s own desire to grow and learn. GT students gain self-confidence when allowed to speak on their own behalf; an authentic outcome of self-awareness. It brings with it respect and that encourages a well measured response to the student’s needs by those adults tasked with providing gifted interventions for & necessary challenge to the student.
Students should be encouraged to become active participants in their communities and to investigate issues of personal interest facing their community. One possibility is to identify a cause and start an advocacy campaign. Starting an advocacy campaign requires the support of the student’s teacher and parents. Educators provide students with the time and resources to study potential causes and support the development of an action plan centering on finding and implementing solutions. Parents can serve as role models by taking an active role in civic duties and encouraging their children to become involved as well.
On identifying a cause and starting an advocacy campaign: “Ask students to write out their action plan. Guide them through primary and secondary research to learn more about the problem and see who they need to contact to instigate change. Encourage partnerships with community leaders and groups. Encourage students to look at communities around them (classroom, school, club, neighborhood) and brainstorm in groups. What are some problems? What are potential solutions? Guide respectful discussion to select the most plausible solution.” ~ Speak Up! Speak Out
Check out the links below to find resources that aid gifted students in taking action and find a transcript of this chat at Wakelet.
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at Noon NZST/10 AM AEST/1 AM UK to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
Effective Advocates (pdf)
Advocating for Exceptionally Gifted Young People A Guidebook (pdf – updated 2018)
Action Civics (pdf)
Graphic courtesy of Heather Vaughn.
The first chat of 2017 saw many familiar faces from across the U.S. and the globe! It was exciting to see many participants who had not been able to join us in recent months and their presence is always appreciated. All participants shared ways in which they would resolve to serve and advocate for gifted children in the new year. You may review a transcript of the chat at Storify and take a moment to check out the links from the chat below.
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.
4 Year Old Explains the Problem with New Year Resolutions (YouTube 1:55)
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.
This week, #gtchat celebrated 4 years of support from the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented. Pictured below is the staff of TAGT and our Advisory Board. I am so thankful for the support they give me each and every week. #gtchat simply would not be possible without it. They are always a phone call or email away.
During the TAGT 2015 in December, the question came up in one of my sessions, “How can we use Twitter to advocate for gifted education?” This led to the topic for this week’s #gtchat. Although I am admittedly biased, I believe Twitter is the best form of social media to use for advocacy. It is concise; to the point; and without the ‘drama’ of other platforms. As pointed out by #gtchat Advisor, Lisa Van Gemert, “Twitter is less susceptible to the echo chamber that you get in Facebook.” Twitter encourages and facilitates creation of communities with shared interests, desires, end goals. (Putnam) Twitter chats with a recognizable and unique hashtag promote a continuing conversation over time. Using appropriate hashtags wisely allows advocates to reach beyond the ‘choir’; outside the box.
“Twitter is less susceptible to the echo chamber that you get in Facebook.”
~ Lisa Van Gemert, the Gifted Guru
Advocacy via Twitter can be accomplished by retweeting, hashtagging and liking tweets. One can use Twitter to identify gifted education advocates or organizations and build relationships by ‘following’; using DMs; and adding to lists. The strategic success of advocacy via Twitter requires a fluid and an evolving approach to using social media. Over time, other forms of social media may be used to supplement the reach of Twitter by tapping audience preferences.
“Twitter brings a much wider conversation; other social media can become silos.” ~ Dr. Brian Housand
How can gifted organizations use Twitter to advocate for gifted education/children & benefit their members? As the quote below reminds us, on Twitter organizations can simultaneously provide information, foster involvement and promote advocacy. (Lovejoy and Saxton) must commit to a
long-term presence on social media; specifically Twitter and eschew ‘quick result’ strategies. Twitter provides conduit to reaching existing supporters and potential audiences; i.e., educators needing gifted classroom strategies. The ‘community’ paradigm can extend to fostering interaction between organizations for the greater good. Twitter can be used to forge an authentic voice; replicate print and web communications; and as a conversational tool. Organizations can also use Twitter to share information on upcoming conferences, webinars, and chats; always using hashtags to widen reach.
Parents, too, can use Twitter to advocate for gifted children and their education. Parents meeting on Twitter can facilitate in real life meetings for kids and their peers. By Participating in Twitter chats related to gifted education and gifted students, they are able to affirm positive messages about these kids. In several states, parents along with advocates have combined forces to use Twitter to effectively appeal to politicians considering gifted education legislation. Tracy Fisher, #gtchat Advisor, told us, “Part of advocating is LEARNING! They can lurk, ask experts for info, etc.”
“It is easy to share with several groups of people by using multiple hashtags.” ~ Tyler Clark, Executive Assistant of the World Council for Gifted & Talented Children
Twitter is often used at gifted conferences as a backchannel for attendees as well as presenters. It is used to initially promote and raise awareness about upcoming conferences. Then, Conference attendees can use conference-specific hashtags to tweet from sessions. Presenters use Twitter to connect with their audience and get immediate feedback during sessions. It’s even a great way to plan Tweet-ups at the conferences!
“Commentary tweets and special twitter sessions from conferences can give people a vicarious feeling of attending.” ~ Jo Freitag, Gifted Resources & Sprite’s Site
“A conference can encourage social media participation before and during the conference; including all!” Carolyn K., Hoagies Gifted
Finally, we discussed how to use Twitter to connect with peers and colleagues to advocate for gifted issues. Gifted advocates can connect with leaders in the field in real-time to tweet issues important to all. It can be used to acknowledge accomplishments within the gifted community; announce new books; and link to relevant blog posts. Users can encourage followers to connect by tagging them in tweets and graphics. It’s an excellent way to build communities of like-minded advocates. 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 Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon NZST/110.00 AEST/1.00 UK (Subject to change due to Daylight Savings Time). 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.
Dialogic Connections (Shaw) (pdf)
Graphics courtesy of Lisa Conrad.
“Today many gifted learners are starving for the equal opportunity to develop their unique potential. We need to put the power for change-making where it has always belonged – in the hands of the gifted individuals themselves. No one knows better than they what is going on in their heads and hearts as they sit in class, walk the halls, complete assignments, interact with their peers and teachers. When given the information they need students themselves are best able to decide when, where and how they want their education to be differentiated. Our role must be to create and sustain a partnership with them. We must find ways to tell them, “There is something you can do right now to change tomorrow or next week or next month or next semester. You can advocate for yourself, ask for what you need.” ~ GT Carpe Diem
Self-advocacy plays an important role in the development of gifted students. It enables students to become self-reliant; to be cognizant of their own needs; to advocate effectively while remaining respectful; often in a classroom setting.
It is important to develop self-advocacy in children. Every facet of a gifted student’s life is affected when they don’t receive an education that maximizes their potential. Self-advocacy is a life-skill; a tool that a gifted child needs to achieve goals and become self-sufficient. As Dr. Jennifer Marten, GT teacher and coordinator in Wisconsin, stated, “We, as parents or teachers, can’t be there for them 24/7. They need skills to help them navigate school and life.”
Most people in attendance believed that it’s never too soon to start teaching self-advocacy skills. Maturity and the ability to verbalize their own needs are important factors, but simple steps can be taken to develop the necessary skills before this both at home and in the classroom.
Parental involvement is sometimes necessary to ensure that what is being advocated for is actually getting done. Parents should take time to talk to their child; outline what they feel is necessary. Then practice communication skills. On occasion, parents may need to step in if school personnel fail to treat their child respectfully or refuse to work with them.
Self-advocacy is a life-long process that can lead to success as an adult; a person who takes responsibility and can speak up for themselves. Adults who have learned how to self-advocate know when and where to seek help. It can lead to self-respect and the ability to listen to others with differing opinions; and work together. A transcript of the chat can 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 2 PM (14.00) NZDT/Noon (12.00) AEDT/1 AM (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 atStorify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
Cybraryman’s Gifted & Talented Page (Scroll to Advocacy)
Les Links Gifted Advocacy (LiveBinders)
The Gifted Kids’ Survival Guide (Amazon)
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad. Photo courtesy of morgueFile.