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Best Ways to Support the Gifted Teen

gtchat 06192015 Gifted Teen

 

“OK . . . let’s be honest: you cannot force a reluctant teenager to do anything, at least not for long. Whether it’s to do more homework (or to not obsess about its completion); to begin to become more social (or to cut back on the dating circuit); or to start planning for one’s college future (or to forget thinking of Harvard in 8th grade), teens have their own personal agendas, many of which tie into their newly found senses of power and independence.” ~ Dr. James Delisle

 

The teen years can be some of the most daunting years for gifted children as well as their parents and teachers. Gifted, profoundly gifted (PG) and twice-exceptional (2E) teens face many challenges not experienced by their age-peers. They often face unreasonable expectations and mixed messages about their abilities from adults. Gifted teens can have a different view of life and the world than do their classmates. They may prefer to be with intellectual peers rather than age-peers.

There was no shortage of acknowledging challenges for gifted kids:

  • There is nothing without challenge. Except learning, but he will never learn the way they want him to anyway. ~ Mona Chicks
  • For us, I think the social and emotional issues are the biggest hurdles. ~Celi Trépanier
  • My daughter is GT and basketball player. Was told she can’t be smart and a jock.Cliques can cause issues. She changed minds. ~Jodi Foreman
  • Where to start? All of them. Peers, asynchrony, divergent interests, feeling more, BEING more. ~ Jen Merrill

We next turned our attention to asynchronous development as it had been mentioned several times at this point. Asynchronous development – many ages at once – can have a profound impact on their social lives. Jonathan Bolding, middle school teacher of gifted and talented students in Nashville, told us that an “inability to connect with same-age peers may lead to social isolation.” Although intellectually ready to handle more challenging academics, they may not be able to navigate the social scene as easily.

Our third question considered sleep deprivation … how do you get a gifted teen to turn off the lights? For the homeschoolers present, this did not seem as much of a problem as it did for those with kids in public schools where early starts to the day proved difficult for most teens. It was an issue that followed many teens into adulthood. Many suggestions were offered on ways to get a teen to sleep. According to Dr. Jim Delisle, “A gifted teen’s greatest enemy is lack of sleep. Sleep is often not considered a priority for gifted adolescents. Resultant crankiness, listlessness, general “unattractiveness” are a direct result of this lack of sleep. The teen mind is often in overdrive – try to find methods of relaxation.”

How best can adults support sensible risk-taking regarding education? Risk-taking is a huge component in creativity! Teens should not shy away from actions for fear of appearing ‘different’.  They need to understand that being less than perfect is okay and not everyone is successful on the first attempt. (S. White) Learning to deal with failure and overcoming it are skills that can be learned during the teen years. Parents and teachers should both model how to cope with failure; be honest with their kids/students.

Many good strategies were discussed for developing self-advocacy in teens. Self-advocacy can be nurtured by allowing teens to experience natural consequences for their actions early on. Parents need to be less involved in ‘rescuing’ teens from academic issues and lend support to their teen. Jen Merrill suggested, “Start small. Encourage them to do things for themselves in public. Gradually work up to educational advocacy.”

The teen years can be a balancing act between ‘fitting in’ and intellectual authenticity with age-peers. It’s natural for teens to want to fit in with peer groups. Adults need to be understanding and give them some space to find their own way. Jeremy Bond, a parent, expressed it this way, “As with all teens, they should know you’ll always be there for support, but not to navigate things for them.” A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.

This week, our sponsor GiftedandTalented.com gave away a scholarship for a 3-month subscription to their K-7 Math and Language Arts Combination Course. The winner was Virginia  Pratt, a teacher of gifted and talented students in South Carolina. GiftedandTalented.com was born out of Stanford’s EPGY. EPGY was led by Professor Patrick Suppes and they are honored to continue his legacy.  Virginia was able to answer the question – “During Patrick Suppes’ 64 years at Stanford, how many books did he publish?” (Answer: 34) Congratulations, Virginia and many thanks to GiftedandTalented.com!

gtchat-logo-with-sponsor

 

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented and sponsored by GiftedandTalented.com is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7E/6C/5M/4P in the U.S., Midnight in the UK and Saturdays 11 AM NZST/9 AM AEST 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 new Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  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: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

Tips for Parents: The Real World of Gifted Teens

Tips for Parents: Gifted . . . and Teenagers, too

10 Ways to Help Your Gifted Teen Get the Best Out of Secondary School

Parenting Gifted Teens

Parenting Gifted Children in Teaching Gifted Kids in Today’s Classroom (pdf)

Deep Thinkers & Perfectionists: Getting to Know Your Gifted Teen

A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Teens: Living with Intense & Creative Adolescents Paperback (Amazon)

Parents of Gifted 3: Promote Sensible Risk-taking

Life Balance & Gifted Teens – an Oxymoron?

Sleep Deprivation and Teens

Exploring the Duality of the Gifted Teen

The Gifted Teen Survival Guide: Smart, Sharp & Ready for (Almost) Anything (Amazon)

Cybraryman’s Asynchronous Development Page

 

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Snappy Answers to Stupid Excuses

This week’s chat was based on a blog post by Dr. Jim Delisle at the Free Spirit Publishing Blog, “Snappy Answers to Stupid Excuses“.  Although Dr. Delisle could not be with us at the chat, he sent this reminder for parents and advocates. “When it comes to their g/t kids, just exhale now and again.”

delisle_jim_fsp-author

                                                      Dr. Jim Delisle

 

In his post, Dr. Delisle listed The Top 5 Offending Statements:

 

  • “You know, every child is gifted in some way …”
  • “We don’t need a separate gifted program, because all of our teachers differentiate.”
  • “It’s not fair to the less capable children to remove gifted children from their classrooms. Who will be their role models?”
  • “It’s not possible to be both gifted and have a disability. It’s either one or the other.”
  • “Your child can’t possibly be gifted – have you looked at her grades?”

 

Interestingly, the chat was populated mostly by educators as well as several homeschoolers. Most all had encountered some of the offending statements in their lives while advocating for gifted students. The discussion turned to personal experiences that they had in their own childhoods and remembrances of how their parents responded to situations involving these types of comments.

What advice did folks have for parents preparing to meet with teachers and school officials to discuss their child?

  • “Learn the language of gifted education. Any conversation will go better if you’re speaking the same language.” ~ Moderator
  • “With school leaders, it is not always what you say but how you phrase it that will either get them to dig in or listen.” ~ Diane Heacox, Ed.D., author (with Richard Cash) of Differentiation for Gifted Learner: Going Beyond the Basics
  • “Even teachers are willing to be taught if it’s done with tact. Bring resources you’ve found helpful to your kid’s teacher’s attention.” ~ Jeffrey Farley, middle school teacher in Beaumont, Texas
  • “Gather all your information, have references ready to quote, don’t allow conversation to get sidetracked and make appointment for next meeting.” ~ Jo Freitag, Coordinator of Gifted Resources and author of Sprite’s Site Blog, Australia
  • “Share anecdotes about child’s interests, behaviour, etc. Not all [teachers] know it affects sleep, self esteem.” ~ Barbara Larochelle, GT teacher for 15 years, Edmonton, Canada

What do you say when a school administrator tells you there is no need for a gifted and talented program because all students needs are being met in the regular classroom through differentiation of the curriculum?  Dr. Delisle suggests that you ask for specific examples of how differentiation is being done in your child’s classroom. Be prepared to show examples of your child’s work at levels well beyond current grade-level placement. Amy Harrington, Esq. and Board Director at SENG, told us “Many gifted kids don’t need teaching, but rather mentoring. Curriculum is also a waste of time. Modifying it is like a band aid.” Dr. Diane Heacox reminded us that, “Differentiated instruction for ALL is not the same as differentiated instruction for GT.” Drew Frank, principal of Davis Academy in Atlanta, made the astute observation that, “Asynchronous development, divergent thinking, hypermotor overexcitability…etc – In class DIn (differentiated instruction) is not enough to meet all needs of [GT]!”

“You don’t have the moral right to hold one child back to make another child feel better.” ~ Stephanie Tolan

Question #5 dealt with – What would you say to: “It’s not fair to the other students to remove gifted children from classes as they are role models.”? This elicited many divergent responses!

  • “Removing gifted and talented students can be the best thing for a class. When bored we’re…disruptive, rebellious, and BAD role models.” ~ Susanne Thomas, Director of Online Education at Gifted Homeschoolers Forum
  • “You don’t have the moral right to hold one child back to make another child feel better.” ~ Stephanie Tolan (quoted by the moderator)
  • “Teachers who say that are usually defining “gifted” as “sweet little high achiever who does what I say.” ~ Justin Schwamm, Latin instructor at Tres Columnae
  • “There is research around students modeling after those who they perceive to be more similar to them; not the superstar.” ~ Dr. Diane Heacox
  • In his blog post, Dr. Delisle suggested, “Ask for research-based evidence supporting statement that gifted students serve as role models in general education classes.”

The question as to whether or not a student can be gifted with an accompanying disability, twice exceptional, was discussed at length. It seemed to be a prevalent attitude among administrators who did not have experience with gifted education. However, the existence of twice-exceptional students is well documented. In fact, Dr. Delisle advises parents to say to administrators, “Suggest the possibility of other 2e [twice-exceptional] students and ask what steps the school has taken to identify them.” A full transcript of the chat may be found here.

Thank you to Dr. Jim Delisle and Free Spirit Publishing for permission to reference their topic on this week’s #gtchat.

gtchat thumbnail logoGlobal #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S., midnight in the UK and Saturdays 1 PM NZ/11 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 Pageprovides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community.

Head Shot 2014-07-14About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered byTAGT 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: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

Snappy Answers to Stupid Excuses

10 Lessons from Benjamin Franklin That Might Help Advocates of Gifted Learners via TAGT

Differentiation at Evernote

Using Design Process for Problem Solving and Education

Gifted Unschooling

Cybraryman’s Differentiation Page

Susan Brookhart ASCD Author

Dr. Diane Heacox (website)

Free Spirit Publishing

 

Dumbing Down America – An Interview with Dr. James Delisle

Dumbing Down America Delisle

Dumbing Down America the War on Our Nation’s Brightest Young Minds is the newest book from Dr. James R. Delisle. Dr. Delisle, thank you for agreeing to our interview. We at Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented are looking forward to reading your book.


Moderator
: For our readers who are not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little about your background in gifted education?

Dr. Delisle: I began my career in New Hampshire, as a teacher of children with intellectual and emotional disabilities way back in 1975.  Special Ed. was just emerging as the force that it is today, so it was exciting to be in on what was then a new trend in education.  My introduction to gifted children came in the form of one of my 5th graders who had been identified as “emotionally disturbed.”  Try as I might to get Matt interested in schoolwork, nothing much seemed to work.  He was a bright kid–he could read, write, do math, etc.–but I was focused so much on his misbehaviors and apparent lack of interest that I never considered using his talents as a way to reach his mind and heart.  Finally, in total desperation and with my bag of educational tricks empty, I decided to stop fighting Matt and to toss the instructional ball into his court.  This kid loved the outdoors and was interested in maple sugar farming–a project that involved much of his free time outside of school–so that became the vehicle I used to reach this unreachable kid.

maple-70407_640Maple Sugar Farming*

Within days of aligning Matt’s out-of-school interests with my goals as his teacher, he began to progress, perform and take pride in his work. After two years of teaching Matt, and seeing his success when schoolwork aligned with his interests and intellect, I decided I needed to know more about teaching kids like him. So, I began a Ph.D. program in gifted child education, focusing on kids like Matt–gifted boys and girls who didn’t do well in school because school didn’t do well by them.  I’ve been in this field of study ever since, as a teacher, professor, counselor, author and dad.

Delisle with studentsDr. Delisle with students

Moderator: The use of a ‘war’ metaphor in the title of your new book seems to indicate you have very strong feelings on the subject. What inspired you to write this book at this time?

Dr. Delisle: The subtitle of my book is “The War on Our Nation’s Brightest Young Minds (and What We Can Do to Fight Back)”.  To be sure, those are strong words–intentionally strong, on my part.  Having worked in this field of study for 37 years, I’ve grown tired of the small steps and meager progress that we have made as a nation to serve our gifted children.  Gifted children have educational, intellectual and emotional needs that differ from other kids their age who are developing in more typical ways–but we ignore these needs.  If, as a nation, we really thought that gifted kids had special needs, then why haven’t we included them in federal funding formulae as we do for kids with disabilities?  In 2013, the federal budget for children with disabilities was $12.9 billion.  For gifted kids?: a whopping $5 million.  If you assume that 3% of our nation’s K-12 children are gifted, that comes to about 2.5 million gifted kids in America–which means they get $2 of federal money each to address their needs.  A Happy Meal costs more than that!  The use of the term “War” in my book’s title is neither hyperbole or exaggeration; it’s just an honest admission that, as a nation, we choose to disregard the needs of gifted kids who need more than $2 of support each year. Indeed, it is a battle in local, state and federal educational venues to even get people to admit that gifted kids need opportunities to pursue learning at their own pace.  The budget cuts nationwide to gifted programs have been so dramatic in the past decade that it constitutes educational neglect.

“The use of the term “War” in my book’s title is neither hyperbole or exaggeration; it’s just an honest admission that, as a nation, we choose to disregard the needs of gifted kids who need more than $2 of support each year.”

Moderator: The idea of ‘dumbing down’ has serious implications for society as a whole. What do you see as the consequences for America if this trend is not reversed?

Dr. Delisle: What happens if we don’t stop dumbing down our educational options for gifted kids? We’re seeing the results already: our nation’s stature as an educational powerhouse is in shambles when compared to many of our international neighbors.  But more important than international test score comparisons is the personal cost paid by gifted kids who are told, in effect, that they don’t need anything special to excel; that their enhanced abilities and insights are not worth our attention; that sitting in a class with kids of lesser abilities will tamp down the egos of gifted kids and make them more sympathetic to students who struggle to learn; that giftedness is a myth because “everyone is gifted in some way.”  The ridiculous bias against gifted kids in our nation’s schools emanates from so-called educational visionaries whose sight is hampered by the gauzy lens of professional ignorance. By paying scant attention to the needs of gifted kids, we are squandering a resource that will make our nation less competitive, less meaningful, less respectful.

“By paying scant attention to the needs of gifted kids, we are squandering a resource that will make our nation less competitive, less meaningful, less respectful.”

Moderator: What responsibility does the gifted community (parents, educators, organizations) bear with regard to the state of gifted education today?

Dr. Delisle: What responsibility does the gifted community have in regard to the state of gifted child education today?  Part of the reason the field of gifted child education has not progressed much in 30 years is due to the infighting that occurs in this field of study.  While some people contend that gifted children should be identified and served in gifted programs, others find the “gifted” label off-putting and want to eliminate it completely.  Silly as it sounds, we can’t even agree on a common definition of giftedness or how to identify it. Some want to equate giftedness with eminence and developed talents, while others desire a more holistic approach to giftedness that encompasses social and emotional elements, not just intellectual factors. And even if, by some miracle, we could arrive at a consensus of what giftedness is, we’d still argue as to how educational services should be delivered.  The state and national organizations that promote the needs of gifted children, and the professionals who write the books and espouse their theories, would do gifted kids a big favor if they could fight less and cooperate more.

Delisle speakingDr. Delisle

Moderator: What do you propose to change course in this war on our nation’s brightest youth?

Dr. Delisle: So what do I advocate that we do to stop the dumbing down?  Here are some ideas worth considering:

  • First, we need to provide the same legislative protection for gifted kids that we give to students with disabilities.  It should make common sense that if you are in either the top or bottom 3% of intellectual abilities compared to others your age, you will have some unique needs that demand more than the standard curriculum.
  • Second, we need to make a national financial commitment to gifted children that explores everything from effective measures of student identification to best practices in instruction, to longitudinal studies that show us what works and what doesn’t. In my book, I elaborate extensively on how an outlay of $400 million over a five-year period could change the landscape for gifted children in America. This plan, developed by one of my personal heroes and one of our field’s finest contributors, James J. Gallagher, would be a game changer for anyone concerned about addressing the needs of gifted kids.
  • A third suggestion I discuss is to take some of the absurd amount of money that we spend annually of high-stakes testing and use those funds for something that actually helps kids and teachers.  The billions of dollars and countless classroom hours spent on assessment are robbing all children, gifted or not, of precious resources that are more vital to learning.

In my book, I review other areas we need to address–for example, defining giftedness once and for all; re-establishing elementary-grade “pull-out” programs; and admitting that the promise of differentiated instruction as the primary plan for serving gifted children is an ineffective, cheap way out for schools to pay lip service to meeting gifted children’s needs. Addressing these steps will not ensure a perfect world for America’s gifted kids, but it’d be a fine start.  As I conclude in Dumbing Down Americasaving gifted kids isn’t our choice–it’s our obligation.


Thank you, Dr. Delisle, for taking the time to do this interview. Dumbing Down America is available now from Amazon.
(Note: This post was cross-posted on the Gifted Parenting Blog.)

gtchat thumbnail logoGlobal #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S., midnight in the UK and Saturdays 1 PM NZDT/11 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 Pageprovides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community.

Head Shot 2014-07-14About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered byTAGT 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: gtchatmod@gmail.com

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