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.
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
Effective Advocates (pdf)
Advocating for Exceptionally Gifted Young People A Guidebook (pdf – updated 2018)
Action Civics (pdf)
Graphic courtesy of Heather Vaughn.