Challenging gifted students is often overlooked by educators already overwhelmed with a wide range of ability levels in today’s inclusive classrooms. Teachers cite the pressures of dealing with a culture of testing, lack of preparation time, and reduction in support staff as constraints on their time to adequately work with students who are admittedly working well beyond the expected standards.
This week’s #gtchat on Twitter sought to raise awareness of the real consequences of not challenging this population and to consider the many ways gifted students could be challenged in the regular classroom, the self-contained gifted classroom and outside of school as well.
Why should teachers be concerned about students who are working beyond established grade-level requirements? Many mistakenly believe that gifted students can make it on their own and that time spent with them takes away precious time from students who ‘really’ need help. This mindset unfortunately results in promoting classroom disruption by students bored with unchallenging material; creating students who fail to learn persistence, develop low self-esteem, and loose the love of learning. In essence, it subverts the nature of education.
Just as harmful as lack of challenge; so, too, are methods that have been used by teachers who are not certified or have not received professional development in gifted education. Using gifted students as teaching assistants, piling on additional work which lacks depth and complexity when regular assignments are completed early, assuming they excel at everything and thus failing to adequately cover new material should all be avoided.
What strategies do work in an inclusive classroom? If inclusion is the only option, flexible ability grouping is essential. Consideration should be given to students’ passion as well as ability. Pre-assessment, tiered lessons geared to the student’s ability level recognizing complexity and novelty, independent study based on student interests, curriculum compacting, and valuing student voice can work when teachers and administrators acknowledge the needs of gifted students.
The idea of a self-contained, multi-aged gifted classroom was preferred by participants in our chat. These classrooms were more likely to have a teacher trained in gifted education and more leeway could be given to creative approaches to teaching. They also provided the opportunity for students to work with intellectual peers and to progress based on mastery rather than simply by grade-level. A full 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 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.
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
Challenging the Gifted from Duke TIP
Four Ways to Reduce Behavior Problems from Byrdseed Gifted