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 Power of Self-Advocacy for Gifted Learners was recently released by Free Spirit Publishing and we were excited to have the author, Deb Douglas, as our guest this week on #gtchat. It proved to be a much needed topic and drew many new participants to the chat.
One of the greatest impediments to self-advocacy for gifted learners are the adults who become over-involved. Far too often, parents and teachers are so used to advocating when kids are young; they don’t know when to stop.
Self-advocacy is a part of growing up. A key benefit of teaching gifted learners to self-advocate is that it has a profound effect on a student’s later success. Gifted people in general use self-advocacy techniques throughout their lives; but they must learn them first.
Like all students, gifted learners’ educational experiences should ensure continual growth in academics and socially. They should be taught to advocate for experiences they truly want and will use.
What should students consider when self-assessing their own needs prior to self-advocacy? Self-assessment needs to start early and develop into a continual process throughout their time in school. It should be combined with determining personal goals and how to meet them.
Parents play an important role in helping students become successful self-advocates. Parents are their child’s first role model. They should be consistent, positive, and empathetic to child’s needs. Students will find success as self-advocates when parents learn to allow their child to take the lead when ready.
Students should first create an Action Plan. They go hand in hand with setting goals and deciding how they will be reached. Action plans should list necessary steps and a realistic timeline to reach goals. A transcript of this chat may be found at our Storify page.
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/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 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 Deb Douglas (Free Spirit Publishing)
GT Carpe Diem (Facebook)
Letting Go While Holding On and Changing BLAH to AHHHHH! (pdf) Courtesy of NAGC
Stepping Back from Overparenting: A Stanford Dean’s Perspective (Podcast 21:46)
Title graphic courtesy of Lisa Conard.
Photo and all other graphics courtesy of Deb Douglas.
“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.
“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!
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.
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.