A little while ago I had the pleasure of chatting with Jeff Shoemaker via Skype. One of the things that stuck me about teachers of gifted children is that no matter how much training or experience we have, nothing beats mulling over with other teachers approaches to meeting the needs of gifted children. There is never one solution in trying to meet the educational needs of gifted children – they are all individuals anyway – nor one solution to addressing each individual’s social and emotional needs.
The development of young children and adolescents in never a smooth path. But for gifted children, there are some extra bumps in the way. School is most often where these bumps begin to impose their effects. However, the actual bumps are often not identified. For example, the child who doesn’t complete a piece of classwork on time may be regarded as not making enough effort when in fact their perfectionism maybe holding them back.
Last week I delivered a guest lecture to two groups of trainee teachers (thanks to @rosedolan of NUIM and #pde14). I was stuck by how engaged they were with the story of giftedness I wanted to tell. There was plenty of questions throughout. It is clear that there is a desire to know about giftedness and how it impacts on gifted students and their teachers in the classroom. But we are a long way in Ireland from having specific training for teachers so that they can appropriately respond to gifted children in the mixed ability classrooms that are national policy in Ireland.
Although I have been a teacher for over 20 years, I still regard myself as only ‘becoming a teacher’. I think the same applies to teachers of gifted children. We never arrive, we only journey. My presentations were whistle-stop tours of giftedness. I would really love to see trainee teachers in Ireland begin a journey towards becoming a teacher that included a few stops at the awareness, knowledge and skills needed to meet the needs of gifted children. A whole semester would be nice, but 4 or 5 hour-long workshop sessions would be a big step towards helping teachers begin their own gifted journey (hint hint PDST!).
With lower second level schooling in Ireland currently being reformed, now is a good opportunity for the powers-that-be to do something other than pay lip service to the needs of gifted children in Ireland’s schools.
More on Jeff’s Blog Hop here.