Change is not an easy thing. In the past, it could take generations to change the way a simple task was performed. In the 21st century, change is driven by social networking through social media outlets. Our inter-connectedness has become the vehicle that brings together the key-players at the global level. And, so it is with education reform and for the purpose of this blog … gifted education reform.
A very distinct difference at work today is a leveling of the playing field. No longer can parental concerns be dismissed because a parent may not have a background in education. In fact, parents should be recognized as a powerful advocacy group no longer separated by geography or culture. Parents of gifted children share many of the same concerns no matter where they live or the nature of their child’s abilities.
The time has come for members of the gifted community – parents, teachers, researchers, and advocacy groups – to come together and engage in practical and meaningful dialog on how to promote the needs of gifted children both in school and society in general.
After decades of research in gifted education, the same issues seem to be discussed with little forward movement in applying best practices in the classroom. This situation is not unique to education. Many fields of research, such as medicine, suffer from a ‘disconnect’ between researchers and practitioners. To address the situation, translational research can be used as a means of providing a ‘two-way street’ of communication so that researchers provide teachers with tools and teachers provide feedback to researchers on what works best in the shortest amount of time. Collaboration and data sharing are critical to its success. Simple concept; albeit late to the party!
So, how will these new connections be forged? Who will provide the impetus to bring all the parties to the table? Consider the benefactor; the one who too often seems to be lost in the shuffle of adult egos and career advancement … the gifted child. Who best advocates for this child? Answer: the parent. Now is the time for parents to take action!
The most effective way to open the conversation between academics and classroom teachers is through professional development. But here’s the rub … today, most professional development provided to teachers has nothing to do with gifted education. Enter ‘parents as informed advocates’. Parents need to form groups or committees to petition local school boards and administrators to provide sessions on gifted education.
There are many bonuses that can come when educators are educated about issues facing gifted students and their needs … a change of attitude, understanding, and acceptance. An improved relationship between general and gifted education can also occur.
To summarize, the best way to connect evidence-based policy decision-making with implementing best practices in the classroom based on newly acquired knowledge is for schools to provide professional development for teachers. To date, an under-utilized resource for making this happen is the parent.
In upcoming posts, I will discuss some successful curriculum models that did make it from research to classroom. These researched-base models can be implemented in a variety of school settings and will serve as a guide for readers who may want to investigate further.