Wednesday, August 10, 2011

World Council for Gifted and Talented Children

Today is being celebrated as the first International Day of the Gifted by the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children as part of their 19th Biennial Conference being held in Prague, Czech Republic from August 8th to August 12th.

This year’s conference boasts attendees from 69 countries and keynote addresses by some of the world’s most respected speakers in gifted education including Dorothy A Sisk, speaking on Developing Leadership Capacity in Gifted Students; Maureen Neihart, speaking on Revised Profiles of the Gifted (originally proposed in 1988 with Dr. George Betts); Franz J MÅ‘nks, speaking on Gifted Education Worldwide: Retrospective and Prospect; and Ken McCluskey, speaking on Creating Creative, Cooperative Environments; as well as notable speakers: Leslie Graves, Roya Klingner, Peter Csermely, Barbara Kerr, Julie Taplin, and Paige Morabito among others. Of special interest this year will be a presentation by Rebecca Howell who will present, “Experience, Issues and Concerns of Parents of Gifted and Talented Children”.

As a parent of a gifted child, you may not be aware of this organization as its main stakeholders are educators, scholars, and researchers. Although they do mention “supporting and enhancing parent and family education regarding the development of the potential of all children” in their Mission Statement, their history belies a closer association with educators.

Begun in 1975 in London, England, and inspired by Henry Collis (then Director of the National Association of Gifted Children UK), the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children held its First International Conference for Gifted and Talented Children. In 1977, a seven member executive was first headed by Iraj Broomand of Iran. In 1979, a permanent Secretariat was established at the Teachers College, Columbia University in New York. (A full history may be found here.) Today the group publishes a newsletter, World Gifted, a journal, Gifted and Talented International (both available with membership; basic membership is $75US), and holds international biennial conferences. Their headquarters is located at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, KY, USA.

Why is this of interest to gifted parents? Information disseminated by the WCGTC is widely read and used by gifted educators and scholars around the world. The organization provides an inspirational gallery of gifted children on its website. Participation is such organizations can broaden resources for parent advocacy.

In a post last year, fellow blogger Gifted Phoenix suggested that the World Council should “update its approach to communication to encompass social networking and other online tools." Sounds good to me! The 21st century has become a brave new world when it comes to advocacy. All gifted organizations need to be networking with each other through social media and parents need to be joining with them to make their voices heard. Consider who is the greatest stakeholder in the gifted advocacy movement? (Hint: have a mirror handy.) Who should be the greatest beneficiary? (Answer: your child.)

Bold action and universal cooperation between organizations and parents is imperative if significant progress is to be made in gifted education. At this point in history, we cannot afford the forces of inertia to forfeit the future for our children.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Help Wanted: Seeking Highly Qualified GT Teacher

Okay. I know what you’re thinking. What’s the point … who has the luxury of looking for the best possible teacher for gifted students? Most parents are thankful just having a gifted teacher; and for many, even that is a stretch.

All parents want their children to have quality teachers, but what should parents of gifted children look for in their child’s teacher? Consider this … the gifted education program at your child’s school is only as good as its teachers.

There are certain qualities and qualifications that distinguish the best teachers of gifted students. Here is my ‘top ten’ list of things to look for in your child’s gifted teacher:

10) Highly intelligent, patient, empathetic, out-of-the-box thinker, and gt certified

 9)  Understands the social-emotional aspects of ‘giftedness’

 8)  Lifelong learner who is passionate about what they do

 7)  Seeks out learning opportunities and advocates for their students

 6)  Embraces technology as a teaching tool and understands the value of social media

 5)  Inspires their students; engenders a love of learning through modeling

 4)  Engages their students in the learning process

 3)  Facilitates learning through a variety of strategies such as Socratic teaching

 2)  Collaborates with their students; willing to have ideas questioned by students

 1)  Sees parents as partners

So maybe this is more than ten qualities, but you get the idea. If the personnel responsible for gifted education in your district are not supportive and passionate about what they do, you will have a sense of the quality of program being offered.

Another area to look at is how the school system supports their teachers. Do they require certification in gifted education for their gt teachers? Do they provide professional development in gifted education for all teachers? Is there a gifted education program in place at both the elementary and secondary level so that teachers can see a continuum of support for their efforts? Is there a genuine teacher evaluation system in place that can give teachers beneficial feedback on performance issues beyond student testing?

It’s a lot to consider and certainly more than most parents think they have the time to do. However, it is called responsibility and it is an important aspect of parenting that can’t be handed off to someone else. Just do it!