Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Who Should Teach Gifted Education?





Is it fair to ask regular education teachers to teach gifted education? The question is both simple and complicated at the same time. The variables are as great as the number of teachers teaching.
   
Let’s go with the simple answer first. No. No, it is not fair. It is not fair to the teacher and it is not fair to the gifted student.
   
In his recent article, “Do We Know How to Teach Highly Able Learners”, Peter DeWitt states, “I often wonder if highly able learners are snubbed because teachers are unclear on how to challenge them. Given high stakes testing woes, increased responsibilities and higher class sizes, some teachers are burned out and cannot meet the needs of most gifted learners. So instead of finding something new, they give more of the same.”

I don’t wonder at all. If you’re going to teach students who have been identified as {{insert applicable word of choice for ‘gifted’}}, then you should at the very least be certified to teach gifted education. Now, before those of you who are teachers grab your mouse to send me a “who do you think you are questioning the teaching profession” email or parents poised to give me a round of applause … step away from your computers and sit down in your seats.

Here’s a reality check for everyone involved … education isn’t what it used to be. It has lost its way. It has been standardized in a world filled with children who are anything but standard. Who among you would say that your child is like everyone else’s; run of the mill? When did we forget the difference between equality and equity? Whose potential must be realized and whose potential is pushed to the side?

So … who should teach your child? If your school started hiring its teachers from the general populace … people with non-education degrees or no degree at all … there would be an uproar from the public! Why then are highly-abled children expected to be taught by someone without any background in gifted education? Why should we expect a teacher who has been trained in elementary education to be differentiating for someone who may need instruction in calculus?

It’s not easy being a teacher today. It’s especially difficult to teach in a school district with shrinking budgets, no professional development, and a lack of technology. How many parents would like to be judged and potentially punished for whether or not their children succeed or fail in life? Most teachers I know are dedicated professionals, but there are not enough hours in a day to adequately meet the needs of every single child … even with technology … in a classroom spanning 6 or more years of ability.



There are many ways to achieve an equitable education for your gifted child. Look for schools that require gifted education certification and provide a program specific to gifted children. When this is not available, research alternative education opportunities; many of which I have already written about in this blog. Should your child find themselves in a ‘full inclusion’ classroom, share information with their teacher about instructional strategies for gifted children. My blog post on the topic can be found here.

Who should teach gifted education? Hopefully, this post has made you contemplate the options and inspired you to become pro-active in advocating for an appropriate and high quality education for your child.


8 comments:

  1. I am in PA. There is no state certification for gifted ed. I know of two colleges that offer certificate or masters programs in gifted, but most colleges hardly touch on the needs of the gifted learner.

    I have been a teacher for 22 years. I have taught our gifted program for 14. I was asked to teach the program because I was flexible, creative, and interested in learning new things myself.

    If you live in an area that does not require gifted certification, look for someone who is open to new ideas and understands that sometimes the students are smarter than the teacher!

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    1. Hi, Mim,

      I,too, live in PA and realize that the state does not require certification. However, I do know teachers who became certified for various reasons. This has been a real concern of mine for many years.

      I totally agree that parents need to look for a teacher who is empathetic at the very least to gifted education.

      Thank you,
      Lisa

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  2. I agree completely.

    http://llwcontemplations.blogspot.com/2012/05/teachers-cant-do-it-all.html

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  3. Just sharing our experience here- even if you find a GATE (Gifted and Talented Environment Environment) program in your school district, it doesn't mean that you don't encounter problems. My DS11 has been in GATE programs where the teacher has various levels of gifted, bright, and hardworking kids so the span of levels still made it difficult for the teacher to be effective. State testing was the focus and this leaves little time for the teacher to differentiate fully. The teachers who had a masters in gifted ed., who were themselves gifted and had gifted children were the ones who my son really enjoyed and clicked with which I feel is so important.

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  4. You wrote: "So … who should teach your child? If your school started hiring its teachers from the general populace … people with non-education degrees or no degree at all … there would be an uproar from the public! Why then are highly-abled children expected to be taught by someone without any background in gifted education? Why should we expect a teacher who has been trained in elementary education to be differentiating for someone who may need instruction in calculus?"

    People use that claim to decry homeschooling, too. But here's why it's different: when you have a single teacher in a classroom with 30 kids, that's a very different situation from a single (or a few) child(ren) with parents & a variety of external teachers, mentors, and other resources. Teachers don't have the same range of options nor the freedom that homeschoolers do.

    I know that you are supportive of homeschooling - but since that is one of those myths - that parents shouldn't homeschool because they aren't trained - I thought I'd just throw that out there anyway :-)

    It's also worth noting that homeschool parents of gifted kids do a huge amount of research into their children's needs, whereas the typical classroom teacher doesn't have the time nor possibly see the necessity.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

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  5. Corin,

    Yes, I am a strong supporter of homeschooling; in particular, homeschooling gifted children. I believe parents of gifted children are highly qualified to teach their children ... to nurture nature.

    Lisa

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  6. to be a teacher is not a matter of joke. one person needs to be dedicated in order to be a teacher. generally lots of people think after being a teacher he does not need to study but i think if you want to be a good teacher you need to study more than a student. what do you think?

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  7. Thanks for the post. I love reading all of the updates since I am currently working towards my PA teaching certification.

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