Parents often concentrate all their time advocating for their child. Isn’t that what parents should do? Sure, but I’m about to expand your job responsibilities. Listen carefully ~ parents of gifted children should also support their child’s gifted teacher.
Now I know what you’re going to say ~ What if the teacher does not support my child? First, it IS a two-way street; but things will go better for all involved if you take the first step. And if you have tried without good results … stop reading this post (not the blog, of course!) now. Second, for the purpose of this post, I am speaking specifically about your child’s ‘gifted’ teacher; not the regular education classroom teacher (though it wouldn’t hurt to support them as well).
Your next question may well be ~ Why? Believe it or not, gifted teachers often feel alone and isolated from the rest of the faculty. Far too often, general education teachers believe the same myths about gifted children and their education that the general population believes. To be fair, a vast majority of teachers are NEVER exposed to gifted education in undergraduate school or during professional development classes.
I hope your next question is ~ How? Why thank you for asking. Here are a few suggestions that will go a long, long way to developing a long-term beneficial relationship between you, your child and their teacher.
When the teacher goes ‘above and beyond’ such as arranging a field trip or doing a special project, make sure you tell the principal, superintendent and/or school board. When appropriate, offer to be a guest speaker about your work, mentor a student or offer to assist in coaching an academic school team. Offer words of encouragement when you become aware that the teacher isn’t getting the support they need from their school. Speak up in support of gifted education in your regular teacher-parent conferences and at school board meetings.
One of the best things you can do is to start a parent support group. Invite teachers, gifted teachers and administrators to attend monthly meetings. This has the added benefit of helping keep the lines of communication open. Often, school district personnel are more willing to share information at an informal meeting. It also allows them to get a sense of how parents feel about the gifted program.
No one likes to be taken for granted. Good gifted teachers work tirelessly to challenge your child and provide them with an education that leads them to reaching their full potential. This isn’t to say that there will be times when you are disappointed in a teacher, but when you are fortunate to find a great teacher ~ support them and watch your child soar!