Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Supporting Your Child’s Gifted Teacher




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! 

14 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post, Lisa. It is SO important for parents to support the Gifted Ed teacher who can be feeling quite isolated and misunderstood even in their own school and who often go way beyond the call of duty in time spent and resources shared. Encouragement is vital!

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    1. Yes, Jo. I think we often criticize teachers we have problems with, but fail to support the good ones. Those teachers that I know through social media are some of the most dedicated people I've ever known.

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  2. I agree. Professional isolation is a huge issue for gifted education teachers, and for other specialists within education. Parental support means a great deal.

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    1. Exactly, Mary. This indeed includes many teachers in special education as well. Parents need to support good teachers.

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  3. Lisa I was just wondering whether you have any strategies/ideas for the following scenario. At the beginning of the year, a parent of a "newly assessed" gifted child decided that in the best interests of the child, she would tell the teacher that the child had been assessed as gifted so that the teacher would feel more inclined to accommodate the child. The teacher, new to the school, had told the parents that in his previous school he had been involved in the gifted program and so knew "all about gifted and the need to match ability with challenge." The parent felt that she was in safe hands. It has subsequently gone pear-shaped. The child is refusing to go to school (he's in grade 4) because he is being bullied by "peers" and has also described that the teacher "has a different person in his sights and he's picking us off, one kid at a time." The child now appears to be suffering from depression and says he has "no purpose." The mother feels betrayed by the teacher and let down by the school system. Apart from recommending that she get professional help with her son I am not sure what else to suggest. Can you suggest some strategies the parent might be able to use in her dealings with the school personnel in general and teacher in particular? Would much appreciate any ideas.

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    1. GiftEd, This is a sad situation, but I don't believe it is isolated. Because I am not a psychologist or school counselor, I hesitate to give specific advice. However, I did ask friends who have more experienced in this area. ;)

      Carolyn says: "I always recommend that parents talk to the school and teacher without giving away details... often you can get a totally different perspective that way. She might also want to "sound out" some of the other kids' parents, again without revealing her child's insights. If he's the only one reacting that way, it may indicate something else going on..."

      Mary says: "I think there are several issues at this point, although they began as one. Separating them somewhat may help, perhaps:

      1. The child appears to be depressed. This is a health issue with potentially serious consequences, and must be investigated. In this country, the family doctor is the first port of call. Information about emotional intensity and giftedness should also be considered, however, and shared with health professionals. Print something relevant. Highlight 1-2 brief key passages. Give it to the doctor/counsellor/psychologist/all of these.

      2. The child feels bullied. Find out the school policy if possible, and any pastoral care provision within the school, in the course of deciding what to do. I like Carolyn's approach to gathering information first.

      3. The teacher, while perhaps having some skills in gifted education, seems not to be the appropriate teacher for this child. Often best addressed through the principal.

      4. The parent feels let down by the system. This may improve if the steps above help, but joining an association for parents of gifted children can be a very important support, in this all-too-common experience."

      hth

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  4. What great advice for parents! It really is a two-way street and often gifted teachers are advocating for their kiddos, they just may not see it. It does mean a lot to be supported.

    NotJustChild'sPlay

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    1. Yes it does and teachers are no different. When you are fortunate enough to have a teacher who will advocate for your child, you need to work together.

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  5. This is a very informative blog.I was looking for these things and here I found it. I am doing a project on Supporting to Child.great advices for parents.

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    1. Happy to hear that you found the information of value!

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  6. ummm...our "gifted teacher" IS our "regular teacher".

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    1. Yes, I know that is the case in most places. Even where there are gifted teachers, children too often see them only part-time.

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  7. Now for those of you that have never heard of a Teachmeet, it is a bringing together of teachers with ideas.

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  8. Well sounds to be real inspiring post with pretty great guidelines.

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