The role of the gifted teacher in middle school requires interest, energy, and flexibility in teaching the students, collaborating with teachers, and communicating/supporting parents. I often start my Back to School Night parent meeting with my ‘resume’: “I was in the gifted program as a student; I married one; and I birthed one.” The ice is broken and we are all now on the same page – a family if you will. Chapter 4 does an excellent job of mapping out the characteristics as well as the challenges the gifted teacher of middle school students’ face. To support my “resume” point, “Although not often explicitly stated, in my experience, those who work most successfully with gifted learners are particularly bright themselves, perhaps even gifted.”(Kindle location 1676). In addition to the teacher’s “passion for learning,” the educator of the gifted must be able to “relate to the personality characteristics of gifted and advanced children and adolescents.” (Kindle location 1683). The second role is one of counselor. From my experience, the middle school student is more sensitive than other ages. To compound that with gifted characteristics, the teacher must be hyper aware of exactly how messages are delivered so as to not “crush” or devastate the student. “Realistically, the counseling needs of gifted middle school students are met by their gifted teacher.” (Kindle location 1721) Often, the hardest lesson to teach is how to work and play well with others. While the GT student is certainly less than 1% of the population, they must live and work in a 99% world. “[The] teacher/counselors help gifted students embrace and cope with their differences at a time when pressure for conformity seems to be at its most intense.” (Kindle location 1721) Additionally, the teacher of the gifted has a role to support and educate the parents of their students. While the middle school person can change in seconds from child to adult and back again, the parent doesn’t realize those changes mean their “baby” is growing up. The growing up process includes questioning parental controls and decisions. This is normal to question and to be somewhat non-compliant. The adolescent is seeking their own path – troublesome for parents! The gifted child may not experience these normal adolescent changes on the same timeline as their peers, so that can add to the frustration of the parent. “So, another responsibility for the middle school gifted intervention specialist [teacher] is that of parent education. The social, emotional, and academic challenges of early adolescence often take parents of gifted teens by surprise.” (Kindle location 1882). Finally, the most important role for GT teachers is one of advocacy. To advocate for students, and for GT standards and curriculum. To provide resources that encourage parents to be advocates for gifted education as well as for students to learn to be their own advocates as they further their education. “. . . parents of gifted student must be encourage to be involved and advocate for their children during middle school.” (Kindle location 1892). I have a suggested reading list as well as books to loan to students and parents that help with understanding the gifted person and all its celebrations and pitfalls. I encourage every parent to join TAGT. I readily have articles available from TAGT publications for Back to School Night and parent conferences.
I agree with Eleanor's statement about teaching the students to become self-advocates despite the pressure to conform. (PV)
L. HowardThe role of a teacher of gifted students at the middle school level should include a strong commitment to the children he/she has been entrusted. Such a teacher dedicates their time and efforts to planning targeted instruction, activities, and projects that will challenge and encourage our gifted students to continually grow. Wendel and Heiser observed qualities of teachers of the gifted students and found "that in creative ways, these teachers demanded high quality work, used a sense of humor to demonstrate caring and respect for students, and emphasized the student's personal involvement." (Kindle location 1667). Also, we need to provide our students with support that will help them face the challenges that they face, especially dealing with others that may not appreciate their unique gifts. "Teacher/counselors help gifted students embrace and cope with their differences at a time when pressure for conformity seems to be at its most intense. " (Kindle location 1724). Our students need to know that we trust them as they take risks to try new endeavors and that we celebrate their differences.
In response to travelingbug on July 17th, I believe that it is important to teacher to realize that we have been entrusted with these students. I like that you use that term, because it means that we have a responsibility to them. I also agree that we are to provide them with support, because they will face hardships and challenging situations in which other people may not understand their gifts, and our support becomes very important.
The role of a teacher of gifted students in middle school is one that requires many "hats" to be worn every single day. They must be caring and understanding to the specific needs of a gifted student, have a great sense of humor, obviously be an expert in their subject, and be patient. (p. 83) Teachers of gifted students have great expectations, Wendel and Hiser -1989 "... found that in creative ways, these teachers demanded high quality work, used a sense of humor to demonstrate caring and respect for the students, and emphasized the students' personal involvement in learning." (p. 84) The book emphasizes that many skills of used to teach "on level" students are transferable to the gifted classroom, however the gifted students will require much more, so more will need to be offered. For example, a gifted student will often question everything. They often find joy in catching a teacher in a mistake, the book points out that "... the ability to respond confidently to the challenges and questioning of gifted students without defensiveness, are significant traits for teachers of the gifted." (p.84) Often teachers of gifted students must also act as counselors when dealing with issues that arise between students or parents. A gifted student can pick up on verbal and nonverbal cues much quicker than other students can, therefore in my opinion one of the important traits that a teacher of gifted students must have is a caring heart for their kids. - Ryan Harvey
I agree with Mr. Harvey that the teacher of gifted students require many hats to be worn. Not only do we have to have excellent content knowledge but we must be both caring understanding, have a sense of humor and great contact with the parents. As Mr. Harvey stated, I do believe that some gifted students like to ask a lot of questions on a subject to see if they can catch a mistake by the teacher. I tell my students from the beginning that I do not know everything there is to know about science. I also tell them that I make mistakes everyday. That this is the only way we grow to become better at what we do. This sometimes throws them off guard because they do not believe that they will make a mistake. This is when the role of teacher/counselor is much needed.
In response to Mr. Harvey on July 14th- I agree with you that teachers must wear many hats in order to run a successful classroom. Being a teacher requires much kindness and caring of all students. Students will excel if they feel cared about and knowing that their teacher cares about them and the curriculum being taught.
I like Laura's openness with her students in "letting them know from the beginning that she does not know everything about science". Because of how GT kids are wired, some have this innate need for in-depth exploration thus the 101 questions. Some teachers may regard this as a form of questioning authority but it is their way of making connections and establishing relevance for themselves. (PV)
The role of the gifted teacher takes on many spectrums. As stated on page 80, people most often believe that a gifted student is well behaved and self motivated. Because this is not true in all circumstances gifted teachers need to be able to nurture the learning and socialization of gifted students. This means not only meeting their academic needs but all their social/emotional needs. As stated on page 86, direct student contact should be structured so that teachers and students build a close relationship that will allow the teacher to provide guidance and advocacy. Teachers of gifted students then take on a counselor role. This counselor role can also help with being a buffer between students and their parents. Not all parents realize that their gifted children go through the same social/emotional roles as regular academic students. At an intellectual point gifted students may be higher than academic students but could also be lower when it comes to emotional needs being met. This is why it is important for a gifted teacher to be able to identify and connect with their students. As stated on page 95...the social, emotional and academic challenges of early adolescence can take parents by surprise. The teacher should be able to help parents through these times by have close contact with the parents, guiding them about outside school education/summer programs and basically be the gifted students advocate.
I agree with Laura's statement on July 16th, the connection between teacher and student is important however the connection between the teacher and parents is also equally important. This allows us as a team to help the student in multiple ways that will not only help them throughout the school year but also in the future.
The role of a gifted teacher is many things, and I believe it was said best as, "the intense and dynamic balancing act of providing instruction, guidance, and advocacy." (p. 80) The first of the three main roles is providing instruction. This means that a gifted teacher must be a life-long learner themselves, so that they may stay engaged in finding the most fitting lessons for their group of students. Through instruction in the classroom, the teacher should communicate with each student, when possible, to help foster and "build a relationship that will help the teacher provide appropriate guidance and advocacy." (p. 86) Because many people are not informed about the unique qualities of gifted students, oftentimes, even a counselor cannot offer these students the best guidance, and the gifted teacher is the one who may need to step in and offer "strategies to help students understand their uniqueness... and plan for their future." (p. 86-7) The third main role of the gifted teacher is advocacy. This means that as the gifted teacher, you should be the one "to speak out on their behalf, (p. 96) whether that is to their parents, other teachers, administrators, etc. because you understand them best. There are many other qualities that make up the gifted teacher and many other roles that they play, but these three are all vital to our gifted students being successful inside and outside of the classroom.
The role of a gifted students measures to many things. Some of them include advisory, warm learning community, governance, participating on teams and compassion. Teacher qualities plays a big part in instrumenting guidance that will help all personality traits. On page 80-84 the book really sums up how important a teachers role is in the classroom along with g/t students. Middle school children are going through much changes and a teachers role will have a huge impact on their outcomes toward a successful learning environment.
I like to consider my role as that of a Ringmaster. We have so many activities going on in the classroom that I move around from station to station. “Expertise in differentiation of curricula and instruction for gifted, talented, and advanced learners. Involved in ongoing self-directed professional development, as well as the capability to conduct staff development sessions within the school and district.” (Rakow 2011 p. 82) We don’t have the luxury of being able to pull the same file out and just “winging it”. Our students know when we are less than enthusiastic about our topic, and they respond. But it goes beyond academics, we are also Dad, friend, coach, etc. Our kiddos get really intense about a topic or issue and we need to be that ear. Having taught GT kids for the past 16 years, as well as living with one, it gives me a different perspective on kids. Currently in my house my son’s obsession is Pokemon. Just like all GT kids, they expect you to know as much about this as they do.
First I will cite items from table 4 on page 82. “A strong conceptual grasp of and advanced coursework in two academic disciplines that can support interdisciplinary curricula and instruction.” To me this creates a teacher that not only knows their content but can also help bridge the thought processes to other contents as well. Thus creating lessons that challenge students to see beyond just ELA or just Science and see concepts as a whole with many facets. This can also include music and art in ways that makes simple lessons more complex. Creating a teacher role of presenting questions that could lead to individual exploration and knowing if they are connected. – Overseer NOT provider/doerNext page 83, “a genuine interest and liking of middle school students; value working with this age and willingness and ability to act as advocates.” This one is one of the most important especially after what was read in the first section. This students need a voice that is heard throughout the school as being important. – Advocate“Sensitive to individual difference; supportive and responsive to diversity.” This is very important in the middle school setting when social interactions are viewed as the most important thing for students. At times, I even have students ‘ducking’ into class so their friends do not know that they are in the gifted class. We need to be aware of the struggles being labeled gifted have on the students and support them whenever we can. – Caring“Flexible” and “Sense of Humor”. These are important roles of the teacher for the students to see that we are in fact human. We have issues come up that require attention and the hope that our friends/boss/co-workers will be flexible with us. We also have stress or other events in our lives that are funny and by laughing we share and create a room that is nurturing those in it to be free themselves. – IndividualsAll of these need to be present within the teacher in order to create what role the gifted teacher plays.
I believe that middle school teachers of GT students need to be advocates and supporters. This entails recognizing and understanding the idiosyncrasies of this population and guiding them as they navigate the world that is "middle school". These teachers need to promote a challenging environment academically and help the kids become integrated in their environment for their socio-emotional development. In addition, they will also serve as resources to parents/families. (PV)