As I teach the professional development seminars, I am amazed at how eager so many teachers are to truly serve the needs of their gifted students. It sometimes (like today) literally makes me choke up.
They amaze me. I teach all this training, though, and I feel like it’s just the tip of the iceberg of what they could know. So it may seem odd to write about the ONE THING I wish politicians, teachers, parents and gifted kids knew about gifted kids when there are so many possible things to know. I will try anyway. Here goes… My one piece of advice for each of the three groups.
I would like to apologize for all the bad things I’ve thought about you in the past. I probably should apologize for all the bad things I will think about you in the future (the very near future), but that might require not thinking them, so I’ll have to pass on that. What I would like you to know, most of all, is that it would be most beneficial if you would stop blaming teachers for all the ills in the educational world.
There are students and parents involved in this dynamic as well, but we never hear about that. How about paying parents depending on how their kids are doing in school? Like with a pro-rated sliding scale on the dependent tax deduction? You only get the full deduction if your child is passing all of his/her classes. I know this isn’t a specifically gifted child-focused comment, but the teachers can’t focus on the GT kids if they are worried that they will be fired if their low-performing kids don’t come to school and learn enough to pass the tests at the end of the year.
Please stop being scared about differentiation. It does not mean planning 30 different lessons for your students. If you have three sick children and they have to take different doses of their medicine, do you give them all the same anyway because it’s a hassle to figure out who gets what? Of course not! It’s essentially the same thing.
I know you’re busy. I know you’re overworked. I know you’re tired. I know things get thrown in your lap every day that really are beyond the scope of what you thought your job was. But while you’re thinking about how this whole teaching thing is just slightly overrated, remember that there are GT kids in your class who will never have another shot at this grade/class, and they need you to help them learn as much as they can as much as they need medicine when they’re sick.
Please remember that not every behavior problem is because your child is gifted. Please bear in mind that your child, no matter how gifted, must still behave in a way that enables him/her to function in a society that values manners and social niceties. I am not asking that you raise your child to be a conformist or wannabe Stepford Wife, but rather that you consider that to achieve to their fullest or even semi-fullest [Is that right? That doesn’t look right.] potential, our kids have to know the social norms.
I saved the best for last.
Well aren’t you the cat’s pajamas? You are smart. That’s very nice. It’s nice to be smart. It makes life a lot easier in a lot of ways. You can , for instance, come up with wonderful ways to spend your time that other people would never think of (making chess sets out of dried toothpaste and old cereal boxes, for example). You can, when prodded, perform amazing feats of cerebral gymnastics that amaze and astound your family and friends.
Please keep in mind this one thing: shun pride. Cultivate humility and you will be far more effective in your personal and professional life. As smart as you are, there is a strong likelihood that there is someone smarter.
The best way to stay humble? Serve others. You will then see how richly blessed you are, and you will come to realize that the only truly noble use of your gift is to try to make your world a better place. I believe it is a better place because you are in it. Prove me right.