Elise Santorella 17 Nov, 2011 4th Period Mrs. Corbett In any given classroom, there is a wide range of intelligences in the students. Manyteachers find it particularly hard to teach gifted children, as they are easily bored with materialthat satisfies the needs of the other students. The primary challenges that teachers face withgifted students in the classroom are overcrowding, school policy, social difficulties, ethnicity,and the classroom dynamic. Overcrowding is a large problem in many public schools across America. As populationdensity continues to increase, especially in urban areas, class sizes and zoning laws do notaccommodate the large influx of students. Many teachers find this overwhelming number ofstudents daunting not because of the numbers, but because of the range of intelligences that willbe found inside their classroom. “General education teachers are the primary caregivers in thesefull-inclusion classrooms, but their load and the classroom responsibilities have alreadyincreased with the additional….crowding in already crowded regular-education classrooms”(Callard-Szulgit xiv). This becomes especially problematic with the introduction of specialeducation students in the classroom, with budget cuts and the firing of many paraprofessionalsMany teachers of „full-inclusion‟ classes feel overwhelmed because they may have to tailor theirlesson plan to the pace of the slower students or even have multiple lesson plans. This can resultin gifted children developing apathy towards schoolwork, which can hurt them in their middleand high school years. Many gifted children, if not placed in a gifted classroom, will fall into thecategory of the „gifted underachiever‟ (Winebrenner 2). This means, simply, that gifted childrenwill find average schoolwork to be tiresome and stop doing it altogether. This is common in
many full-inclusion classrooms and is more prevalent with the introduction of No Child LeftBehind in 2001. For this reason, many schools make decisions to accelerate gifted students. Thiskeeps the gifted students in a classroom setting, providing them with the same social skills astheir peers. Likewise, some schools choose to provide them with options to skip grades or takemore intellectually appealing outreach classes. These classes provide gifted students time tosocialize with people of their own intellect and explore things not covered in the normalcurriculum. This provides gifted students with the fulfillment they require to maintain an interestin school. Social difficulties are very common within the population of gifted students. Childrenthat start developing early will, as with their studies, feel out of place and bored with thepopulation of students in a full-inclusion classroom. “A moderately gifted nine-year-old with amental age of 12 and thus an IQ of approximately 133 is „out of synch‟ by a matter of three yearsbefore he has even passed elementary school….his exceptionally gifted age-mate with a mentalage of 15 and an IQ of approximately 167 looks across a chasm of six years” (Gross 7). Whilethis is true academically, it can be even more problematic socially, especially in the early stagesof development. In several cases, gifted children in their elementary years, especially boys,become violently frustrated and are mistaken for having social phobias or even disabilities. Thisleads to gross misdiagnosis and the reverse of help for gifted students: being put in a specialeducation program. Assuming the students are not aggressive, they still may face alienation orvoluntary isolation from their non-gifted peers. Also, this could lead to damage to the psyche,altering their expectations for themselves based on what the other students think. “Thesekids….have learned to resist challenging work. They fear that others will think they are not sosmart if they have to work to get good grades” (Winebrenner 4). This thought process is very
common in gifted students and comes as its own form of peer pressure. This can lead todifficulties in the middle or high school years either due to undue pressure or unwillingness toembrace a challenge. Schools are limited to certain protocols when dealing with out-of-the-ordinary children,whether they are special needs or exceptionally gifted. Unfortunately, in public schools, thisusually means that the gifted must figuratively drag their feet and keep pace with the slowerstudents. In the specific case of one child, “the school would not permit him to do anything thatcould not be undertaken by his classmates” (Gross 2). While this provides frustration anddisinterest in the student, it can also be damaging to their opinion of school. The child describedended up dropping out of school after only two weeks and was enrolled in a private institution.Gifted children in full-inclusion classrooms tend to dislike school and not try hard at it, asdescribed earlier. While stressful on the students, school policies can also be stressful on teacherstoo. “Not only did this student….a specialist in gifted education” (Callard-Szulgit x). Teacherssuch as Ms. Callard-Szulgit are qualified to teach the gifted and are placed in full-inclusionclassrooms with behaviorally disturbed and disabled students. This greatly impairs the learningprocess in the classroom and makes any kind of special attention impossible. School systems,however, are very adamant in their policies and no changes to this problem can be foreseen. It is important to focus on the individual gifts and strengths that gifted children possess.Every student is different and teachers and parents are encouraged to nurture the special talentsthat a child may have. “1. View each child as a precious gift….that supports growth ofeveryone.” (Cohen 136) Gifted children should be encouraged to seek hobbies and interestsoutside of the classroom for a more enriching extracurricular experience. Activities can includesports, academic quiz bowls, nature walks, or mind games, such as chess. Many gifted children,
while content to isolate themselves, need the social interaction of group activities to developproper social skills. Another behavior that fosters good social skills is regular counseling. “5.Offer mediation, counseling, mentoring and facilitation from caring adults to optimize potentialand develop ethical citizens” (Cohen 137). Mentoring and counseling can take the form ofenrichment activities outside of the classroom or regular meetings of gifted students in a socialgroup. These enrichment activities can foster good social skills and also provide a creative,productive outlet for the gifted children stuck in an on-level or full-inclusion class. There are many stereotypes associated with typical children. Many gifted children are at aslight disadvantage because of their ethnicity, gender, disability, or any combination or thosecharacteristics. It is important for educators to treat all of their students equally regardless of raceor gender. “Culturally competent educators….relationships with minority groups” (Ford). Someteachers can undermine students of different ethnicities by making the assumption that they arenot gifted. However, the percentage of gifted students is equal in all groups and therefore, eachchild should be treated with the same respect. Along with ethnicity come languages, mannerisms,and other distinct behaviors. It is important to be conscientious of these mannerisms and findways to achieve a middle-ground between social acceptance and cultural diversity. “Culturallyresponsive teachers….a non-standard English” (Ford). Disabled students can also be isolated,though they may only be physically handicapped. This creates self-esteem problems and cancreate an unfriendly environment in the classroom. Some students may be patronized for theircustoms and ways, but it is the educator‟s job to create an area of acceptance in the classroomand to educate and inform their students of different ethnicities, disabilities or backgrounds. The student-teacher dynamic is also an important element in the classroom. Undernormal circumstances, students need to not only acknowledge the teacher as the superior, but
also as a resource. However, with gifted children, the intellectual roles of student and teacher arenot entirely clear sometimes. “What this means is that the “student–teacher” relation can nolonger be structured according to the logic of interaction between object and subject, because thestudent and the teacher now act in the role of equal partners with respect to one another,associates (which is to say, subjects) in terms of their joint activity in the educational, teaching,and upbringing process [SIC]” (Panov 76). Teachers must learn to project the idea that they wantto achieve the same goals of the student and help them to achieve those goals. If the teacher istoo domineering, the student will not be brave enough to ask for help when she needs it.Therefore, while maintaining some premise of authority, the teacher must cooperate with thestudent on a common level. This will promote good communication between the teacher andstudent and will provide a comfortable and productive work environment for the student. Gifted children are found at an approximately 1:6 ratio to average students. (Gross 7) Forthat reason, teachers must find ways to accommodate gifted students in the classroom; whetherby drastic or subtle measures. Overcrowding and restrictive school policies can impair teachersfrom giving gifted students the extra attention they need. Teachers must also stay aware of thefact that not every child comes from the same background and some accommodations may beneeded. Gifted children in an inclusion classroom may feel out of place, as they are more maturethan their peers. If enrichment activities are provided, this creates a more accepting environment.Of course, along with these facts is the dilemma of effectively teaching the material to everystudent, not just the gifted. With the proper communications between teacher and student, thiscan be dealt with handily. Gifted children are a very important part of every classroom andshould be taught in an enriching way that promotes intellectual growth.
Works CitedCallard-Szulgit, Rosemary. Teaching the Gifted in an Inclusion Classroom: Activities that Work. N.p.: R&L Education, 2005. Google Book Search. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://books.google.com/ ebooks?id=QMTUQhtqf2MC&as_brr=5>.Cheung, Hoi Yan, and Sammy King Fai Hui. “Competencies and Characteristics for Teaching Gifted Students: A Comparative Study of Beijing and Hong Kong Teachers.” Gifted Child Quarterly 55.2 (2011): 139-148. Academic Complete. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://proxygsu- sche.galileo.usg.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=59474976&site=ehost-live>.Cohen, Leonora M. “Simplicity in complex times: Six principles for teaching the gifted.” Psicología 29.1 (2011): 131-151. Academic Complete. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://proxygsu- sche.galileo.usg.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=64466746&site=ehost-live>.Coleman, Laurence J. “Gifted-Child Pedagogy: Meaningful Chimera?” Roeper Review 25.4 (2003): 163- 165. Academic Complete. Web. 14 Oct. 2011. <http://proxygsu-sche.galileo.usg.edu/ login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=10445190&site=ehost-live>.Distin, Kate. Gifted children: A Guide for Parents and Professionals. Ed. Kate Distin. Illustrated ed. N.p.: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2006. Google Book Search. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://books.google.com/ ebooks?id=gQAbiuia2AUC&dq=teaching%20gifted%20children&as_brr=5&source=webstore_bo okcard>.
Ford, Donna Y, and Michelle Frazier Trotman. “Teachers of Gifted Students: Suggested Multicultural Characteristics and Competencies.” Roeper Review 23.4 (2001): 235-240. Abstract. Academic Complete. Web. 14 Oct. 2011. <http://proxygsu-sche.galileo.usg.edu/ login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=5025588&site=ehost-live>.Gross, Miraca U. M. Exceptionally Gifted Children. 2, Illustrated ed. N.p.: Psychology Press, 2004. Google Book Search. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://books.google.com/ ebooks?id=XrTMykLlDfkC&dq=teaching+gifted+children&as_brr=5>.Panov, V I. “Gifted Children.” Russian Education and Society 44.10 (2002): 52-80. Academic Complete. Web. 14 Oct. 2011. <http://proxygsu-sche.galileo.usg.edu/ login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=8700266&site=ehost-live>.Robinson, Wendy, and R. J. Campbell. Effective Teaching in Gifted Education: Using a Whole School Approach. Illustrated ed. N.p.: Taylor and Francis, 2010. Google Book Search. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://books.google.com/ ebooks?id=anMGZYoYfsEC&dq=teaching%20gifted%20children&as_brr=5&source=webstore_bo okcard>.Sternberg, Robert J, and Pamela R Clinkenbeard. “The triarchic model applied to identifying, teaching, and assessing gifted children.” Roeper Review 17.4 (1995): 255-261. Academic Complete. Web. 14 Oct. 2011. <http://proxygsu-sche.galileo.usg.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=9507105981&site=ehost-live>.
Sumida, Manabu. “Identifying Twice-Exceptional Children and Three Gifted Styles in the Japanese Science Primary Classroom .” International Journal of Science Education 32.15 (2010): 2097- 2112. Abstract. Academic Complete. Web. 14 Oct. 2011. <http://proxygsu-sche.galileo.usg.edu/ login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=53787845&site=ehost-live>.Winebrenner, Susan. Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom: Strategies and Techniques Every Teacher Can Use to Meet the Academic Needs of the Gifted and Talented. Ed. Pamela Espeland. Revised ed. N.p.: Free Spirit Publishing, 2009. Google Book Search. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://books.google.com/ebooks?id=G1n- uCl_e7IC&dq=teaching%20gifted%20children&as_brr=5&source=webstore_bookcard>.