We spend a lot of time as teachers planning lessons, ensuring that we cover the curriculum. We also juggle with target settings, target reviews, reports, parents’ evenings and behavior management. Why am I writing about behavior management will you say? Isn’t it about teaching gifted students? You’re right. But it’s actually about both, as you will generally find out that if you feed your gifted students with the challenges they need then some of your classroom behavior issues will disappear as by magic.
How do we recognize gifted children?
From a teacher’s perspective a gifted child is hard work, as these children need constant redirection. When you give them a task to achieve it usually takes them no more than 5 minutes to complete it while other students will probably need 10 minutes. Students who are intellectually gifted will present a set of common features like the ability to think in an abstract way at an early age, the need for constant intellectual stimulation, an ability to grasp complex information within minutes and a true desire to explore things in depth. No doubt that these children can easily be bored and frustrated. Even if the word gifted didn’t exist while I was at school I think I would probably today fall into that category. Yes, it’s true that your parents are proud of your academic results but in terms of behavior that’s another story. I remember that once I had decided that a subject was worth the interest I would put all my energy to study it, which gave some more homework for my teachers who had to correct my personal projects. Not to mention that I was a headache for all the teachers who couldn’t provide me with enough challenge. The only way I had back then to avoid distracting my peers because of my own boredom was to be given either a book to read or essays to write which I absolutely loved. Can you just imagine the frustration when you know that you can deal with a topic better than your friends but that you will have to stay the whole hour listening to endless repetition and games? Well, then imagine yourself stuck at the photocopier while you know that you can achieve much more? That’s what gifted children feel: Frustration, boredom, isolation and angriness every single day.
With gifted students we need to go beyond the curriculum. Have them to feel responsible for their own independent learning and try to use every opportunity to push these students. You will not harm them by giving them more opportunity for learning! Far from it. That’s what they want and need even if they will pretend the contrary. What may be difficult when you have gifted students is that one activity won’t necessarily work for all your gifted students. Gifted students are good at thinking so train them towards that direction; give them the tool they deserve to perform to the best of their abilities. Think out of the box; try to be creative. If you have gifted students and you’re not quite sure how to handle them try to find out in your school who’s in charge of the gifted and talented students. In most schools now there should be someone in charge who will be quite helpful to help you with these students.