Whether you've been with us from the start - or if today you are visiting for the first time - thank you so much for joining us! We'd love to have you comment here with your thoughts, or - even better! - write about this chapter on your own blog and link up with us at the bottom of this post so that we can come visit YOU!
Today we focus on Chapter 7, in which the author addresses the question, "Can gifted education and a growth mindset belief coexist?" Ricci writes that identifying - or labeling - a student as GT may do more harm than good unless the teacher's goal (and that of the school and district) "is to develop an instructional philosophy that addresses the needs of our most advanced learners while at the same time allowing access to instruction to all learners" (page 95).
This chapter is of greatest interest to me, because my background is in Gifted education. I started as a pullout program teacher in the early 1990s, and although I taught in a variety of situations over the decades, I returned to the Gifted classroom and finished out my last few years teaching self-contained Third Grade until retiring. I read the chapter from that perspective, and I will be interested in seeing what other teachers' thoughts are from their own unique and varying experiences.
To tell you the truth, I entered the chapter with the prejudice that the author was going to say we do not need Gifted education. But as I read and re-read her opinions, examined the ample research and anecdotal evidence she presented, and applied it all to my own experience, I realized that Ricci is actually presenting a philosophy of Gifted education that will benefit all students - including the Gifted kids.
Here is an overview of my take-aways from this chapter. You can click on the image to download a pdf version for easy reference:
Like most of us, I like to reflect on what I'm reading in professional development by applying it to my own practice. Here are some of my own thoughts and experiences as they relate to what Ricci writes about:
IdentificationIt's so important that we never inadvertently exclude any student from maximizing his or her potential! In Gifted education, careful thought must be given to how we identify students. Do the instruments and methods we use to identify Gifted students take into account cultural backgrounds? How about the possibility of dyslexia, ADHD, or communication impairments - or other ways that might interfere with how the student performs on a traditional assessment?
I've always worked in districts where the CoGAT (Cognitive Abilities Test) was the primary instrument used to identify children. But thankfully, we have always included additional measures to accommodate students who may not use English as the primary language at home, or who may have other hurdles that might obscure talents and strengths on traditional assessments. Outside testing results are also accepted on a list of approved instruments, expanding possibilities for students who may not typically perform optimally in the school setting.
An area for improvement would be blanket evaluation of all students. I've always worried that there are students who are overlooked because a parent or teacher did not recommend him/her for evaluation.
Multiple IntelligencesTraditionally the areas looked at for Gifted identification are those most closely resembling what is considered academic in the classroom: verbal, quantitative, and (less easily defined by many) non-verbal.
I was blessed with the opportunity to work in a charter school years ago that based their charter on Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences. The best part of this experience was the awesome training I received, including conferences with leaders in the field. And the most lasting impact this had on my practice was to honor each child for his/her unique strengths - indeed, gifts.
I love this quotation, most often attributed to Albert Einstein (for the record, the origin of this proverb is not fully known):
The TakeawayIt should NOT be about identifying Gifted kids just so that we can pull them out of the crowd.
It should be ALL ABOUT honoring what exists inherently - uniquely - in every child that can be nurtured and developed.
It is about believing that every child has some special spark that will eventually impact the world in a positive way, and that our role as educators is to help the child discover and nurture that spark.
Ultimately, I found that my initial prejudice was unfounded.
Ricci's thoughts on how Gifted education ideally inspires, nurtures, and develops the very best in ALL learners through a growth mindset provided me with a lot of food for thought... and left me with the happy validation that many of us are indeed practicing this in our classrooms.
What were your thoughts on this chapter?
Please share in the comments below, or link up with us to share your blog post!