Teaching the gifted student in general education
Look around the average general education classroom, and you’ll see a variety of students with different learning abilities.
Some of the most challenging students to teach, however, might not be the ones you think will be. The most challenging students are the ones who are identified as gifted.
Think about the gifted students in your classroom.
Gifted students are often the ones who finish their assignments first, leaving them lots of free time on their hands. They may also be the ones who argue about the purpose of the assignment before deciding to do it. Some gifted students who get done quickly may look for other diversions in the classroom due to boredom. Then these students create disruptions for everyone else in the classroom.
What’s the general education teacher to do?
Uninspiring teaching strategies
If you’re like most general education teachers, you turn to the teaching tools you have.
You may find yourself tempted to resort to practices like assigning additional work for students who finish quickly. You might consider having your gifted students with completed assignments peer-tutor their classmates. Don’t.
Experts like Carol Ann Tomlinson have identified several strategies less likely to promote learning among gifted students:
- Avoid asking to students to perform tasks they have already mastered. Gifted students recognize busy work for what it is.
- Don’t separate the gifted student from his or her peers regardless of mush you think the gifted student should work alone.
- Skip novelty (like games and puzzles) and focus on meaningful and relevant content that enriches at a deeply personal level.
Teaching strategies for the gifted learner
Good instruction meets the child where he or she is in the learning continuum and carries the student forward. If you have gifted students in your general education classroom, try these strategies.
- Gifted students often have a heightened awareness of the world around them. Take time to explore current events.
- Include gifted students in group work. Although the gifted learner is capable of working independently, this student needs opportunities to work and socialize with their peers.
- Match the pacing of your instruction to the needs of your gifted students. They will need less monitoring from you as they work ahead, but check in on their progress and understanding.
- Know who your students are. The answers in their interest surveys may help you to personalize lessons.
- Set deadlines. As talented as they are, gifted students need limitations. Without definitive boundaries, the gifted student will turn a simple report into a compendium with case studies, analyses, and cross -eferences. By letting the project get out of hand or insisting on perfection, they might not be able to complete it.
Keep in mind that a student who is gifted in one area might not be gifted in another. Exceptional talent in math does not always transfer to equally exceptional talent in writing, art, or science.
To learn more instructional strategies for working with gifted students in general education classrooms, visit organizations like the National Association for Gifted Children, where you can find out about professional development opportunities.
You may discover that you enjoy working with the gifted students in your general education classroom.