Thinking Teaching Creating

Thoughts, Tips, Ideas, and Projects from a Creative Teacher Mama

Don’t Forget Your Gifted Students; They Need Their Teacher Too

Sometimes, it’s difficult to remember that your gifted students need your attention too.  I’ve been guilty of it myself.

In a classroom of 20+ students where nearly half are either below grade level or just making it by the skin of their teeth, it’s easy to put all of your time into helping those children while your gifted (and high achieving) students get put on the back burner.  I’ve been there.  It’s hard.  You’re expected to get as many students as possible to meet a certain standard, and there are 2 students who have already met next year’s standard by October.

I was in a meeting where a literacy facilitator at a school where I worked said to my grade level team these exact words, “Your high fliers don’t need any help.  They’re fine already, let’s focus on these kids that are below grade level.”

That was the catalyst for me to look for another job, because the open opinions of people who are in charge or provide the training set the culture of the school.  I couldn’t be at a school where the attitude was that gifted and high achieving students didn’t need instruction.

Things To Keep In Mind

  • Every child deserves to learn and grow, every day.
  • Another page of practice problems on a skill that has already been proven to be mastered is not helpful.
  • This method of curriculum planning is amazing.  For each skill or concept, determine what kids absolutely need to know, what they probably should know, and what it would be nice if they knew.  I’ve been doing it for years, but never thought of it with this type of visual before.  Thank you Geoff at Emergent Math for putting it into such an elegant visual explanation.  It’s a lovely way to plan ahead for the kids who either catch on very quickly or already know the basics when you start a concept rather than scrambling when you realize that one kid already mastered this skill last year, while also setting a minimum standard for your lower performing students.
  • Remember that the standards are minimum expectations; going deeper or wider pushes your gifted and high achieving students.  These student often start thinking very early on their school career that school is supposed to be easy, and are in danger of not knowing how to persevere, learn from mistakes, or pick themselves up to try again after failing.  These are important skills to be successful in life!  Guide them through those skills early and often.  I’ve had first graders cry because it was the first time they didn’t know the right answer immediately, and they didn’t know how to handle it.  Thank goodness they experienced that in first grade, not their freshman year of college.
  • If there is a student who didn’t learn anything in your classroom because he already knew it all, that’s just as bad as having a below grade level student who didn’t learn anything because you didn’t meet him where he was.
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