Differentiation is one of the most important factors in providing quality education to all students. This is particularly important for students who fall into the Gifted and Talented category. These students are often capable of learning at accelerated rates, delving deeper into content topics, and synthesizing information more readily. That said, they also face challenges and require an academic environment that will embrace their status as gifted.
There are a number of characteristics that define a gifted student, and methods that will help provide an enriching learning environment for them.
Gifted students tend to ask questions.
Because they are likely to grasp concepts more quickly, gifted students are also prone to asking questions. If a particular topic interests them, they will often dig into it, sometimes disregarding other topics entirely. These students want to understand their world, and the best way to do that comes from asking questions and investigating their answers.
To guide these students effectively, following an academic strategy around inquiry is helpful. Engaging students in the process of understanding, and encouraging them to dig into these questions and share their findings is a great way to reinforce their knowledge. It also allows these students the freedom to pursue their interests.
Gifted students are not perfect students
A common misconception around Gifted and Talented students is that they are the “smart” students who will never cause disruptions, fail to do their work, or struggle with a topic. This is simply not true. Gifted students, like all students, have areas of strength and weakness as well as interest and disinterest. In fact, when lessons tend towards the surface level, it’s likely a gifted student will become bored and less interested in completing the work or fully grasping the concept.
To avoid this, revisit your gifted student’s learning goals often. Ensure they are able to actively participate in the learning process, and if they are working ahead of their peers, give them a chance to step into the teacher role, synthesize further, or find practical applications for their learning.
Some gifted students may tend towards perfection, while others struggle to focus
While gifted students and high achieving students are not the same, often students find themselves in both categories. These students may find it particularly difficult to fail. They strive for the perfect grade, the perfect result, and the perfect understanding. It’s a difficult lesson for a gifted, high achieving student to learn: Perfection is not always the answer. In fact, often our greatest moments of learning come from our failures.
To help gifted students overcome a fear of failure, promote a growth mindset within your learning environment. Present examples and situations where failure is part of the process, rather than a punishment. Allow gifted students to practice failing in a controlled environment.
On the other hand, a gifted student who is not a high achiever may grow bored and restless with the content. If this happens, they may become disengaged. These students are less focused on perfection and more focused on understanding why a topic matters. If they can’t find a reason to care, they may find it difficult to complete assignments or pay attention, preferring to pursue personal interests. If this is the case, it’s worth spending time with the student in an individualized environment and finding new ways to spark an interest in the topic.
Gifted students are just students
Students are students, and they come with a wonderful variety of personalities, strengths, goals, learning styles, and values. Gifted students come with their own set of needs, but at their core, they are still unique individuals. Where one gifted student struggles, another may excel. Where one gifted student is enthralled, another may become bored. Individualized attention is crucial to creating a stimulating learning environment for all students, but especially for gifted students.
At The Tenney School, we believe strongly in a one-on-one approach that allows all students, including gifted students, to receive a personalized education that fits their needs. For more information about The Tenney School, contact us.