In March, we tend to focus on the concept of luck, specifically the luck of the Irish with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. But have you ever thought of the luck of gifted, academically talented, and creative students have with academic experiences? Although it may appear that these students are lucky to have remarkable intellect and talent, you will be surprised at how unlucky many of these students are in receiving appropriate educational experiences that meet their cognitive and social-emotional needs.
I often hear from educators “they are gifted, so I let them take it to the next level as they’re able”. The trouble with that mindset is that although gifted students can think beyond and out of the box, they need guidance to get there. Gifted/advanced students should not be left to fumble around until they have reached somewhere without appropriate accountability or targeted instruction on new skills or thinking processes. Instead, intentionality with curriculum planning for gifted/advanced students is critical!
Yes, gifted/advanced learners can move at a faster pace, think in creative and innovative ways, and delve into deep and complex learning when of interest. However, our responsibility as educators and advocates is to stretch their thinking, promote exploration, communicate expectations, challenge their output, and support their social/emotional growth through the journey.
How can we begin? One instructional practice that can make all the difference and inform their educational journey is the use of pre-assessments. It is a relevant instructional practice for all students, but with gifted/advanced learners, it is essential. The instructional strategy of pre-assessments is a way for teachers of gifted/advanced students to assess what they know before new curriculum is taught. It can be done through observations, paper-pencil tasks, open-ended discussions, one-on-one conversations, problem-solving experiences, and much more. It is an important practice for gifted/advanced students because it helps eliminate the repetition of skills, content, and learning tasks that they have already mastered. Not only can the practice of pre-assessments in the classroom inform how innovative educational experiences can be integrated into their academic experience, but it also supports their social/emotional needs. When gifted/advanced students are acknowledged for their abilities and knowledge, it promotes confidence and inspires them to take further risks.
Can we change the luck of gifted/advanced students and their academic experiences? Absolutely! With intentional planning, we can motivate, nurture their potential, and help unlock their potential.