I can still remember my mother coming back home in tears from our school that day. It was my younger sister’s first year and back then, especially if you were from a little tiny town like ours, only teachers were supposed to teach kids to read.
The teachers were upset with my mother because my sister showed up to class knowing how to read. Looking at my father, mother tried explaining in tears, “I didn’t teacher her, I didn’t teach her, did I?”
But how did she learn to read?
My sister taught herself.
It happened while my mother ironed! She would walk up to mother with her favorite book, point, and ask “what’s that word?”
My sister had a terrible time in school as teachers spent most of their energy trying to make her fit the definition of ‘normal’ for those times instead of trying to understand who she was.
But she couldn’t be normal.
Many years later, she sent me an editorial clipping that read: “I’m never gonna be what I could have been, had I been in a setting where teachers didn’t punish me for being bright, but celebrated me being bright.” She underlined this sentence and included a handwritten note saying, “This goes ditto for me.”
It’s because of my sister that I became involved in gifted education before we even coined the term ‘gifted’.
She learned to survive in the school system by covering up her love of learning, and who she really is, so that she could regurgitate what teachers wanted and do the work the way they wanted. She suffered psychological damage from 12 years of hearing, “Why can’t you just be normal?”
Understanding gifted kids is serious business, but they can go completely unnoticed.
As teachers, we have the power to make a difference in kids’ lives, but we also have the power to ruin our kiddos for life.
Gifted education is more than just a career for me. It’s about my family, my sister, and the areas of her life that went “underground” because she was so misunderstood. It’s about the students I meet that remind me of my sister’s journey.
Friends, gifted and talented training is not a frivolous matter or just some state requirement to learn about gifted children. Before we can serve gifted and talented children, we must learn to understand the characteristics associated with their giftedness so we can identify who they are…
So why are gifted students different and what does that mean for us as educators? That’s the topic of the next article in this series.
This series is based on Joyce Juntune’s 6 Hour Training, Nature & Needs of Gifted Children.
For a limited time you can buy this course for only $60 ($30 off regular price). Buy Joyce Juntune’s 6 Hour Nature & Needs by clicking here or call (281) 560-3499.
The guided online course is designed to provide teachers with the tools to:
- Identify and understand gifted and talented students
- Learn the characteristics of gifted children and how to separate these from behaviors
- Discover the four different types of gifted
- Gain awareness of the danger of “underground” G/T students
- Understand what makes gifted students different from normal and high achieving students.
- Learn the 4 domains of development in students and how it applies to gifted students
- Why gifted programs are necessary in our districts and why we should model high school football programs
- Know the importance of differentiation even within the G/T classroom
- Discover the impact of a child’s environment and how it will influence their development
For Coordinators and Directors: Call (281) 560-3499 to speak with Jan for bulk purchases. Reflective questions and activities in the online course facilitate user engagement, and the learning management system provides built-in accountability and tracking.