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Who’s Not Making It Into Gifted And Talented Programs?

If you missed the first two articles of this series, you can find Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.

There are four categories of gifted students. The successful, frustrated, camouflaged, and drop outs. The course goes into great detail in all four, but for this article, we’ll be focusing on one – camouflaged gifted.

My sister went “underground” and was “in hiding” throughout all of her school years. She learned to hide her abilities in the first grade when she discovered it wasn’t fun to get 100’s all the time.

My sister was in a classroom where students pass their paper to the person behind them to be corrected it as the teacher calls out the answers. As the class roll is called, each student calls out their grade so it can be recorded.  When my sister’s name was called she would say, “100!” The other students after her would have 3,4, and 5 wrong. On the playground, she would be teased and taunted for always getting 100. It didn’t take her very long to say “I don’t like 100.”

One day when my sister came home with her papers, my mother looked at one of them and exclaimed “Ten wrong!” My sister quickly explained, there weren’t ten wrong, she made ten wrong.

My sister never got a 100 from that day forth.

She always had 3, 4, or 5 wrong.  Never less than 3, never more than 5.  You think someone would have noticed, but instead, her teacher said “You see, I knew she wasn’t so smart.  She never gets 100.”

Yet she even had a system for getting her answers wrong.  The correct answer for #2 was located at #7, and the answer for #3 was split between #5 and #6, etc.

However, the day came when other students would get 100 while my sister had her 5 wrong. Then on the playground what happens… “I beat you, I beat you. You think you’re so smart, but you’re not. Nani-nani-boo-boo…”

That’s when students like my sister start asking themselves, “When I get a 100, you don’t like me, when I don’t get 100, you make fun of me, what am I supposed to do?” And so they pull away, go underground, telling themselves, “I’m never going to show how smart I am.”

Gifted students often find themselves the most bullied in schools.  Have you noticed that?  One of our students did a dissertation on bullying in a middle school and was astonished to find that the highest amount of bullying happens against the smartest students. Here’s what my student reported back, “the middle schoolers tell us that their teachers don’t intervene!”

It is not unusual to find gifted students at the elementary levels, and then they just disappear.  We can’t find them anymore in middle school.

They decided to go underground.

And here’s my concern; We have a range of students who are identified for gifted programs, but we have a lot of camouflaged and mental drop outs.  They are the hardest to find for program services.

Through the course of my career, I have come across many camouflaged gifted kids who have figured out that it just doesn’t pay to show your ability.

And so they cover it up.

Ironically, that’s who the gifted and talented funds are for, but they don’t get served. They don’t get served because as educators, we sometimes fall into the thinking that “they just don’t fit the way we’re teaching.” They are not performing.

We’re letting them get away because we have our idea of who should be in a gifted program and they don’t fit. We look for students who fit our idea instead of saying “Where are they?  Where are they?”

So think about students such as my sister, or the 4th grade boy I watched grow up and barely graduate high school.  His full story is part of my Nature and Needs course. We need to help to keep the spark alive in these students.

How are you doing your part?

Stay tuned for my next article.


We’re now half way through this article series.  Deadline for buying this course for only $60 ($30 off regular price) is fast approaching. 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:

  1. Identify and understand gifted and talented students
  2. Learn the characteristics of gifted children and how to separate these from behaviors
  3. Discover the four different types of gifted
  4. Gain awareness of the danger of “underground” G/T students
  5. Understand what makes gifted students different from normal and high achieving students.
  6. Learn the 4 domains of development in students and how it applies to gifted students
  7. Why gifted programs are necessary in our districts and why we should model high school football programs
  8. Know the importance of differentiation even within the G/T classroom
  9. 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.

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