A lot of times in the educational discussion we can get bogged down in the theory, and it simply is not user-friendly for teachers practicing in the field. This blog will seek to translate some of the theory surrounding gifted education and how to use it practically in your classroom.
In the May edition of Teaching for High Potential, Christine Dietz has an interesting article titled “All For One: The Essential Art of Collaboration”. In the article, a teacher of gifted finds colleagues in her district also in gifted and is purposeful about collaborating with them. They find ways to connect with one another whether it be over the internet or through mobile text, sometimes organizing meetings and providing resources.
This is a valuable idea, but how does it translate into practice? How does one find people to collaborate with, especially teachers of gifted who sometimes live a very lonely existence? There have been several folks who work with gifted students who tell me they are not just the only one doing this in their school or district, but sometimes the entire county. I actually had someone call me from Illinois, two states over, because she needed someone to talk to about gifted. Just a conversation with me made her feel more relaxed in her role in gifted education because as she said, “it’s nice to know I’m not alone”.
Even within a district it can be lonely to be the gifted intervention specialist. They often either are isolated in a resource room where kids come to them like children to a divorced parent without any communication between the two adults, or they are shuffling between so many buildings that it is nearly impossible to get to even know other staff members’ names. When it comes to collaboration, you definitely have to make a concerted effort to do so.
One possibility is that if you have other gifted folks who teach in your district, make efforts to meet with one another even if not in the same building. This could be a gathering at a Panera before school, during school at shared professional development time, or after school at happy hour. Having someone to talk to can be very cathartic as well and you’ll pick up any tips they may be able to provide.