Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why Should Each Teacher Differentiate for Gifted Students?

Differentiation is hard.  It is even harder to differentiate for gifted students. (Why Differentiating for Gifted Kids Is Harder)  But a key question is also, why do we depend on classroom teachers to differentiate for gifted kids?  Why aren't measures in place in the schools to accommodate gifted students? 

When kids with a wide array of distinctly different learning needs must have different instructional support, their teachers get significant help from extensive full-time staff, including teachers and aides.  When teachers are asked to differentiate for gifted students, there is frequently NOTHING available for the teacher to use and no one to ask.  There isn't usually anything in their own education and training to fall back on.  They may have had one or two lectures in their teacher training coursework addressing the needs of gifted students.  But what do they actually TEACH when one of their students is way beyond everyone else in her knowledge of the fundamentals of biology?  And, the question for this post, why should each teacher differentiate for their gifted student(s)?  Why isn't someone in the district already responsible for drawing up objectives, benchmarks, and learning activities for these children?  Why is each teacher charged with re-inventing the wheel for each gifted child?

It is true that each gifted child might be vastly different from another one.  But, that just makes it harder for each individual classroom teacher.  School districts, on the other hand, will usually have at least a few students with roughly similar needs.  Why shouldn't the school district already have materials, objectives, benchmarks, and learning activities available for teachers to use?  Or better yet, why don't schools have teachers available who are responsible for delivering these things to the gifted students? 

Most of the students with special needs receive at least part of their instruction - the part that specifically addresses their learning needs - from a special teacher.  Gifted students should be no exception.  Their needs should be addressed specifically by a special teacher who is prepared to deal with them. 

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