Gifted is … As Gifted does …

I’d love to hear comments on what people think this saying means. I have seen it mentioned in books and articles I have read, but so far I haven’t come across a clear definition. I have decided it must refer to the great variety there is amongst the characteristics of all gifted students.

Perish the thought that it could mean that if the gifted child is not producing or “doing”, then they are not gifted! It depends too, on the achievement levels of the gifted child.

Underachieving gifted students are often hard to discern because they have such different attitudes to high-achieving gifted students. Gifted students whose ability is masked by a learning difficulty are different again. But they all belong to the category of “giftedness” that New Zealand NAG 1 iii(c) asks us to cater for.

With all the variety, it is a tall order to ask all teachers who could be teaching a gifted child in their mainstream classroom, to know exactly how to deal with a gifted student from Day One. The best we can ask for from teachers with up to 30 other students to teach, is they make themselves aware of the gifted child, try to meet their needs on a regular basis, and make sure they are included in their plans for all children to achieve in their classroom. This presupposes they believe the gifted actually exist!!

As a teacher, I take the job of meeting every child’s needs very seriously. Equitable teaching to me does not mean all get the same input, but each child is helped with whatever they need to move forward in their learning. For some gifted students, it is not always academic extension they need, but it could be assistance with social skills, to enable them to become more independent in their learning or to cope better with the stresses they experience in a regular classroom. Needs will often follow seasons, with some passing and new ones starting at different times throughout the school year.

Gifted students are unique to the extreme that they can’t always be grouped as like individuals. But some descriptions are more common identifiers of gifted students – such as quirky behaviours, fascination with unusual topics, left-field questions, and an often strong sense of justice, and injustice!

The gifted become … as they are given the opportunity to do. Please don’t deny them that opportunity.