What do parents of gifted kids want?
The summer before my first son entered kindergarten, I suddenly knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that no school would ever fit the perfect vision of what I wanted for my darling little boy! Not even the district I’d taught in for 6 years and knew to be highly regarded.
A wise friend and fellow educator spoke truth to me that I’ll never forget: Consider the school your partner. Take advantage of everything it offers. But it is secondary; you are still his primary educator, his advocate for the next 12 years.
And as both of my kids progressed through the system, what was the main thing I wanted from the school? To know that their teachers saw them as individuals, recognized their unique abilities (and un-abilities) and were interested in providing engaging, appropriate challenges.
I have to admit, my thinking wasn’t egalitarian. The truth is, first and foremost I just wanted to make sure my own kids’ talents were valued and developed. It turns out of course that our favorite teachers (theirs and mine) were people who celebrated everyone’s talents, loved connecting personally with each of their students, and weren’t intimidated by giftedness or overwhelmed by differing abilities. I’m happy to say we found a lot of those teachers.
What contributes to teachers’ abilities to know their students well and address this individual need? In my opinion it’s small class size, looping, advisories, and using the data that schools collect on every child.
The educator who knows his or her students well is one of the important advocates in self-advocacy.