Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Top 10 Favorite Things About Teaching GT Students

I'm into Top 10 lists now for some reason. :)

So I was having a conversation with some teachers at PD last week and I was trying very hard not to roll my eyes. They asked how many GT students I had in my class and when I answered they all chorally told me how lucky I was because teaching GT kids is just soooooo much easier. They already know everything and you have no behavior issues. *sigh* I think this is one of the biggest myths in GT education. And I think until you've actually done it, you don't know how difficult it can be! Don't get me wrong, it's incredibly rewarding. Especially for me, teaching the little ones, because I know I'm giving them a foundation in creativity and critical thinking that helps them apply that innate ability.

So I thought I would make a list of my Top Ten Favorite Things About Teaching GT Students:

10. They ask a lot of questions! For some teachers this may be a problem (I've heard teachers say "we aren't talking about that right now"), but we happen to be super-flexible and I will honor the fact that they have the courage to ask---if we have to look something up real quick to get an answer we do. Some of my more recent favorites: Do fish drink water? How did they make up the word rainbow? Who invented texting? What do they eat in jail? Inquiring minds want to know!

9. They love learning new vocabulary! Sometimes it's not quite used correctly, but they really do try. Nothing warms my heart more when for example you show them an inspiring video and a kiddo raises their hand and says "Miss Trayers that was extraordinary". Yes it was! 

8. They love wordplay! We are doing our STAAR testing here in Texas and on our writing test they are trying to get a 4 so they get commended. Someone made a poster with a Star Wars graphic saying "may the 4's be with you". My students laughed out loud when we passed there in the hallway and said "Miss Trayers look-it's wordplay-4's=force, get it?" They just get it.

7. We can get away with doing projects. I know with the way much of the curricula is scripted today, projects are often frowned upon-focus on reading and math and that's it. But with the GT class, we have an excuse to sneak those in.

6. You never know what they are going to say. One day a student came in saying he was not going to use his opposable thumbs all day so he could see what it was like to be a gorilla. Or when we were playing hangman and a student commented how it was "all about probability". They remember details too. I was talking about something I did when I was little and a little boy said "when you lived in Cancel-vania" (Pennsylvania) or a student asking when is "Alliteration Night" (Literacy Night). I wish I would remember to write them all down!

5. They are sensitive. Now for some this would be a con, but I think it gives the other kids opportunites to learn how to be empathetic. One day a child got upset over something that was little to me, but I know to him it was the end of the world. One of the kids brought him a tissue, another brought him another one, a third child just brought him the box! Of course, that made us all laugh including the boy who was upset. But that caring for each other doesn't always come naturally-we have opportunties to teach it.

4. Their answers! Sometimes I ask questions very selfishly just to see what they will come up with. I don't even go into that critical mode right away about punctuation or handwriting--I want to see what answer they came up with-who came up with something that I didn't even think of.

3. They are very open-minded to learning. We got back from lunch the other day and I told them to get a clipboard and paper and that we were going to do our writing lesson outside-they just did it, no questions, no complaints. They are always game for something novel.

2. Parents. Now I know sometimes parents (especially GT parents) can get a bad reputation, but I have been very, very lucky over the years. Yes, they may want to set up a conference the first week of school to see if you are challenging their child, but guess what, I am, so I don't mind showing them that. My kids do all different kinds of products including presentations and there are parents who come to every single one! In my previous school I didn't have nearly that kind of support. So I am very grateful for them.

1. It's challenging. That's a plus for me too. I worked in an office for several years (can you even picture that!?) and did my whole job within about 2 hours in the day. When I asked for more work, I was literally told to just look busy. How BORING! I love trying to find new ideas, new books, new units to try and keep them challenged.

I'm sure there are more, but that's my Top Ten. I love what I do and I think that shows with the kids. I've probably told this story before, but one of my students was asking what my dog Ruby does during the day. I started to answer with, "when I'm at work..." and she interrupted me and said "you work?!?". I had to laugh. It doesn't feel like work to me either! :)

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  1. I loved this post. Although, I do not teach a class of gifted children, I can see what you are talking about as I have had gifted children in my classroom over the years. These are kids who think "outside of the box" and who sometimes teachers find difficult to relate to because they question everything. Great reminders of how we must try to reach every child; even the gifted.

  2. Oh I would LOVE a class of gifted children. I love how they think and are so interested in learning. I also know how they would tire me out - I raised a very gifted daughter - she was a blast, but always kept me on my toes - never, ever a dull moment. I love reading your blog, because you always get me thinking of how to challenge the children in my class. Thanks! Maria