Every year we, as teachers, get a new crop of personalities in our classroom every year. My class is partly already identified Gifted and Talented kiddos. Sometimes some of them need an extra level of tolerance. You have to ignore little things to prevent them from becoming big things. I had a student once who was reading on a 5th grade level by the end of their Kinder year. When I would read aloud he would lay down, sometimes rolling back and forth. Administraters coming in to observe would dock me for not redirecting him. However, I knew from experience-he was listening. I could ask him anything about the story we were reading and he could answer. Ancillary teachers, cafeteria aides, the teachers with his dismissal group would bring me the issues they had with him every day. I had to explain that those little things were part of his process, that's how he learned. But the mentality I contended with was everyone should do as I say. My way or the highway so to speak.
I worked with a teacher several years ago who did not have tolerance for a particular student I will call Steve. Steve acted out constantly in that class. And this teacher let the other students call him names and tell him to "shut up" because she wished she could do the same. I actually suspect he had at least mild Asperger's. His mother asked in a conference who of Steve's friends she should invite to his birthday party and the teacher laughed and said "he doesn't have any friends". Can you imagine? So they had a sub one day and the sub couldn't handle him. He was placed in my class for the day. I told my students he is part of our class and we will treat him accordingly. They were doing a group project and one of my students said "Steve, you are so smart"-Steve beamed. I didn't have any issues with him that day and he was placed in my classroom permanently. And I rarely had issues with him.
Two books I wish every teacher would read:
Loser is about a student who is different. He enters Day One ready to learn, but unfortunately, not all his teachers understand him. I picture myself as this child's teacher while I read and I can see myself laughing with him instead of at him.
Melody has cerebral palsy and is also misunderstood by her teachers. They don't understand how smart she is or take the time to even read the notes from the previous teachers. Her mom sets one of them straight and that's actually one of my favorite parts of the book. I think we need to remember that even if a student can't vocalize what they need-that we have to take the time to figure that out anyway, not just write them off.
Working with GT kiddos I have seen a lot of quirkiness over the years. I have found that the less you fight it and the more you tap into it as a strength, the easier the year will be for both of you! It kills me to see students I have taught move on to classes where they are painfully misunderstood. Sometimes teachers need that lesson in tolerance as well.