Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Article on Harnessing Student Potential

I thought this was a very apt analogy:  harnessing high potential

It amazes me sometimes I ask a certain question or do a certain activity and I can something in the students that hadn't been apparent before. I have a student who really struggled this year with reading. I've been fighting to prevent him from being retained because I truly believe it's some sort of learning disability that is holding him back. We did an activity where they were comparing the park and the beach with a double-bubble map. Most of the students answered that the similarities between the 2 were: you could play there, it was fun, there are people there-obvious answers, in my mind. His answer: it's free to go to both places. That was an outside the box answer for this group of kiddos. I can see that giftedness in him, even if it doesn't appear on paper.

I do believe we have to get to know our students individually-not just their strengths and weaknesses, but also their interests. Good teachers use those interests to feed into that potential. It always amazes me (and frankly bothers me) that my students go to their specials classes or to lunch and other staff will comment-"that child is GT"? That giftedness appears in different ways with different students. I agree with this author that we are coaching them in a way. Guiding them towards making those gifts more apparent. It's our job to teach them how to be creative, how to think deeply. Many kids don't come to school already with those tools in their toolbox. It's an important thing for us to remember as teachers.


  1. I have a kid (just finished K) who doesn't fit into the classroom structure. Her gifts are quite apparent to me, her mom, but not to the school because, I think, her academic skills are seen as 'average'. However, she's very creative and thoughtful, a deep thinker, a connection maker, always making, solving problems, asking questions. She can listen to stories for hours on end and has the vocabulary of a 5th grader. But in her K class she was the rebel, not willing to go with the flow, to do the required academic stuff just because they wanted her to. She's interested in everything, but only within the context of her own narrative. They recommended she repeat K so she can learn to follow the rules, now or never they said. What happens to her potential if that happens?

  2. I can't believe other teachers ask that! When I taught, I had a student tell me the first day of school (this was my first year teaching) that he was dumb. It broke my heart. He wasn't dumb, but didn't fit school's mold for him. I went to our counselor looking for advice and she said, "Well, he is." I never went to her again.

  3. And, I thought I'd share that I will be homeschooling my kids for the first time next year. My oldest just finished 1st grade.

    I left a comment here at the beginning of the year unsure of what to do for my daughter that I suspect is gifted. Making this decision has completely changed everything for the better for our family!

  4. MJR-how frustrating for you and your daughter. I taught K for a long time and we rarely ask kids to repeat, never have I heard of a child needing to do so to learn "rules". The more bored they are, the more they tend to act out.

    I'm a firm believer that teachers should go with a student's flow and make every effort to reach them the way they think. At least she has thoughtful parents who recognize her gifts. Sounds like a remarkable child.

    Brandy-very sad that a counselor would respond that way. Makes you wonder why some people even decide to go into the business. Glad you are happy with your decision-sounds like you guys have a great plan.

  5. Thanks so much for your reply to my comment. I'm really glad to have found your blog and read accounts of other kids who sound a lot like mine and the thoughts of a teacher who understands them. I think our school district is missing the boat by not starting gifted programs until the 4th grade and not training their teachers to recognize a wide range of 'smarts'. Her teachers called her 'exceptional' but in the same breath said, 'she's not like the other kids' and made suggestions for how she can be more like them. We've declined their recommendations for next year and will most likely be homeschooling.

  6. Oh I completely agree. I have to defend it all the time-people say they are too young to be identified. The earlier you can start challenging them the better, in my opinion.

    There are a lot of teachers out there, unfortunately, who can't handle a student that doesn't fit the cookie-cutter design. They will read books to their students like "Tacky the Penguin" or "Molly Lou Melon" about accepting quirks and marching to the beat of your own drummer; then turn around and not accept that in their students.

    I'm sorry the system seems to have failed your little one. I'm sure she you will find ways to challenge her more than that school seems to be willing to.

  7. Have to chime in and say that I in my experience as a mom who has her oldest child leaving public elementary school there are way too many kiddos not identified prior to 3rd grade. Mainly due to LD or behavior issues due to ADD/ADHD! In fact a former pre-k classmate of my younger ds recently identified as G&T was NOT pulled for possible testing. Why? because that child has some behavior issues. Yet as a 4 year old his vocab and insights were WAY beyond the norm.

  8. MJR - please email me. I would love to talk to you about something.

    thelacy4 at windstream dot net