Education Opinion

Go to the Office!

By Tamara Fisher — August 23, 2011 3 min read
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I’ve decided I’m going to send my gifted students to the principal’s office this year. A lot. Like at least one kid a week per school.

Principals are very busy people, so since my students don’t end up in their offices (well, usually...), and since things in my classroom are typically sailing along quite smoothly, I think we’re off their radar most of the time. Well, not this year. This year, even if they don’t come to us, I’m going to send us to them.

If a student has a huge “a-ha” moment, he’ll be sent to the principal’s office to share his new insight.

When a student finishes writing the book she’s been working on all semester, she’ll be sent to the principal’s office to show her the manuscript.

If a student finally solves that puzzle he’s been working on for 20 minutes, he’ll earn a trip down the hall to show Principal how he’s learning to master that secret key called persistence.

When I teach the Kindergarteners how to do analogies, I’ll select a student to go teach the concept to the principal.

If Ross stops by to tell me about the improvements he made over the summer to his do-it-yourself home security system, I’m sending him to the principal’s office to demonstrate how it works.

When Binary once again generates a list of 40 fascinating topics he wants to pursue for our Advanced Studies class, this year I’m going to send him to the principal so the principal can see where this kid is beginning in his narrow-it-down-to-one process.

If one of my 2nd graders poses a breath-catching question, I’m sending her to the principal to get another adult’s input (and to let the principal witness the kinds of questions these kids ask).

When my high school students finally figure out how to code a moving three-dimensional object for the iPhone app they’re creating, I’m sending them to the principal to share their success.

If my 6th graders learn new strategies for keeping perfectionism healthy, I’m sending them to Principal to pass on their new insights.

When my 5th graders rave about their advanced math class, I’m going to send them to the principal’s office to thank him for making sure the class survived huge (HUGE!) budget cuts over the summer.

See, I think principals get buried in the bad news. Day in and day out, they spend a sizable chunk of their time dealing with behavior problems; upset parents; serious student offenses; federal, state, and local paperwork details, etc. It often appears they are dealing with problem after problem. This year, I hope to offer them some sUnLiGhT! And the sly subversive advantage is I’m quietly advocating for my students in the process by subtly educating the principals on what we do in gifted education and how these kids really are different.

A few years back, my parents attended a middle school band concert in another town to cheer on a family friend’s daughter. They were so thoroughly impressed by the students, the band director, the quality of the music, the way the band director interacted with the kids, and how the whole evening was one impressive moment after another, that they decided to call the school’s principal the next day to compliment him on his staff and students. It went something like this:

Secretary: Whatchyamacallit School, how may I help you?

My Parents: We’d like to speak to the principal, please.

Secretary: What is this regarding?

My Parents: Your band concert that we attended last night.

Secretary: Are you parents of one of our Band students?

My Parents: No, we were just in the audience last night.

The secretary puts my parents on hold and informs the principal that a couple of community members are calling regarding the concert the night before.

I can just imagine the principal taking a deep breath here and bracing himself as he picks up his phone.

Principal: This is Principal Smith, how may I help you?

My Parents: We were at your band concert last night and just wanted to call and let you know how impressed we were by all of your students and the band director. They did a wonderful job and we really enjoyed it.

Principal (CRYING): ...and I thought you were calling to complain about something...! You don’t know how much this call means to me. I will definitely pass on your compliment to the band director and his students.

I hope to make a principal cry this year :o) Send your gifted students to the office and see if you can do it, too!

The opinions expressed in Unwrapping the Gifted are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.