Education Opinion

Seeking Teachers for Gifted Children Part 2

By Tamara Fisher — May 16, 2008 4 min read
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Last November at the annual NAGC convention in Minneapolis, I attended the membership business meeting where, among the many items discussed, it was brought up that NAGC will be striving to collaborate with colleges and universities the next few years to increase content about gifted students for America’s pre-service teachers. Since that time, NAGC has conducted an extensive survey of every higher education institution in the country and compiled their findings of “what’s offered,” which were recently finalized and just posted (within the last week… such timing!) at their website. (links are below)

One clarification from my post last week… At the meeting in November, their data at that point indicated that seventy-seven U.S. colleges or universities offered coursework in Gifted Education. In examining the updated data on their website, I see that number is now eighty-one (eighty-four if you count Canada, Peru, and Singapore). I have made that correction to my previous post.

You can download an Excel spreadsheet list of these eighty-four colleges and universities here. They are alphabetical by state and a contact person is listed for each one. (Those preferring to link to a PDF version click here.) You can also find out what sort of degree or endorsement each offers, which places offer online coursework in Gifted Education, and which universities have a center dedicated to Gifted and Talented Education (these would be the places that conduct the bulk of the research in the field, as well as provide additional services such as outreach and advocacy). For anyone curious enough, you can also view the impressively extensive survey that was used to collect all of the information.

Also now available is a Higher Education Community page which includes a link to a page about the NCATE Teacher Preparation Standards in Gifted Education. From there you can find a link to every detail possible about the newly-revised and research-based standards for teacher preparation in Gifted Education. They were created collaboratively by NAGC, NCATE (the National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education), and CEC (the Council for Exceptional Children). (While you’re at it, check out CEC’s TAG division, called The Association for the Gifted.) You can read a comparison of the new standards to the old standards, a comparison of the new standards to state standards, and a thorough list, including rationales, of all the research that supports the new standards. More details about the research chosen are available here.

Coming this summer will be guidebooks with further information about implementing the standards. One guidebook will be for university professionals to aid in their creation or continuation of teacher education programs in Gifted Education. The second guidebook will be for P-12 teachers and administrators, with the aim of helping them to select and create professional development for teachers about gifted students.

It’s so exciting for me to see these important documents (the standards, guidebooks, and compiled list of locations offering coursework in gifted) come to life! “If you build it, they will come,” and these steps will hopefully make a difference by being a means of attracting more interest in creating opportunities for teachers and future teachers to learn about gifted students and how best to meet their needs. Teachers have big hearts, and it has been my experience that their biggest obstacle in reaching these students is not lack of desire, but rather more a lack of exposure to the right and best information.

Along that line, I’d like to issue a challenge to each of you for the summer… to nudge you (& our nation) along in your learning about gifted students ;o) Choose any one of the following:

* Help spread the word! Download a copy of the teacher preparation standards for your superintendent and principal. Do you know someone who teaches future teachers? Ask them, “So… have you heard?” and give them a copy of the standards.

* Sign up for an online course to further educate yourself about gifted students.

* Stop by your principal’s or superintendent’s office and request that – as they make plans for next school year – they include a professional development opportunity for the staff to learn more about gifted students and how to reach them.

* Attend a conference, workshop, or training.

* Read a book!

* Make a list of three(-ish) manageable and realistic goals of how you will reach and advocate for the gifted students who will appear in your classroom next year. Then decide how you will prepare yourself to meet those goals.

* Strike up a conversation about gifted students with a colleague. Share ideas and questions and strategies and concerns. Begin a dialogue on a topic that often gets overlooked!

The pieces are falling into place. Be a part of the picture!

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.