Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Ten Things We Should Never Say To Our Gifted Learners

Day 2 of the GiftEDNZ October Blogging Challenge featured a blogpost from Lisa Van Gemert entitled, "Top Ten Ways to Annoy a Gifted Child." I must admit, I initially found this post charmingly hilarious but I acknowledge that this response comes from the place of being an empowered adult with the confidence and life experiences to advocate for my own needs. It is not half as funny if you put yourself in the shoes of a young person without the resources and courage to fight for what they need to truly thrive in our schools.

Lisa's post is an important one and I imagine we'd be hard-pushed to find a single member of the gifted community who has not experienced at least a handful of the items on her list.

So I thought I'd add to the list, this time focusing on ten things that a gifted learner should never hear us teachers say. I wrote this list in consultation with some of the gifted young people I've had the privilege of working with. These learners are now in high school so they are particularly sensitive to any sort of feedback that singles them out from the rest of their class, as well as any comments that bog them down under the weight of their teachers' high expectations.

For the sake of ease, I've called this student Barbara which coincidentally is the name I use in my classroom when I need an example from a "hypothetical" student. I hope all Barbaras will forgive me; it just rolls off the tongue easily........

Without further ado, ten things we should never say to our gifted learners........

1. "Don't worry about that question now, Barbara! You'll cover that in next year's curriculum."

2. "Does anyone besides Barbara have an answer for my question?" (Said with a scathing tone after Barbara has offered answers to a number of questions.)

3. "Why are you struggling? You should know how to do this! You're smart."

4.  "Look at Barbara's work. Isn't it amazing? Barbara always does such amazing work......"  or anything which suggests favouritism or singles Barbara out from the rest of the class.

5.  "Don't stress about the test. You're so capable; you'll crush it! I just know you'll get top mark."

6.  Followed closely by, "I have to be honest, I thought you'd get a better mark than that, Barbara."

7.  Please don't EVER email me in my weekend asking for help with your homework."

8. "Barbara! You're reading AGAIN? I never see you without your nose in a book."

9. "I'm offering a chocolate bar to anyone who gets 100% on the test."

10. ""I believe all kids are gifted."

What would you add?

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