Successful Advocacy for the Gifted and Talented

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Successful Advocacy for the Gifted and Talented A Compilation of Resources to Serve the Needs of High-Ability & High-Potential Learners                       Gifted Students Need: Opportunities to pursue in-depth areas of special interest Time to spend with others of similar ability Opportunities to share their ideas and to react to other’s ideas A wide variety of interests they can pursue – some of which may seem inappropriate for their chronological age Unstructured time,
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  Successful Advocacy for the Gifted and Talented  A Compilation of Resources to Serve the Needs of High-Ability & High-Potential Learners  Gifted Students Need:    Opportunities to pursue in-depth areas of special interest      Time to spend with others of similar ability      Opportunities to share their ideas and to react to other  ’ s ideas      A wide variety of interests they can pursue  –  some of which may seem inappropriate for their chronological age      Unstructured time, just to think       Understanding of demands they place on themselves  –  often perfectionists  –  and their frequentintolerance for foolishness in others      Responsibilities commensurate with maturity level, not mental age      Academic learning at their own pace, avoiding necessary drill, yet sufficient explanation andreinforcement of concepts and processes    Activities that enable them to operate at complex levels of thought and feeling      Opportunities for divergent production      Discussions with intellectual peers      Opportunities to apply abilities to real problems      Skills in critical thinking, creative thinking, research, problem-solving, coping with exceptionality,decision-making, and leadership      Encouragement of their desire to find unique approaches or alternatives      Patience in dealing with their inquisitiveness, and frequent dissatisfaction with generalizations      Understanding their uniqueness and the burdens often placed on them  –  socially, emotionally andacademically    To understand Giftedness in relation to the “norm”      Educational interventions      Affective facilitation      Gifted students DESERVE for their educational needs to be meet.      Advocates in their life that understand that we are working with our future inventors, leaders andcurers of cancer.      Advocates that are connected.  Why Gifted and Talented Education is Important Gifted students come from every walk of life, every ethnic and socioeconomic group, and every nation.There is no standard pattern of talent. There is an unlimited range of personality traits. Despite thisdiversity, common threads have emerged in the experiences and characteristics of gifted individuals that call for special attention if they are to develop optimally and reach their potential or beyond. Helping students learn and grow is a goal of every school. Implicit in that goal is an understanding of howto work with special populations of children. Gifted and talented education encompasses the expertiseneeded to properly identify and serve not only the students who demonstrate high achievement, but alsothose who have the ability to achieve at high levels. Gifted education is an educational intervention. Gifted Education Strategies Work   The educational community owes a great deal to the efforts of those involved in gifted and talentededucation. Over the past 50 years, terms like acceleration, curriculum compacting,   grouping, pull-out, and even differentiation have seeped into mainstream language. These strategies work for gifted studentsin many different ways. How have these strategies helped your students or children? Document stories of ways these strategies have helped. That will help validate your program. Placing them in an environmentwhere they are with other gifted students helps them to excel academically and socially. Teacher Training Matters  Did you know that gifted children spend 80 percent of their time in the regular classroom, yet only 61% of classroom teachers have had any training in meeting their needs? Most of that 61% of training comes inthe form of undergraduate instruction in the area of exceptional children. It is essential that teachers andother school personnel are familiar with the characteristics of giftedness and possess an array of strategies to address and meet the students’ learning differences and needs. Gifted and talented students lear  ndifferently than other students. Teachers trained to recognize these differences and who can adaptinstruction using an array of strategies that are well researched can help children soar. All teachers should be trained to work with gifted kids. What educational programs does your school have for training regular teachers to work with gifted kids? Is that something your gifted program could do? Common Gifted Education Myths    Gifted students don’t need help, they’ll do fine on their own      Teachers challenge all the students, so gifted kids will be fine in the regular classroom    Gifted students make everyone else in the class smarter by providing a role model or a challenge    All children are gifted    Acceleration placement options are socially harmful for gifted students    That student can’t be gifted, he’s receiving poor grades      Gifted students are happy, popular, and well adjusted in school    This child can’t be gifted, he has a disability      Gifted education programs are elitist    Our district has a gifted and talented program; we have AP courses    Gifted education requires abundant resourcesHow many of these myths have you heard before? Make sure you have the knowledge to dispel them.  Connecting the Pieces    Students    –  be proud of your gifts, realize your potential and reach beyond it; get out of your comfort zone.    Parents    –    you are your child’s best advocate. Work as a partner with all of your child’s teachers.Inform the teachers on your child’s strengths, areas of growth, characteristics, etc… Follow the news and what is going on in gifted education in the state of Missouri. Collaborate with other parents of gifted kids, form a parent group. Research giftedness and keep your schooladministrators and teachers current on gifted education data. Help your child understand who he/she is, don’t help them mask their gifts, help them celebrate who they are.    Teachers    –  listen to the parents of your gifted children, they know them the best. Learn moreabout giftedness and gifted education. Differentiate in your classroom. Work with your giftededucation teacher, you are on the same team; you both want the best for every student. Stand up for your gifted students, know that they are hypersensitive. Don’t let them bully or be bullied. Set your standards high, help them reach beyond their potential. Celebrate their gifts. Help them withorganization and social needs. Typically  –  the higher the IQ the lower the organization and socialskills. Listen to the kids, let them amaze you.    Administrators & Boards    –  KEEP YOUR GIFTED PROGRAMS. THEY ARE GREATLYNEEDED. Though most gifted students perform extremely well on standardized tests, some donot. Some have test anxiety; some are not gifted in tested areas. Their giftedness should not be judged by test scores. Don ’t be afraid to stand up for these kids and programs. Stay current on gifted news and legislation and be an advocate for these students and your program. Gifted students are included in “all”, when it comes to mission statements and policy that includes “allstudents”.  Achievement is talent plus preparation. Gifted students come to us with talent, it is the job of teachers of the gifted and gifted programs to provide the preparation.Students need both in order to succeed. To put it another way, gifted students have a great deal of academic intelligence,but how is their practical intelligence? What are our gifted programs doing to cultivate both?  (paraphrased from the book Outliers)    Successful Advocacy Advocacy, whether at the local, state, or federal level, is simply making your views known through directand indirect contacts with elected officials and other decision makers. This includes your local electedschool board members. Everyone, regardless of your prior experience, should make it a practice to let your representative know your position on key issues. Your representatives want to hear from you!Now that you've agreed to help promote gifted education issues, take a moment to review the followingsteps that will help you ensure success.    Educate Yourself  , a well-informed advocate is the most successful advocate. Although it is notnecessary to become an expert in gifted education issues, it is very helpful if you share with your representatives more than your personal story.    Decide on Your Message , once you are comfortable with the issue, decide what you are seekingfrom your representative, and be as specific as possible. Do you want their support for existinglegislation? When your message is clear, it will be easier for your representative to respond.    Identify Targets , not every elected official can efficiently help you with every gifted educationissue. Be sure that you identify which level of government handles the specific issue you are  concerned about (for example, curriculum decisions may be a local school board issue; somefunding issues are state-level questions; others are federal) and that you are directing your advocacyefforts to the correct representative. GAM can help you identify key state-level decision-makers; thenames and addresses of your state and federal legislators are available from your local library or theInternet.    Important Points to Remember  , when Writing and Calling Your Legislator and School BoardMembers o   Keep the letters and calls brief and concise (letters generally not more than 3-5 paragraphs;phone calls generally 1 to 2 minutes). o   Inform the Legislator who you are and if you are from his/her district. o   Say why you are writing/calling. o   Explain the action you want the elected official to take. o   Explain what this action will accomplish (especially in his/her district). o   Ask for his or her vote. Ask if you can count on his/her commitment. o   If the official is unavailable when you call, speak to the staff member. This is more likely toget the message across than waiting for a return phone call, especially if a vote is pending. Make Your Letter Count  Essential Components of a Letter to Your Elected Official Officials and their staffs pay careful attention totheir mail since it often conveys the major body of public and voter sentiment on pending legislativeactivity. Here's an outline to follow when writing a letter to your elected official.    Introductory Paragraph ... Give a reason for your letter, stating the title and number of the existingor pending legislation, if appropriate. ... Identify yourself and your interest in gifted education.    State the action you are seeking. Communicate reasons why this legislator should act in support of your bill. These reasons might include historical facts, logic, data, credible opinion, personalexperience, and the weaknesses of opposing points of view.    Letter Closing ... Restate the action you are seeking. Ask for the official's comment. ... Expressappreciation for considering your views. Indicate willingness to help. ... If you can arrange it, invitethe official to visit your classroom or school. Provide your address and phone number.Tips to Increase the Effectiveness of Your Letter     Be courteous, constructive, and reasonable, or you will lose credibility and the reader's good will.    Be careful not to give exaggerated or misleading information. Facts must be accurate.    Write your letter in your own words. Form letters do not produce results. The following letter canhelp you get started. 4. Use your own stationery. Never use work time or materials for advocacypurposes.    Spell names correctly. Be neat. Type if your handwriting is hard to read.    Send a letter of appreciation after you have received the support you request. Click find your Missouri Representative and Senator, and their addresses, phonenumbers, and individual information. Works Cited:Hoagies Gifted Educati on Page. HYPERLINK “” National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). HYPERLINK  Webb, J.T., Amend, E.R., Gore, J.L., & DeVries, A.R., (2007).  A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children. Scottsdale, AZ: Great Potential Press, Inc.The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children by NAGC. Edited by: Maureen Neihart, Sally Reis, Nancy Robinson, Sidney Moon.   GAM has actively supported the needs of high-ability and high-potential learners in Missouri since 1980. We provideteacher training, curriculum development, parent support, regional seminars and workshops, scholarships, studentcompetitions, and awards. Further, GAM conducts an annual state conference for all Missouri stakeholders in giftededucation. For further information about GAM and gifted education in Missouri, please visit further  information on advocating for the gifted and talented, please contact: Kyna Iman, GAM Legislative Consultant,,or Dr. Robin Lady, GAM Legislative/Public Issues Representative, 
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