I landed in a new Twitter chat this weekend (#ecet2 – Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers). The moderator was @AngelaAbend, and the topic was gifted students. Here is one of the threads from the discussion when we were asked to describe gifted children:
I don’t like to over-generalize gifted students. Some can be hard on themselves and do their best in school. But there are others who do so well at the beginning of their school careers that they receive more compliments than challenges. Without sufficient problem-solving practice during these formative years, these students may never learn what to do when answers do not immediately appear in their heads. By assuming young, successful students will “be fine,” we inadvertently cripple them later in life. It’s essential that we target every child’s Zone of Proximal Development regularly so they can be equipped with tools and strategies for dealing with difficulties.
During the chat, Angela Abend tweeted the video, “James and Susie,” which illustrates the need for all children to be challenged.
When my gifted students say, “This is hard!” I tell them, “Good! That’s my job! If it was too easy, I’d be worried.” Of course, there are students like my 5th grader from last year who would say, “This isn’t in my ZPD!” with a sly grin on his face. “Keep trying! You’ll figure it out,” I always responded. And he would.