But how do we as parents and teachers of the gifted prepare for the new school year? What tools do we need? It seems that the most common ingredient for any student’s successful school year is a strong parent-teacher partnership. Going into the year with the idea that we are all on the same team, with an attitude of mutual trust and respect, is essential.
This topic was discussed during a recent Friday night Global GT Chat. Teachers and parents alike agreed that, ”... the best approach to a positive relationship was to begin communication early in the school year (even before the school starts is better) and not wait until problems arose. Parents and teachers should talk to each other directly; not through their child/student. Both teachers and parents need a ‘good news’ attitude ... don’t limit conversations to problems. Adopt a team mind-set ... everyone should be invested in a student’s success!”
As parents and educators of gifted kids, to have a successful partnership, I think we also need to have a common language and understanding of the needs of gifted and the best practices in gifted education. I don’t know how many times I have heard from fellow parents, “They’re not doing anything for my gifted child since the once-a-week gifted pull-out (or other visible gifted service) stopped.” What these parents didn’t know was that their students’ academic needs may have been met with effective and seamless differentiation strategies on a daily basis. Unfortunately, because of a failure to effectively communicate what strategies were being used, what should have been a great school year all too often deteriorated into an attitude of “We can’t wait until this year is over.” In my experience, parents who understand what to expect for their gifted student, and who have opportunities to discuss the topic with others, are less likely to make such statements.
So how do we achieve a common language and understanding about gifted matters? One of the best ways that I know of is by educators and parents attending gifted conferences like WATG’s 2014 conference “Getting to the Core: Gifted Matters” on October 7-8 in Wisconsin Dells. In my experience, the more my child’s teacher and I knew about the needs of the gifted and current best practices in gifted education, the more we could support one another in meeting the needs of gifted kids in our school.
I confess that I didn’t attend many conferences or seminars when my kids were younger. Often I didn’t think the content would be relevant or worth my effort, time and money. Was I wrong! Besides learning what I could through keynote and breakout sessions, the one thing I hadn’t considered was how powerful it was to be in a room filled with people that I could talk with about my kids. I didn’t have to couch my questions or concerns because they all ‘got’ it. I had found a place, that as a gifted child’s parent, I could just be me.
Please share information about our conference with the parents and teachers of gifted kids in your schools. We have a special rate for parent attendees. This year we will have two keynote speakers. On Thursday, Dr. Jonathan Plucker will present a keynote session “Closing Wisconsin’s Excellence Gaps”; on Friday, Dr. Diane Heacox will present a keynote “Making Differentiation a Habit”, as well as two breakout sessions about differentiation. If parents and teachers have a common language and understanding about how to meet the needs of gifted kids in school, the path to student success is so much easier to travel.