For the past 13 years we worked with the school system to set him up for success. We taught him to ask questions, modeled quality feedback and how to self advocate. Ninety-five percent of the time he was happy with the learning path he was provided and so were we. He is the kind of student that is easy to teach—he soaks in information and makes connections for himself and is able to help others see those connections. He is the kind of student every teacher loves. But this isn’t the case for many students.
Many students don’t find success with school or the system. They hit roadblock after roadblock. They might not have the “right” learning disposition. Their parents might not know how to help advocate for them. Or, their parents do know how to advocate but the way the system is set up becomes the roadblock to learning.
I am convinced that EVERY stakeholder wants students to succeed. I am also convinced it is fear of failure or making a mistake that holds students—parents—educators—or the system back. Sometimes parents are afraid to push the system too hard because for fear of “retaliation”. Sometimes teachers are afraid to accelerate learning because “playing it safe” is safe. Making that mistake that may negatively impact a student down the road is a scary thought. Sometimes the big picture gets lost in the details.
I am also convinced that students who learn in significantly different ways or at a different pace than what is typical are in need of strong advocates. Warm demanders; those who gently but firmly help guide and change the learning path for our most needy students. Many, many parents of students with learning disabilities are warm demanders. How do parents of students with gifts and talents become warm demanders, too?
So as we begin this year please consider partnering together, parents and educators toward answering or finding solutions to these questions:
Why do we say no?
What has to happen for us to say, “YES!” to students?
How can we work—together to make that happen?
I am over the top excited about the upcoming Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted WATG annual conference at the Wilderness Resort October 13 & 14. I want to connect with you and the ideas you have to change education so more of our students get what they need more often. Registration is going on right now at www.watg.org . Parents, YOU can register at a reduced fee!
Below are a few articles on focused on advocating for OUR children!
When your Child is Bored at School
How to Advocate for a Kid in a State with No Funding
Banish Boredom from School for your Gifted Child
What to do if your Child isn’t Challenged in School
Advocate for High Ability Learners
A Black Father’s Lessons in Getting Sons in Gifted Education Program