Schools today approach teaching and learning in many different ways. That is usually why what works for a particular student in one school district does not work for another student. There are many reasons for this including individual student traits such as motivation, learning styles, and persistence; and district influences such as teaching and learning approach, education philosophy, and level of learning expectations. Sometimes gifted students attend school districts and are in classrooms where they need to make their own decisions about their learning and they need to make teachers aware of these decisions.
That is where self-advocacy comes in. The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), and the disability community has a long history of awareness and research on the topic of self-advocacy skills for students with disabilities. Recently, they have started sharing information that is applicable to all students. Their work certainly may apply to gifted students who are considered exceptional learners. The NCLD (2018) states that their “…definition of self-advocacy as a set of skills based on self-knowledge, including awareness of personal strengths and limitations, knowledge of one’s rights and the ability to communicate this understanding.” Gifted students who know and can implement these skills to advocate for themselves will be better able to make their needs known in school. When learning self-advocacy skills students learn other important skills also such as self-awareness, communication, and leadership among others. These are skills that will benefit the student throughout their life.
The NCLD suggests intentionally teaching self-advocacy skills to students to help them inform their teachers of what they need to learn. Teachers may not know what gifted students need or what they can do to help gifted students learn. It helps to be informed by the gifted student themselves rather than parents so the gifted student takes responsibility for their own learning, something that is expected in college.
Self-Advocacy skills are important for all students, but especially for students with exceptionalities including gifted students. Below are a few resources related to self-advocacy.
Self-Advocacy for Gifted Teens and Tweens: How to Help Gifted Teens Take Control of Their Classroom Experience
Teaching Strategies to Build Self-Advocacy
Empower Gifted Learners to Advocate for Themselves
Agents of Their Own Success: Self-Advocacy Skills and Self-Determination for Students with Disabilities in the Era of Personalized Learning, (2018), National Center for Learning Disabilities.
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