¨Hands-On, Minds On, Now More than Ever¨ is more than a theme for the upcoming Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted conference; it is a rallying call for our work as advocates for Gifted and Talented Students. The WATG board, under the leadership of Jackie Drummer, Past President and current Board Advisor, crafted a statement about the importance of equity for all students. In that statement, we wrote: “As an organization, we are cognizant of the inequities in the identification and educational programming for gifted students of color.” The truth of this statement is jarring. Dr. Marcia Gentry, one of the keynote speakers at our upcoming fall virtual conference, notes that limited seating availability and lack of local normative data leads to gifted students from underrepresented backgrounds lacking access to appropriate services.
We continued our statement observing that “WATG is devoted to examining and rectifying these disparities.” One of the ways we do this is through adult education. This organization reaches out to parents, educators, administrators, and political leaders locally and nationally. We aim to provide tools based on research regarding the importance of providing equitable learning opportunities for all students through educational outreach. Dr. Brian Housand, another keynote speaker at our fall virtual conference, provides practical tools that encourage and empower students and their advocates to work collaboratively for a better future.
Furthermore, “WATG pledges to do our part to dismantle structural and institutional racism.” Parents and advocates for gifted students need to feel comfortable with the adage that we all succeed when everyone has access to the best possible education. Two parent/guardian workshops at our virtual fall conference will focus on families and advocates. One is entitled Parent to Parent, and will be a facilitated discussion, allowing parents to share ideas and strategies that work with gifted children. A second workshop, Growth Mindset for Gifted Kids, will focus on strategies to develop growth mindset in gifted children. Both of these workshops will offer insights into the unique traits that define this population, including a heightened sense of right and wrong, a demand for perfection, and a desire to make the world a better place.
A critical component of educational equity is building cultural capital. All students deserve learning environments that encourage and promote inquiry. The variety of workshops at our fall virtual conference will offer strategies, introduce topics, and inspire creative leadership for all participants. We at WATG ended our social justice statement by “inviting partnerships with other institutions, groups, and individuals to share conversations about the impacts of race, and we will work to listen, learn, and support each other in this critical process of changing our world.” Joining our organization and attending the 2020 Conference will enable us to create a stronger coalition of advocates working to create equitable opportunities for all gifted and talented learners in the state of Wisconsin.
We look forward to seeing you!
Maria Katsaros-Molzahn, Board Member