Saturday, February 11, 2006
Then, along came a group that I was totally unprepared for. It was a big group, the first time they had ever been together, and they were in a new place with new teachers (me, and the gifted resource teacher). They were very young and some of them clearly had difficulty staying focused even when they wanted to.
It was one of those times when I simply had to throw the plan out of the window and improvise the teaching. Once I had recovered from the shock of all this unrestrained energy, I changed tack to some very physical activities to take the edge off the nervous excitment. I started to switch activities every five minutes just to keep them engaged. I ditched a whole bunch of games and even made up some completely new versions. It was exhausting and fascinating for me, and hopefully fun for the kids.
Luckily, I get another chance with this particular group. I'm busy reading all I can on ADD, ADHD, and other disorders to get some specific ideas on how to deal with the focus issue. I am humbled to think that some teachers have to deal with this with only a few hours of training on the needs of gifted kids and practically no information on twice-exceptional (2E) kids - those with a learning disability who are also gifted. The challenge is to make it rich and enjoyable for every kid in this very diverse class.
I do love a good challenge!
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as a veteran of working with kids like that, I structure class time around many different activities happening at once.....from adult led, to child group initiated, to independently initiated
....this way kids can move around, explore, practice leadership skills, create and share
I've found that most children thrive in this type of learning environment
btw....teaching very young children is always challenging!
Thanks for the tip, ima. That is what the kids tended toward, anyway - breaking off into small groups to play or read whenever the action flagged. I'll plan for it in to the next session.
Um, so, yeah. There.
However, the caveat I'd like to bring up is that of your mention of ADD/ADHD. If you truly think you are dealing with kids that are dealing with these syndromes, your attempts in finding ways to keep them stimulated may be only making things worse. As you may well be discovering in your research, there is significant cutting edge thinking that has identified that these kids are actually WAY overstimulated in portions of their brains. In effect they are over riding their circuitry, and possibly even "blowing them out." As neurology advances, and we understand more about how the brain works, we may find that like our food diets, our neurological diet, (neurological stimulation having been shown to have a trophic effect in the brain) may well be that of junk. In fact we may be morbidly neurological obese, if you will. Just thought I'd bring the idea up.
One question for you though--as a gifted individual I find myself torn seeking my true vocation. As you I am sure have experienced, I can competently master an infinite number of capacities. How would you advise someone to discover what it is that they are truly meant to do? For example, is it a disservice to society for me, capable of excelling as a neurosurgeon, to instead pursue say, photography? In your opinion is it a waste of talent or resources, so to speak?
shutteredeye, I have been reading about the overstimulation issue. Reflecting on this and my experience to date, I am planning to give clear structure about what I will be doing and what else is appropriate for the hour - written down on the board before the kids come in, and then walking them around the various areas. I'm learning that the less I speak, the more impact it has when I do! As for your other point about vocation....I'm going to post on it tomorrow. Thanks for your input!