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Saturday, February 11, 2006

 

Surprises

I must confess to a little hubris. I've done quite a few workshops lately with gifted kids and even some work with gifted adults, and I was starting to feel that I'd got the whole thing under control.

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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Comments:
Just wanted to stop in and say hello to a fellow Canadian..

-hugs and happy weekend-
 
to be young bright and overexcitable....
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 and hugs to you too, Newfie Girl!

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.
 
My son has Autism Spectrum Disorder and is also gifted. It's difficult to address his giftedness because of his language disorder.

Um, so, yeah. There.
 
I can atest that from the teacher standpoint dealing with such 'energy' day in and day out in the 'regular' classroom is indeed exhausting and very challenging for creating meaningful educational experiences.
 
Hmmmm, I definitely agree that finding a way to direct the excitable energy of kiddos is the key. No frontal assaults on the stampeding herd of rhinos--more deflecting the direction of the herd through small corrections. Sort of a mob dynamics jujitsu?

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?

Regards,
ShutteredEye
 
Thanks for all the comments. It's always great to hear when others identify with my strange little world!

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!
 
I'd like to share, in a nutshell, the perspective of a parent with two "two-ies" (twice exeptional) kids and as an adult "two-ie" myself. We were fortunate to find a school for twice exeptional kids in our hometown- there are only a handful in the world!!! Some great resources for you to check out are- the Gifted Development Center in Denver (or anything written by the founder, Linda Silverman, who diagnosed our oldest), and any articles written by Marlo Rice, the director of our school. Unfortunately, because of financial issues, the school will be closing at least this school year. The prospect of putting my highest-needs daughter back in the school system is unnerving. It is really disturbing to realize how few teachers and professionals in the school systems understand that 2E kids exsist (even our public school principal seems to think that gifted and disabilities are mutually exclusive), let alone how unique their needs are. Most people think that if a child is gifted, they should be able to fend for themselves. No two 2E kids are alike, which makes them a challenging but fascinating group. Best of luck to you, and thank you for reaching out to this population!!!!!!
 
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