Small things make a big difference…
Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the opening session for the Tasmanian Association for the Gifted (TAG) conference Empower Me. The session was titled Small Things Make a Big Difference to the Gifted and was presented by Carmel M Diezmann. This session did not provide me with any major light bulb moments in relation to the gifted, I think this is due to the fact that I have been very fortunate in recent years to have worked with a dedicated team that focussed on the gifted and hence many of the concepts mentioned I had come across previously. This does not mean the time I spent at the session was a waste of time, more so it meant that I needed to dig a little deeper as I believe that there is something to be gained from all PL that one attends, it just takes time to work it out sometimes.
It is often the case that those who have gifted children want them to be challenged, and rightly so! Not to mention the fact that there is a concern that their children are regularly made to practice concepts that they already know and have known for some time, so justifiably question the reasons.
So what do I take away from this and what can be applied to all students, not just the gifted?
Much was said about personalising gifted students learning, taking an interest in them and their interests and from that providing alternatives in their learning program. These don’t have to be anything too inventive, rather something small that identifies their needs. For example when looking at history, allowing them the chance to pursue an in-depth look at a particular person of interest might prove to be rewarding as they will easily pick up the surrounding events, which you as the teacher might believe to be vital to the curriculum, with ease.
The underlying principle I am picking up from this is that there is importance to be placed on personalising learning and connecting with the students needs, is this not something we should be doing with all students?
In saying that, how do I do this for the 226 students that I teach each week across 9 classes?
Knowing that I am not the only teacher for each of the 226 students lightens the load somewhat, but does it? Should I not be personalising the learning for each student in the classes that I teach and what about the gifted student, the student with specific learning needs whether it is due to ESL (English as a Second Language) or a disability/impairment?
So what small things really make a big difference?
Off the top of my head I believe that being flexible in your approach is vital, what happens when you as the teacher are challenged beyond your perceived capabilities?
I am interested in hearing your thoughts, what do you do to make a difference? How do you manage it? What does it look like?
Below are some ideas that were presented at the conference session:
Stories of Discovery and Invention
- Marvels of Science
- Marvels of Maths (both can be found on Amazon)