Teacher's Corner: After the Fireworks

“Experience teaches only the teachable."  -Aldous Huxley

With the first days of school just weeks away, even the most seasoned educator feels a variety of emotions. I am about to embark in my nineteenth year as an educator, and I’m excited for the hustle and bustle of the daily work with new classes and groups of students, each so different from the other in learning styles, interests, and expectations.  

Many readers can relate to the annual ebb and flow of the educational profession, but there are those out there who will step into a classroom for the very first time. While some have been made aware of “what to look for” in each of their students, research has shown that teachers entering the field often do not possess the curricular planning, affective instruction, and overall awareness of characteristics needed to create an atmosphere of learning for all students, whether it be a homogenous or heterogeneous assortment.

TC_Jeff8-8-17.pngHuxley’s quote speaks to essential parts of any classroom or educational environment, the occurrence of experience and the motivation to learn from it. Whether through direct instruction, hands-on activity, discussion, or presentation, teachers provide the means and the time for experience to happen. The key lies in helping students become more interested, more excited and motivated, more “teachable”, a process that can be accomplished with the tools and strategies the field of gifted education has to offer. Appealing to individual learning styles and interests can instill a comfort level among all students, who should want to come to class ready to be “taught.” Let us make it so.

If you are in need of information on ways to differentiate in your classroom, a visit to the e-learning pages of the NAGC website is a great place to start.  There you will find a mini-course, free to members, called The Musts of Differentiation as well as archived webinars on effective classroom practice for gifted students. Teachers can also find information relating to gifted education practices, standards, and supplementary resources for educators.

I have had a wonderful two months off and during that time I have had the pleasure of travelling to two of the largest gifted conferences in the country, as both a presenter and an attendee. I have conversed with hundreds of educators, sharing information and ideas. It is clear to me that those involved in the field of gifted education, at any level, are continually searching for ways to uncover, develop, encourage, and enrich students of high potential. Each and every one of them should be proud of their efforts!

For those of you waiting for an update of my “To-Do” list from June’s issue, here goes:

  • I visited many used bookstores, finding a great copy of Alan Lightman’s Einstien’s Dreams.
  • Came up with a good idea and wrote a well-received Teacher’s Corner for July.
  • Talked with many educators over too many cups of coffee to count.
  • Explained the principles of gifted education to many folks who don’t really know what it is all about.
  • Read the July issue of Gifted Child Quarterly.
  • Thought of something new to teach, and have started planning for it.
  • Encouraged a few educators to present at or attend a conference.
  • Still planning for the opening of school.
  • Relaxed as often as possible with family and friends. 

Have a great start to the school year! I hope to see many of you at the NAGC 64th Annual Conference in Charlotte, NC.

Till September…  

Jeff Danielian is the director of the La Salle Scholars Program in Providence, Rhode Island, and the editor-in-chief of Teaching for High Potential.