I have had the opportunity to speak at CAGT (Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented) for a few years, and was given the chance to do so this year during their first virtual conference. Usually, I spend time networking, talking with other educators, other speakers, and overall being among my tribe who know and understand both me and the kids we all choose to serve. I miss out on things like the art contests, and don’t always pay close enough attention to the performances unless they’re part of a keynote I’m attending.
This year, because CAGT’s conference was virtual, I was able to really look at the work that students from around Colorado had submitted. I’m amazed. Kids from all over our state, from young ones to high school aged kids, took the idea of “A Wider Lens of Gifted” and ran with it, creating amazing pieces of art, music, and performance. Go here to check out some of the work from this year’s conference.
When we are looking at kids for identification, we see those who stand out academically so much easier. Those who are writing multi-chapter stories or reading Harry Potter in Kindergarten, working math problems well above grade level for fun, kids who are passionate about particular topics and know everything to know about whales, and kids who excel on assessments are easy to spot. It’s those kids who have talents beyond academics that we often don’t recognize as gifted.
Look at the kids you have with you over the next couple of weeks. Really see them.
Who plays an instrument?
Who sings in a choir at church?
Who goes to clown school after school?
Who plays club sport and excels?
Who is a scout and demonstrates leadership and service to the community?
Who plays outside and shows their ability to be incredibly bendy and flexible?
Who feels the music in their bones when it plays?
Who simply cannot stop moving when thinking? Who talks and interacts with their whole body?
Who builds and builds and sees things on a completely different spatial level? What “builds” are sitting on your desk, given as gifts, or taken from them because they were creating while you were teaching?
Who doodles? Really LOOK at the doodles…what do you see? A sense of space? line? proportion?
Who is the performer in your group of kids? Who lives for the dramatic?
These are the kids we want to catch. It’s not just cool that they play violin or perform in the church choir… It’s that they have been playing violin by ear since age 3 and can see colors in the music they hear or sing and have perfect pitch. It’s not simply a neat thing that they enjoy drawing or color, but that they’re precise in their drawings and intricate in their detail and able to create a story with their use of color. It’s that child who choreographs as the music plays because their body feels and experiences every note distinctly. It’s that child who sees opportunity in challenge and makes a plan to address it.
These are the kids you can create bodies of evidence over time for formal identification in dance, performing arts, music, sport, visual arts, and leadership. Having a relationship with the kids you serve matters…you can play to these areas of strength and offer opportunities for them to use their strengths in their learning… Be open to alternative assignments and methods of learning.
When we truly SEE our gifted kids for who they are and not what they produce, we can create the learning environment that they will thrive in.