It’s World Teachers' Day today, so a big THANK YOU to all teachers in Ireland and across the globe! I hope you continue to inspire and be inspired by your students every day.
As a parent I am grateful for the many inspiring teachers in whose classrooms my children have spent time. I am amazed at their patience, commitment and dedication to the children they teach. Many of them go way beyond the call of duty in providing support, extra-curricular activities, supervision hours and a determination to help students succeed. My son’s History teacher is a fine example. His enthusiasm for his subject is infectious, his story-telling legendary, his commitment to helping a classroom full of teenage boys see the value of history in their modern high-tech world is fantastic. One of those brave souls who volunteers to travel on school trips (and even appears to enjoy them!), his influence is such that my 2nd Year son has already decided to take History as a Leaving Cert subject as long as his teacher is Mr. Carey. This is one great teacher! And I am lucky that my children’s schools are full of teachers like this; able to reach their students in a myriad of different ways.
My children are also Exceptionally Able which can make for a different experience of our school system. There is, I think, a growing awareness that gifted children have quite distinct and different needs. Supporting those children in a meaningful way without compromising the needs of others and balancing scarce resources is the hard part. Being able to identify which children are gifted is the first step. As a parent of Exceptionally Able children there are a few things of which I wish more of our teachers were aware. Here are five things which might ease the way for these students for whom our educational system is not best suited;
- The Exceptionally Able are not always the high-achievers in the classroom, and the high-achievers are not always Exceptionally Able. Spotting EA students is not an easy task. It would be a great leap forward if schools and teachers could make it their mission to be able to recognize gifted pupils.
- We (their parents) often know a lot about our particular children and giftedness in general. We have often spent many hours researching giftedness from classroom strategies to friendship or social issues to help us raise these different children. Use us, we’d love to help.
- Work is not supposed to be too easy. If our children always get 100% please make it more difficult for them, otherwise they will fall apart when they finally face a challenge that doesn’t come easy. See our post on Vygotsky’s ZPD for more.
- Playing to my child’s strengths gives him or her confidence to tackle any weaknesses, the other way around does not. You’ve probably all already seen this clip about how unique all our children are, but it really says it all.
- These students could often go far far beyond what the curriculum, the classroom or the teacher can offer. I understand the limits within which you have to operate, so do these students. By the simple act of letting them know you recognize their ability you can give a powerful message that they are understood and valued.
But most of all; Thank You, for giving my children and hundreds of others the gift of life-long learning. That is priceless.