The greatest advice I can offer is to discover that one thing in life that you love, become really good at it, and find someone to pay you to do it.
My area of expertise is how to leverage free technology apps to differentiate the curriculum for gifted learners. Leading professional development workshops, I have come to learn that for many teachers understanding giftedness, knowing how to use technology tools, and differentiating the curriculum to meet the needs of every student are unfamiliar and unchartered territories leading to fear and trepidation.
When teachers join my professional development sessions, it is my responsibility to be the best steward of their time, talent, and resources by listening and empathizing with their needs, being aware of what is needed, persuading them to become lifelong learners, and fully committing to their growth.
The characteristics outlined above align with the servant leadership characteristics needed to become a fierce ally for those you teach. The purpose of this article is to help you build a high level of awareness in order to grow and develop the students you serve.
The beauty of this advice is parents can adapt these strategies and use them at home to improve relationships with their gifted children.
Below are three strategies teachers can leverage to become a fierce ally to gifted students.
Acknowledge personal areas of weakness: Acknowledging areas of weakness allows the teacher to be human and acknowledge their shortcomings. This level of awareness requires bravery to search and find those areas of your life you may not want to come face to face with. One needs to investigate all parts of themselves in order to be able to help others do the same. Facing each day with a lack of ego and focusing on what is best for the students is the greatest gift you can give yourself and others. This means that you must be willing to come alongside your students and learn from them. Students sometimes know more than their teacher and that is okay.
Know students enough to meet them where they are in the learning process- Knowing students enough to meet them where they are in the learning process is the ability to be keenly aware of each child in order to make educational decisions based on the needs of the learner at that moment. This requires you to build a relationship with the student. Students want relationships with teachers that care about them. Show you care by asking questions coupled with a deep desire to listen to what is being said, and in some cases, what is left unsaid.
Teach to a child’s strength- Teaching to a person’s strengths allows the student to build on skills they already possess and have a natural talent toward. Imagine if people were encouraged to work on those areas where they are already functioning in the top 75th percentile. These are the areas that are going to give people the greatest leverage in post-secondary aspirations. I will never compete as an Olympic level gymnast, no matter how much support I receive, but I can outperform others in delivering an engaging training session. Gifted students are exceptional in at least one area. Help them find a coach or mentor who can guide them in that area and the payoff in post-secondary opportunities that come from that focused time and attention will be tremendous.
Over the next three months, join me as we learn to leverage Servant Leadership characteristics to become a fierce ally to the gifted students. Cheers to a vibrant, interactive school year.