I vividly remember the morning of 9/11/2001 and the days that followed. Every morning I gathered for a morning meeting with the gifted students in my K-5 gifted pullout program. We would gather together on the colorful rug in the classroom library and reconnect after a week apart, sharing pieces of ourselves, and HEALING.
These young gifted students came to school after watching the news with tears in their eyes, and the weight of the world on their shoulders because of all of the destruction of the terror attack on US soil. With a heightened awareness of the world around them, these images left them feeling powerless because they wanted to help but felt unable to do anything at all. Their minds were grown up but trapped in an eight-year-old body with a sense of very little power to make a difference.
I think about the gifted children in the classrooms around the world today and the teachers who will help them heal. In the United States students are seeing pictures of the devastation from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the destruction from wildfires in the western states, plus monsoon flooding in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. And these are just the weather related incidents and do not account for the massive earthquake in Mexico, Kim Jung-un, and pictures of 9/11 anniversary video. These images are outside of their immediate influence but there is also the pain occurring within their communities, schools, families, and even within themselves. Young people are hurting and teachers are in a unique position to heal their hearts so they can learn, grow, and develop into self-reliant young adults.
The servant-leader has the ability to transform the situation and create a classroom community of healing. An ability to understand the cognitive, social, and emotional needs facing today’s gifted students, is a critical teacher attribute that can help teachers create a safe classroom environment where students are nurtured and healing occurs. The purpose of this article is to share four healing strategies teachers can leverage to become a fierce ally to gifted students. These strategies can be used by parents also to build improve their relationship with their child.
Respond in a healing manner when problems arise- Responding in a healing manner when problems arise comes from listening and responding to the needs of each student in a way that promotes healing body, mind, or spirit. Through words of encouragement and a calm presence, the teacher can encourage healing, perhaps healing brokenness caused by years of feeling alienated and radically different from their age appropriate peers.
Conveying understanding through body language- Conveying understanding through body language is part of intensely listening and focusing on the person. People will respond to not only your words but how you present yourself. Mirror their body language to create a connection and make time to be with them through the difficult emotions.
Create a safe place to explore feelings- Creating a safe place to explore feelings encourages the healing process. The servant leader understands where students are in the journey of life and help to soften the blows of rejection and failure that may come along the way. The safe space may come as a morning meeting. This ritual creates a classroom culture of healing, promoting authenticity, genuine caring, and respect for every student.
Help them find an intellectual peer- Helping gifted children find an intellectual peer is one of the most powerful gifts you can give a child. Gifted students are more different from one another than they are alike, but within the school community, a teacher can likely help them find an intellectual peer with a shared affinity. Fostering this relationship helps both children move out of isolation and become interdependent within the school community, facilitating healthy social and emotional development.
At Gifted Resources, we believe teachers are Servant Leaders in the classroom and parents are the Servant Leaders in the home.
Healing is one disposition of a servant leader that when leveraged properly, will create a classroom environment where gifted students will thrive. This week, practice one of these strategies to become a fierce ally to the gifted students you serve. Share the results in the comments below or on social media using the hashtag #giftedresources I am looking forward to hearing more about how you are transforming education for the students you serve.