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Teaching a Gifted Child in the Classroom !
Every class has a heterogeneous group of students. You always have 68% Average students and 16% Above Average and 16% Below Average. This is best represented by a Normal Probability Curve. One of the biggest challenges of a teacher is to reach out to all students in the class. This is possible only by organising Teaching Activities at various levels of the continuum. We have to have some activities compulsory for all and then either offer a choice of activities to the children or else make a particular activity mandatory for a child.
A gifted child is very precious and needs to be handled properly. We need to ascertain that the child is really gifted and then find out his special abilities and interests. Gifted students have particular behaviour characteristics and we have to keep their interest levels high by challenging them with Enrichment and Accelerated programmes. They need challenges and they are quicker at the uptake. Hence while the teacher is teaching the average, the gifted child is bound to feel uncomfortable. Since, in the situation you are teaching; we do not find many such gifted in a single class; there is no possibility of grouping them. But we can group students who are gifted from each class and assign them tasks, projects and assignments as per their abilities. The school needs to be innovative and provide these students opportunities of working with their classmates for major time of the School Day and then for a specific period with the Group of Gifted students. This will need teachers who understand the gifted students and have knowledge of teaching techniques for the gifted. Some schools have separate sections of the same class for the Gifted. Some call these Sections as the Ability Sections. Some have Co-teachers assigned the responsibility of catering to the academic needs of the Below Average and devising strategies for the gifted. Fortunately, I have had an opportunity of observing these practices in several schools over a period of time. I would not like to undermine their contribution but, in all honesty, I must admit that these have been mere gimmicks and have done more harm than good. We have acute shortage of efficient teachers who can teach the gifted students.
Under the circumstances, I suggest:
- Identification of the Gifted is done objectively after Psychological Testing.
- A programme for catering to the Gifted is made at the very beginning of the Session.
- Teacher assigned with the responsibility of handling such a child is made aware of the Characteristics of a Gifted Child and Trained/Mentored in Teaching Strategies that need to be adopted for teaching the gifted.
- No change is required to be made in either the School Timings or Period Wise Timings.
- In fact, some Programmes of Teaching the Gifted would surely benefit other students also and enable them to enhance their Academic Achievements.
I would conclude by saying that ultimately the whole exercise will be determined by the Giftedness of the Child, the Extent and the Potentialities of his being Gifted, the environment in which he is being educated and brought up, the facilities existing in the School and the availability of competent and committed teachers to handle such a child.
A personal request to you if you are facing the problem: “Please consider each child in your Class gifted. Treat and teach them as if they all were Geniuses. I assure you, they will not disappoint you”. I have Research based Evidence of Psychological Experiments to make this request to you.