How do you teach the gifted students that have cognitive abilities above and beyond the rest of the students? In fact, if they are gifted high school students, their knowledge might even eclipse the teacher’s own. This leads to another problem: How do you teach someone smarter than you are?
As educators, we have to teach to a variety of students in our classroom. We can’t always just present a one size fits all curriculum for all students simply because you have kids that are struggling, ones that are performing at the average level, and then the students that are considered gifted. The key is to find a way to reach all of the students as best as you can with your time in the classroom.
The good news is that everyone can learn something from even the most unlikeliest of people. I’ve talked with little kids and came away from the conversation with a new perspective on things. There is a very good chance that you have as well. And you probably bring much more to the table than a seven-year-old.
So How Should You Approach Teaching Gifted Students?
There is not one certain way you should go about teaching the gifted students in your class. After all, the students themselves are probably gifted in different ways. But what you must always remember to do in your lesson plans is to create ways to challenge them academically above and beyond what the rest of the students are doing. Listed below are a few ways to make your lessons more interesting and inspiring to your gifted students.
Meet with The Gifted Students Individually Early On When Possible
If you can find what your gifted students are interested in, then you should come away with an idea on how to make the curriculum stand out and challenge them more. For instance, if they have a love of technology, let them use it to advance the lesson more. If you are asking the students to write a one-page essay about some topic, have the gifted kids write the essay and put it together also in one of the numerous presentation apps out there.
Allow Them to Help Others that Are Struggling
Have you ever taught a lesson and by the time you finished with it, you understood the material much better yourself? This seems to happen to me about once a week. If you encourage the gifted students to help the ones that are struggling with the lesson, there is a very good chance they will walk away with a better understanding of the topic themselves.
Have Appropriately Leveled Books Available
If you are teaching junior high literature and only have books at that level in your classroom, your gifted students could become a little bored. Have enough books available at their reading level that they should find interesting. However, don’t push these books on them. Let them decide what they would like to read. After all, even though my reading level is pretty high and I have a Masters in Reading and Literacy, I still enjoy reading graphic novels or young fiction.
Keep This in Mind
Just because a student is gifted does not mean they are gifted in everything. As an example, I was great (tooting my own horn here) at reading and spelling when I was a kid, but my math skills were a little below average. Think about what you excel at and then consider the subjects you struggle with. A student may be gifted in mathematics and still not be the best reader in the class or vice versa. You can’t expect them to be a walking and talking genius at everything.
Work with Their Parents
Their parents will know the strengths and weaknesses of their child more than you will. They should be able to provide you insight on ways to challenge the student without overwhelming them. After all, you don’t want to frustrate the student simply because they are gifted by throwing extra work at them. Find a happy medium between challenging them and allowing them to work right along with the rest of the students.