Teacher's Corner: Each Year is Like Beginning Anew

With the first days of school just a short time away, even the most seasoned teacher feels a variety of emotions. I am about to embark on my eighteenth year in education, and while excited for the hustle and bustle of daily planning, instructing, evaluating, and encouraging my students, I still feel a bit of hesitation about getting to know a whole new group of them. They come to me with different interests, learning styles, and preferences, and from a variety of backgrounds, situations, and experiences. Apart from instruction and skill development, they will need individualized attention when it comes to their affective needs.8-1-16 Teacher's Corner.png

A visit to a conference or participation in other professional development activities during the year can enrich any educator, regardless of experience. The trick, of course, is taking the time to make it happen.  Standard 6 of the NAGC Pre-K-Grade 12 Gifted Education Programming Standards provides the foundation necessary to plan for successful professional development. In addition, there is a set of guiding questions intended to help focus your thinking.

Most recently, the U.S. Congress highlighted the importance of professional development through provisions written for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Upon their release, NAGC’s Jane Clarenbach noted, “For the first time, the needs of gifted and talented students are included in the teacher training provisions of the bill (Title II).  States will be required to include in their plans a description of how they will use the Title II professional development funds to improve the teaching skills of school professionals in identifying the specific learning needs of gifted students and in tailoring academic instruction to those needs.” Let us hope that this and other positive actions result in the change we need.

I had the pleasure of travelling to two of the largest summer gifted conferences in the country, Confratute, at the University of Connecticut and Edufest, on the campus of Boise State in Idaho, as both a presenter and an attendee. During my time there, I talked with many educators, sharing information, stories, and ideas. I was motivated and inspired by the variety of keynotes, presentations, and workshops, and I will make it a point to spread the tools and messages I gained, from both strangers and friends. It is my responsibility.

Throughout the years I have come to realize that each year is like beginning anew. The material and overall theme of the material remains similar over the years; however, the experience for those seated before me is always different. Questions dictate discussion. Preferences and attitudes determine group dynamic. Levels of knowledge demonstrate competency, and as students become comfortable with the material, the information uncovered and creative problem solving is often times unique in nature. Each day is full of excitement and challenge.

Many readers can relate to the flexibility educators need as they interact with their students and classrooms, but there are others for whom this year will be the first time they step into a classroom as teachers. While many of them have been made aware of “what to look for” in all of their students, research has shown that many entering the field do not possess the simple curricular planning, affective infusion, and overall awareness of characteristics needed to create an atmosphere of learning for all students. A consistent plan for a continuum of professional development is needed.

As long as those involved in the field of gifted education search for ways to uncover, develop, and encourage students of high potential, resources intended to educate and inform need to available  and disseminated. Some of the best resources the field has to offer can be found on the NAGC Back-to-School Resource Roundup. This toolkit organizes some of the Best of the Best, while at the same time re-introducing readers to what the NAGC website has to offer. There is truly something for everyone.

I wish you a great start to the school year and hope to see many of you at the annual convention in Walt Disney World® this November. 

Till September…