In December last year, I was asked to write a letter to a gifted young woman as part of ’21 letters’ to celebrate her 21st birthday. When I sat down to write a blog on Celebrating Giftedness, I knew that I wanted to share a quote from that letter.
“You were the first person that I ever fought for and I did it because you gave me the strength to. And it changed my life.”
She was one of many amazing (or sometimes interesting) students that I have had the privilege of knowing. And every one of them has influenced my life.
From my experience working as a facilitator, there is nothing more powerful than authentic student voice from the school’s context. I vividly remember one twice-exceptional boy saying “the teachers here see the curriculum as a path through the forest, and there is only one path. They don’t see that we could make our own way through the forest, which would be more interesting, and still end up at the same destination.” This quote sparked powerful change within the staffroom, because it came from their “kid”.
Giving students choices is an excellent start towards meaningful student agency and this small change can begin to improve the quality of teaching for gifted students.
In the first of these articles on student voice, I mentioned that often “your intent does not equal your impact”. This is a frequent occurrence in schools where teachers are well meaning and have the best intentions but are not quite ‘hitting the mark’ in regards to truly meeting the needs of their gifted and talented students. This is why measuring the impact is so important and there is no more powerful way to do this than to run student focus groups.