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Disrupting Deficit Narratives on Gifted Children of Diverse Backgrounds

  So many adults have mystified gifted and talented children who don’t fit the profile norms of average children. It is easy to make quick and generalized remarks about gifted children in the era of mass production of compliance and mediocrity taken root since the Industrial Revolution.  It is even more common for many adults to make deficit-laden remarks of gifted children who are Black & brown, poor, multi-lingual, or Twice-Exceptional. I breathe, smell, and eat them every day. We can do a better job of proactively disrupting the deficit-driven language used to describe gifted children from diverse backgrounds. Goings and Ford (2018) found out that even the research done by various scholars of gifted & talented programs for the past decade didn’t reach that far to change the deficit narrative. Instead of dedicating their research on what the children’s experiences with the gifted program were like and examining how the school system can shift to develop their potential, most of them focused on what these gifted children lacked and how to “lift them up” to fit what was inequitable and inaccessible in the first place. Here are some practical ways I have tried to start disrupting the deficit-narrative embedded in my community: Find out…. who the faces of gifted children from diverse backgrounds are in school and community. Who are the faces of underrepresented gifted children in your school or district? They can be students of color, poverty, learning disabilities, and […]

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My Extreme Learners

I remember Santiago, the old fisherman who brought his mangled hand and the half-eaten marlin back ashore. For days and nights, he fought back against that fish even if that meant the fish was to be eaten up by sharks. From the outsiders, he was an up-to-go-good man with nothing to share but what he found was the battle within himself — the ultimate reward a man could have. He fought for it and he brought that game back home. You think to yourself that old man was crazy to bring a fishbone back home. Yes, he is an extreme learner. A man who is not afraid to sail out to see what’s awaiting him, a man who believes that exploration is an outward sign of inner strength and battles. A man who marches to his own drumbeat, a man who is not afraid to get to a different place than what he had planned. So are some middle schoolers. They might or might not do well academically or perhaps share little about their school life. Their lens constantly shifts and turns like ocean waves. Some have masked their motivation underneath refusing to share with you for the fear of judgment or being questioned by the adults around them. Their passion isn’t just about taking classes that interest them but actually starting with a driving question using the world as their text, foreseeing possible problems and hurdles and articulating its premises, and […]

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Saving Our Boys

I grew up with a brother who struggled with mental illness. My parents must have looked at the boy and thought something was wrong. He wet his pants in his third-grade classroom or hesitated to mix in with other shirtless boys who didn’t mind getting their shoes muddied from outdoor activities. As a talented and sensitive artist, my brother did […]

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Middle School Gifted Specialists: The Lone Wolves

For all middle school educators who are itinerant, half-time, or split among multiple schools, welcome aboard!  As a solo practitioner in the field of Gifted Education in two middle schools, my journey has been full of both wonder and loneliness: First, gifted population I serve is a bundle of hormonal joyride whose parents grabble with the changes their children experience each […]

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Parents, Our Strongest Allies

Building a strong relationship with middle school parents isn’t on the priority list for many educators. Considering North Carolina’s teacher pay is ranked #35 in the nation,  who would want to carve out extra hours calling parents to introduce themselves and give positive feedback for every child? For that matter,  most conferences for the gifted children have been done around angry parents, Individual Education Plan(IEP), behavioral issues, or failing grades. What we end up doing is we keep empathy out and use hard data to justify that we are doing the best we can to do our job as educators. And I’m tired of this fight of advocating for the children and parents of the gifted. We as teachers forget that parents are not our foes. Parents don’t get to hear much about how gifted services are delivered in classrooms because most of my time is spent on managing neglect and lack of differentiation in classrooms. They want to know more but by the time they want to know more, it’s around the mid-year. The phones start ringing at both ends of school and home when something goes wrong. As these children enter into the season of autonomy and communities of their own, parents and teachers are the ones to closely communicate with each other to hold our children accountable. It’s a must for adults to communicate to each other.  So here’s my suggestion. First, I start early. Pick out […]

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