This is a professional development blog. We'll be discussing books we read as a group. Our discussions will be focused on gifted children.
The discussion of perfectionismand all the emotional overtones affected memost deeply because we tend to think aobut the intellectual part of being GT more than the human part, and it of course is unfair and even inhumane.GTs can be hypersensitive and deserve careful management. Their value is not just their intellect!
Most significantly, I found that there were a wide variety for reasons for loss of motivation. However, the bottom line seems to be meeting the needs of the student. Regardless whether physical, emotional, school related or personal, when the learning process is student focused, the student will be able to work with or past the reasons for loss of motivation and begin to succeed.
This section really imparts the human aspects as to how GT students' lives are impacted by many variables that can stifle motivation. I currently have a student I referred for the GT program, but the paperwork never came back. Mother has no job and the student misses school, doesn't return paperwork, acts out in class and has a history of taking things not belonging to her and not being entirely honest. Another person is not longer living after being here for a few years as a very unhappy young woman who was highly sensitive and found no real satisfaction in school or in life. This section reminds us of the importance of mentors who can help and the extra kindness necessary to help bring others along in life.
Hassidg on 10/15 commented that GTs can be hypersensitive and in need of careful management. This reminds me of the movie "Good Will Hunting" where Robin Williams' character the professor works closely with Will to help him overcome a tragic memory of a relationship with his father and to lure him away from a construction job in order further develop his very well-designed mathematical brain, only for Will to reject that for love. Now that's free will(no pun intended) and prioritizing for one's self!
evessali is so right to note that this section makes readers aware of what all to consider when trying to meet GT students' needs. I've noticed in myself compassion for special education students, but perhaps a different attitude for GT students. That in itself must affect their motivation, making that attitude an unacceptable replacement for compassion for even the most well-rounded and accomplished GT students. Compassion tied in with advanced opportunities to succeed and learn from mistakes.
The mosts significant point in these chapters about motivation is the method of differentiating instruction. The author said on page 100, "What most gifted children need is not medication, but a differentiated curriculum". "This offers instructional choices based on each child's readiness to learn, area of interest,and learning style." This has me really thinking about my direction for instruction.
The section on emotional reasons for loss of motivation struck me in two ways. First, that "gifted children as a group are not particularly at risk for psychological problems" and "are at least as well-adjusted as their average-ability peers" (pg 74). Many people believe that gifted children are going to have problems adjusting throughout their lives. Also, Jared's story on pg 79 and 80 shows that some gifted children want a balance. They know they can achieve more if they focus all their time on their studies but want to lead a balanced life.
The part I found to be most significant for loss of motivation is physical. As stated on page 49, parents and teachers often look for emotional causes when a student’s grades plummet, but the “child may still be highly motivated but plagued by an undiagnosed special need.” I have one student that I have referred for GT testing that I believe has dyslexia and perhaps ADD. If you have a discussion with the child or read a story, the student can remember significant details other students would not grasp. Ask that same student to read or write something and it becomes an issue. The student understands what he/she wrote but I just see a string of letters.
pg. 65 In referring to ADD/ADHD students, the author mentions that some students might need "considerable instruction in note-taking, outlining, organization, time management, writing, and other strategies that will allow them to function in a challenging, higher-level environment." It seems that this is a missing part of our unspoken curriculum. Students are expected to show up in middle school already possessing these skills. There is no study skills course on our campus or anything that addresses these skills. And then we are surprised that students cannot function at higher levels. I think these skills should be taught to all students.
This section was fabulous...made me think a whole lot. I really looked at the learning disability section - my own child has so many reading disorders, that teachers can miss her potential...as she has grown, I see how she thinks so much out of the box and could have achieved so much more, yet we focused on the disabilities. I wonder how many children are not labeled GT because of their learning disabilities....how can we help develop their creativity and provide for their needs...can be difficult and students who are not highly motivated would easily fall to the side.
I agree with evalissi that we need to meet the individual needs of the students...right now I am very split with my GT students, from working with a nearly blind student, to ones that can read far above grade level...to keep motivation on both ends....the needs of the individual must be met....oh how I wish I had more hours in a day!
I agree with rcelibrarian. This section made me really think about students with disablilities and are gifted. As a resource teacher many years ago, I had a very bright GT student who struggled so much with written work that he was being served by the gifted program and the special ed program. He was one of the most frustrated students I have had in 20 years of teaching. I later learned that he committed suicide while in college. I wonder if we'd known then what we know now, could we have made a difference for him?
Aside from the physical reasons for a loss of motivation which could apply to almost any student as well as the gifted students, I thought the section dealing with the emotional reasons for the loss of motivation were the most significant. The “Fear of Failure” and the” Gifted Perfectionist” were two areas I have seen most often in middle school science classes. The idea that these students should just be able to “get” everything isn’t necessarily true. The quote “..gifted children may think and move too fast to take time to read test instruction” is sometimes a very large problem in science when accuracy counts. They get the concept but don’t slow down enough to do the simple work required to complete an assignment. It makes grading a challenge. Does accuracy count or does a broad understanding of a concept count? The fear of failure goes hand in hand with the perfectionist. These students become so bogged down in the minute details they may miss the big picture.
Another section that spoke to me was "The politics of giftedness" starting on p. 105. Working in a Title I school, I see so many kids who are probably gifted being overlooked. Through no fault of the teachers, the kids just aren't identified. I think, as stated on page 105, that the identification process needs to be multi-faceted and include many things other than a test. The "mastery perspective" discussed on pp. 106-108 is very interesting and holds many possibilities for a broader range of gifted kids. I like it! I've always had kids in the library becoming "experts" on a particular subject or piece of technology and this takes it one step further. I think this would really work for us!
In response to melscalesI agree with melscales that many kids in Title I schools are overlooked. Since I work in the same school as melscales, I believe that sometimes these students are overlooked because of emotional and physical reasons. Often the students are dealing with issues such as arriving late and missing breakfast, listening to parents/siblings argue and other emotional and physical issues. At this point, the student is usually struggling to be attentive and alert or the student is acting out in frustration, perhaps masking their true abilities or gifts as a GT student.
In response to J KohlerI agree that students should reach middle school with the strategies and skills necessary to perform in a challenging and higher-level environment. I teach first grade, and one of my main goals is to have my students become independent thinkers and managers of their time and space. I believe it is never too early to motivate students to be time managers, organizers, and note takers.
The section on the fear of failure really stuck out for me. I currently have a student who is ready to quit the GT program. She is really being challenged and this being the first year she gets bussed to Bendwood, she is having a hard time adjusting. She often complains of stomach aches on Thursday nights/Friday mornings. I feel that this section really put this situation into perspective for me.
On page 77 where it talks about if a child views their parents and teachers as overyly demanding, they will rebel openly and not do work. I have several GT students whose feelings of the spiral program have shifted to the thought of it being "just more work", and they only look forward to leaving their home campus for the day, but don't want to do the work that goes with the course. I think there is a need for more balance and understanding between the responsibilities. They have clued in that what they do there can't affect their grades at the home school. When they return to home school, they see what we've done as just "extra" stuff that doesn't count. It's very frustrating at times.
I believe what hit me as most significant was that there were so many reasons for loss of motivation. I was aware of some social reasons and school reasons, but never took into account all of the day to day reasons that students could lose motivation. The "too-busy families" section (pages 90-92)especially hit home for me. I think that many parents want a well-rounded student, and the author points out that many gifted children will naturally gravitate toward their passion, and never be "well-rounded".
In response to Sharon G., I couldn't agree with you more. I like when you said "I think there is a need for more balance and understanding between the responsibilities." It can get frustrating when the kids are "in between" so to speak, in that they want to be in the GT program, but don't want to do the work involved, or don't see the connection between Bendwood and their home school.
I totally agree with comments from rcelibrarian when she is recongnizing the struggles of gifted and talented kids who also have a learning disability. I can only image the conflict that the students must feel to have ideas and not be able to get his ideas down on paper, or be able to share them in ways that his peers might consider to be equal that of his grade level. I think times need to change where we support each other's learning and the styles in which we need to be taught in. More training on brain compatible learning is needed to ensure that all children get to express themselves in a method that is right for them.
I found Ch 4 on emotional reasons for loss of motivation the most significant part of this section. It was interesting (and comforting) to read that the gifted are not particularly at risk for psychological problems and are at least as well adjusted as their average-ability peers (p. 74). The passages on fear, the gifted perfectionist and procrastination rang especially true for me given the experiences that I have had teaching gifted students. Also, that the more success they experience the more anxious they may become about the next challenge (p. 80) is something that I have witnessed both in my students and my children. The passages about extreme sensitivity leading to depression made me think about several students that I have taught. This is definitely a factor in loss of motivation.
I thought the section on perfectionism (p. 76) was the most significant mostly because it seems that there is so much mystery involved in this characteristic. I think this mystery is why being adequately trained in the S/E and N/N is so valuable. It seems that it would be extremely difficult for a person suffering from this trait to explain:They “did not turn in a major paper because after hours of researching in the library they could not decided what parts of a 100 year history of England were the least important and could be omitted. Asking the teacher for help might bring rejection or give the impression that they are not intelligent.” They thought “not turning in it was better than turning it in and having their secretly favorite teacher think that they were not very intelligent; especially, since the teacher seemed impressed” with this student’s proposed topic and its uniqueness relative to others in the class. “Most students that don’t turn in work are slackers and they make up lies about why something is late…the teacher thinks they are lazy or poor planners…but they don’t think they aren’t intelligent.” It seems that the “paralyzed perfectionists” would find more solace in being thought of as a poor planner than not intelligent. So they won’t bother explaining it. This is mystery that the teacher has to solve in order to help our GT students overcome these challenges that are common in gifted people. In the grand scheme of things, the zero on the assignment above is small potatoes….the stress, anguish, and failure caused by unhealthy perfectionism mixed with procrastination and fear is HUGE. Gifted people really need awareness training in school/counseling/small group sessions on the S/E and N/N characteristics to help them overcome these types of obstacles throughout their lives. Without this type of information, many of our societies choose to underachieve or “avoid doing anything too difficult.” (page 78)
The part I found to be most significant for the loss of motivation is the consequences of fear. In my own experiences as a classroom teacher I often hear from parents or see that a child is upset when they don’t get a “100”. The parents also have express that since their child is “gifted” they should make nothing below an “A”. In chapter four it states “The child may not notice this detail (the instructions), if he reads the instructions at all. He works diligently, doing the work correctly, but not rounding. Depending on the teachers’ degree of insistence on students’ following instructions to the letter, the child may obtain only partial or no credit at all for work on the test, even if all of the answers are accurate” (75) As educators it is our job to question his thought process and dig further into the child’s thinking to really assess them and their understanding of the concept to continue their motivation and move them away from the fear of failing.
I agree with Sharon when she states there is “a need for a more balance and understanding of responsibilities”. So often the children look at that as more work or “neater” activities then at their home campus… more like a play date… no accountability towards their grades. In order to obtain this balance their needs to be more communication between the home campus and the pull out campus. Maybe they can work on their project also at their home campus. I also feel that teachers see this pull out a crutch for differentiating their own curriculum. They feel that since the student is getting one day of challenging activities that meet their needs it makes up for the other 4 days of classroom instruction. This is just a thought.
In keeping with the current emphasis on wellness, it makes sense to first rule out any physical reasons for motivational change. However the asynchronomous development so often found in gifted children can manifest itself in ‘social disconnect’ that could appear to indicate social causes. It was interesting to learn that the routine ‘screenings’ do not always find problems with vision and hearing. I especially appreciated the charts on pp 69-70 which gave an overview of characteristics with regard to specific diagnoses. The sentence on p 56 perhaps provides a theme for this section: “Motivation requires a match between task difficulty and the student’s abilities, and when those abilities are dulled by an unsuspected problem, the match is not achieved; motivation will probably dip."
I am in complete agreement with Evessali’s statement concerning student focused learning process. I believe that meeting our students’ needs, whatever they may be, is empowering, and will help to enhance motivation.
I so agree with melscales about missing student identification -and the library can be the perfect place for students who are gt...we definitely have the resources. Quite often I see kids who are "gifted" in areas where we do not really test, yet they are definitely out of the box in their thoughts....working with the students in summer school, I see how many of students in Title 1 schools are missed, they don't have the parents pushing behind them...yet they are just as talented.
I liked how the authors broke down this section into three parts. The perfectionism mindset is familiar to me; I've seen that in several of my students. I hadn't thought about gifted students possibly exerting control by developing eating disorders, though. There is so much pressure, though, from all sides--and then to come to school and have to sit through stuff they already know! They have to have control over a little bit of their lives. We teachers have to be vigilant for signs of these kinds of problems. I thought the chapters laid out the different kinds of issues very well.
I found the physical reasons for loss of motivation very interesting. When I read about gifted children who also suffer from ADD or ADHD, I appreciated the following: "Gifted children are more than a collection of brain cells, and gifted children with learning challenges are more than a cluster of symptoms. Adults must take the time to know the child-his quirky sense of humor, her love of music-and appreciate these unique attributes. If most of the time spent together is related to repairing a deficiency, it's easy for adults to lose sight of the whole child." This paragraph inspires me to look beyond a child's learning disabilities. It's easy to get caught up in labels, but our students deserve more.
I agree with lguidry that I was relieved to find out that G/T students are not at high risk for psychological problems. I would have to agree that the majority of G/T students I have taught seem to be very well-adjusted. I just worry that some may have learned to hide their anxieties. I would hate for depression to develop later. With the proper support from teachers, family, and other caring adults, I think we can help lift the pressure off of our gifted kids.
In response to melscales:"The politics of giftedness" interested me, as well. As a teacher at a Title I school, I feel like it is quite possible that there are gifted students who do not get identified. Although I have attended trainings about identifying gifted students, I think I could definitely learn more about it. I hate to think that students with so much potential get overlooked because of their background or financial situation.
What I found most significant is that the various reasons for "loss of motivation" are universal. All of the reasons listed in the book, physical, emotional, social and school, are all reasons that all students, GT and "average", lose motivation. Every child needs to have the curriculum tailored to their needs, not just GT students.
I agree with svankampen and would like to build on what e.foye said. Every child needs and benefits from differentiated instruction. Therefore, I also think that all teachers should learn or be trained on how to recognize GT children and meet their needs. I have found that, contrary to the saying, "you are only as strong as your weakest link, classes are only as strong as their strongest students. When strong students are allowed to flourish in class, this helps to pull up class performance and they motivate others to work harder and may even be able to do some peer to peer assisting.
What I found most significant in this section regarding the reasons for loss of motivation was the sheer numbers of reasons that were addressed in these 4 chapters. It’s not that I haven’t been introduced or thought about most of these reasons many times during my career. But to see them addressed in a concentrated, concise format provided the opportunity for me to notice the extraordinary number of factors that can affect a child’s motivation, particularly in regards to how those reasons affect a GT student’s life and perspective. I particularly found the section on the effects of fear of success and fear of failure on a GT child very insightful. Several points were mentioned that I hadn’t thought about before. I also found the paragraphs on “fear and procrastination” particularly helpful.
In response to s. acevedo’s comments on perfectionism—I agree that there is so much “mystery” surrounding this issue in the GT student. It seems counterintuitive to some that a student would fail to turn in an assignment because of not knowing what parts of the research to leave out of a paper. Yes, it would sound like an excuse to many teachers unless you truly know how a particular GT student’s need for perfectionism plays out in his/her life. Having an understanding of “a paralyzed perfectionist” allows a teacher to better understand particular GT students’ ways of thinking and perceiving as well as giving the teacher tools to use to work with a student who is a perfectionist.
One thing that struck me from this section is that GT kids are more like other kids than they are different from them. They are not "rare creatures" but have the same problems with motivation as all other children do. The physical, emotional, social and school problems for them are the same as for all children and we as teachers need to be sensitive to all students. Regardless of intellectual ability, they are still just kids.
I was most interested in the emotional reasons. I highlighted the entire summary on page 83, and found many reasons familiar. Perfectionism, existential depression, common intensity both intellectually and emotionally...all good explanations for loss of motivation. They express reasons people I love have lost motivation from time to time.
Responding to Patricet, I agree that I had not made a connection between those with eating disorders, and those with giftedness. There is a correlation, I've just not noticed it. It is a sobering topic, and I wonder if health professionals dealing with patients with eating disorders are aware of the possible giftedness aspect.
In response to JKohler - one of the biggest problems I have in teaching Algebra is that students have made it through many previous math classes without taking notes or studying. I try to show them how to take math notes and how to use them for studying. Unfortunately, it takes many of them a grading period or two to catch on and their grades suffer in the meantime. These note-taking and study skills need to be taught and required from an early age.
Re: CStrickland (October 18)I agree with you on you mention of the “desire for balance”. Page 76 describes “roller coaster like highs and lows because of poor ‘self concept’ caused by environment or internal reactions to the environment”. Page 78 addresses perfectionists escaping the low of failure by “avoiding anything to difficult”. However, it seems that the avoidance behavior can cause in some the same sense of failure the student is trying to avoid. It seems that knowledge of the capability to achieve more and having chosen to underachieve out of fear could/would cause one to feel like a failure…even if they are masters at masking their feelings. This self …sustaining??? could be a double edged sword and very detrimental to the social/emotional well being of our students (especially when they are adults). This double edged sword makes it so “schools, teachers, and other professional must move to build the child’s coping mechanisms, resilience, and emotional health (not sure of the page #)” so that they will be successful in adulthood.
The issue that I am dealing with now with loss of motivation is a student who lost everything with Hurrican Katrina. She can do some of the work in class with very little effort, but the back ground "social issues" of her life are really distracting her. She is dealing with being a teenager, loss of her past life, and then working out living with grandparents in a different town. She has plans to do assignments, but -- it is not happening. Two other students that I am following have step father, ( live in mom's boy friend issues) or a father that is currently in jail. You can see the brain working in their classroom activities, but then you see some battles that are happening in their outside of the classroom lives that is just not letting things progress the way we would like to see it motivationally.
re: S Acevedo and PerfectionismThat is one trait that I have seen come and go over the years. The student who cannot seem to get their research started past a point because they are not sure if it is the right way. Or the student who keeps asking for another map to label since they messed up on the lettering for one of the words. I forget how they can get so involved in a few small details that it detracts from the whole, and as a result due to rubrics they lose lots of points for leaving things out since they were trying to get the full points for one of the requirements.choices!!
Kandel's fan said... evessali is so right to note that this section makes readers aware of what all to consider when trying to meet GT students' needs. I've noticed in myself compassion for special education students, but perhaps a different attitude for GT students...I also find myself with a compassion for the special ed kids that I often do not have for the others. I sometimes get frustrated that they don't achieve what they can or that they aren't getting something. But maybe they see it in a different way than I do.
What I found most significant is that the reasons that cause the loss of motivation for gt children are the same ones that affect all children. Building intrinsic motivation does not come easy for any child because it requires for them to be aware of how they learn. If the basic needs are not any for any child that student cannot learn and perform at their full potential so just like all other children sometimes our gt babies really need that support. I have had gt children in the past that are so pressured to excel that they shut down and would rather be disguised than to show what they really can do. Sometimes their peers don't help too so many factors need to be considered in order to help them make academic progress and build their confidence to use their talents consistently and keep a balance.
responding to hassidg, I agree totally that gt children have a lot more to offer us and our society than just their intellect. Our gt children also have emotional needs that cannot be ignored especially since they intellect is not in synchronous development with their intellectual development. We need to take care of all their personality so that they develop in all areas.
Responding to Patricet, I admit I had not thought about that correlation, so I wonder if like already stated "are health professionals aware of this detail when it comes to their behavior?" Also for us, educators, paying close attention to this is important because we could have students that could develop eating disorders and we don't realize it because we don't think of it to have a correlation to giftedness.
The most significant thing that I found in this section is that some gifted children may have ADD/ADHD " Although a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD may be upsetting to parents it's not the worst thing that can happen" p. 65.I have an students this year that I noticed have a red mark all around her lips. I consult with a college during a conference that I attended and then she informed me that could be a symptom of tourette syndrome. I was so choked. I just to have her in first grade now she is my fourth grade class. I did not recall seen this on her mouth.I am working with her and the counselor. Her grades are sometimes fluctuate. I see sometimes lacks of motivation but I always trying to provided consistent support and let her know that I appreciate her unique qualities.
How closely the ties are between perfectionism and procrastination…Chapter 4 …especially pages 74 – 80 …”The consequences of fear”.