This is a professional development blog. We'll be discussing books we read as a group. Our discussions will be focused on gifted children.
We should be concerned because this is something we can work to change.By mentoring, being charitable, and by ensuring that immature gifted kids have play time with agemates, we can help these GTs develop their talents and..throw the benefits back to society.
Educators whould be concerned about this because of two significant points. First, these reasons are the majority of the time beyond the educator's control - be it family issues, poverty, etc. Secondly, unfortunately, I believe that as a result of the first, these reasons are some of the ones that can easily go unnoticed by the teacher. This shows how important it is to gain some minimum information about your students - what is the home life? are they on free/reduced lunch? - which would then give the educator some insight into why the student may be losing motivation.
There are several good points brought out that make one think. Mostly I like the information that GT students need a challenging environment where they have choices of what they learn and to learn at greater depths and be able to move at a faster pace (pp 101-102). The authors also point out that students will feel more respected, have greater self-esteem, motivation and creativity.
Q to kandel's fan: have you found a way to get through admin.., TAKS, and time-constraint blockades in order to ensure that the students do have more (some) choice and can move at their faster paces?
A teacher should be concerned when he or she sees a gifted student not doing well in school and not reaching their potential due to a lack of support at home. The confusion from their homelife keeps them from concentrating at school. He states on page 88," Rich or poor, all children find it easier to give attention when they live in a stable environment". The author sited examples of gifted people from poverty on page 87 such as Pulitzer Prize winning author Frank McCourt. It reminds me of the a message on TV "that a mind is a terrible thing to waste".
I teach at a school where many students are poor, from broken homes and from single parent homes. The parents are not supportive sometimes because they do not value education but often because they are working long hours. Teachers can be the one adult who encourages the child and shows them their potential. Teachers can also encourage the parents and show them how they can be supportive.
Answer to hassidg - No. Even if TAKS weren't in the picture there would still be time constraints in setting topics and guidelines for students, as well as the scaffolded instruction they would need and monitoring whether or not they are actually learning anything. However, is it too idealistic to think students can take greater ownership of their learning by creating a proposal for learning within teacher guidelines? I don't have any experience with high school GT students so I may be committing here one of those errors of overlooking the social and emotional aspects of the children. So many ideas look good on paper, but then realistically they don't play out well because of social and emotional aspects, time constraints and TAKS don't make it possible. Right now I see plans for teaching that I'm required to do (not in GT area), but classroom time and space just don't make it possible. It's a struggle.
cstrickland, I also work at a school where the children have much to overcome. Parents play a vital role in helping a child realize the value of a good education. You're so right to say that teachers can serve as an encourager to both parents and their children. And thinking about all the different parents with all their different problems just adds light to the sensitivity, insight and attentiveness that we need to have while interacting with them.
We should be concerned….unfortunately, we cannot change a child’s living conditions and we cannot change or improve family situations. What we can do is provide “a consistent, caring adult with whom the child is safe. This person, who may be a parent, teacher, social worker, grandparent or family member, coach, boys’ or girls’ club leader, neighbor, or specially chosen mentor, gives the child a sense of belonging and importance, which in turn enhances his self-worth and allows him to develop a positive outlook and a belief in his ability to succeed” (87). We can provide children with friendships that foster their need for “sharing of confidences, trust, and acceptance” (92).
I think teachers need to be aware of the social issues because they are often the one adult who makes the difference. A lot of us spend more time with some of our students than their parents do. With parents working multiple jobs and not always seeing their children for a significant amount of time every day, those of us who do see the children are often in the place to fill that void. We need to be sensitive to these issues and recognize when the social issues might be causing academic issues in our classrooms.
After reading this chapter...social reasons may be the most important for us to look at...GT students who are in families that don't understand or know how to react to a GT child, may cause him to do poorly and not excell. A teacher who is aware of situations in the home or at school can help remedy porblems. Things that may seem trival may be the one big rock in the way of success for a GT student.
Responding back to several comments above...teachers can make a HUGE difference in the social reasons for lack of motivation. As CStrickland mentioned, teachers can help parents learn how to assist their GT students and the teacher can be the one individual who can make a difference in the child's life. Oh..to have have fewer students, more hours and endless resources to help these kids succeed!
I think that the most significant section in the “Social reasons for loss of Motivation” is stated on page 87 where it talks about adults helping the students develop self-efficacy and teaching them how to direct and choose their own path in life. We can’t teach them everything, but we can teach them how to go learn everything that they are interested in.
In response to rcelibrarian I don't think that most people relize the size of the "rock" most of the gifted students carry around. We assume that since they are smart they shouldn't have the problems that the "normal" students have. Their burden is larger because people expect more from them. Sometime their teachers are the only ones that can objectively help them in school.
I agree with jkohler. In our school it is very likely that the teachers spend more quality time with the gifted students than any other adult. Sometime parents are working so hard just to get by they don't have time for the kids or they don't understand the material and their students need to go into so much depth over what they may perceive a trivial academic issues.
I agree with oliverl about the most important part of this section. On page 87 it states "the most crucial factor in the formation of resilience is the presence of at least one strong, concerned, and understanding adult in the child's life" and that this person "enhances his self-worth and allows him to develop a positive outlook and a belief in his ability to succeed". Many times it is a teacher or a person at school, for many reasons discussed above. If we can just give students the self-confidence to be everything they are able to be, we have done what we need to do. We can help them cope with their "rock", as stated in previous comments. and we can help them succeed to the best of their ability.
In response to hassidg - There are so many things we can do to help kids with things that have nothing to do with school. I was reminded when reading this section, of a teacher who was trying to help a student do his laundry at his apartment. She had him draw a picture of the dials, then when he brought that to her, she could tell him how to work the machine. Then he came to school with clean clothes and no one made fun of him anymore. It seems like such a small thing and it took very little time, but it made all the difference in the world to that child. Those are the kinds of things we can do to help our kids, gifted or not.
I found the section on "Friendships" to be the most significant. "This isolation is particulary poignant in the early grades, when gifted children can be as much as three years ahead of thie peers and their concepts of friendship." (pg. 92). This is really interesting to me because I teach 3rd grade and this knowledge makes me more aware to some of the needs of my students. I never really thought about how lonesome it could be to not find anyone you can relate to.
I believe that the most significant factor is the presence of at least one strong, concerned and understanding adult in the child's life. With the way parents are torn into so many different directions, I feel as a teacher of all different students- I can be the most influencial person in some of my student's lives. As commented on earlier by j Kohler, teachers definitely spend more time with their students than most parents get the chance to do. I believe in giving my student's choices in ways they can show what they know, and model how a positive self-image is key to success. 5th grade students are constantly changing their own opinions of things, as well as their opinions of themselves. I like to show my kids to not sweat the things that they can't change, and to pick their battles wisely. We do a lot of talking and sharing in my class.
As I stated before, this section of the book was most eye-opening for me. I think that educators need to be aware of this because so many factors can affect students that our well beyond our control. As educators will really need to take the time to find out what the background story is, and to create a safe and loving environment for all of our students.Comment: We all seem to agree that educators have a very critical role in student's lives. We need to be the constant that helps guide them through the craziness of the school year and their lives!
In response to Sharon G. and Wonderweiss: We do spend more time with our kids (at least during the waking hours) that our parents and so we need to be understand how crucial our role in their lives' is.
In response to oliverlI absolutely agree that we sometimes overlook issues and burdens that GT students carry around. We expect so much more from them emotionally and academically that sometimes we forget they are just as vulnerable, perhaps more so, then the average student. We need to be their “rock” on which to lean on and to provide guidance when necessary.
In response to Sharon GWe definitely spend the most time with our students....I think it is wonderful that you give students’ choices in ways they can show what they know, and model how a positive self-image is key to success. The only experience I have is as a first grade teacher, so I can imagine that 5th grade is a year full of turmoil, hormones and changing opinions. I really like the idea that you are empowering your students with the knowledge of not sweating the small things and to pick their battles wisely.
I don’t think I read this word anywhere in this chapter, but, overall, I got this feeling that there is a tremendous risk of the GT child with problems at home to lose motivation because they feel “alone” or “lonely”. If there is not a supportive and trusted adult/person in their life, the GT student may feel like they are the only person who cares about their personal success/failure. Moreover, it seems that they may feel they are the only person who is aware of or appreciates their intelligence/giftedness. We, as educators, need to be concerned about the “Social Reasons for Loss of Motivation” because we have the power to be the informed/aware/trusted adult for the GT child who has no one else that understands them and/or their giftedness. We have the ability to provide “affirmation” (p. 86), support, and encouragement in a structured environment if their home environment and/or peer group fails to do so.
We spend more awake time with the student’s then most of their parents during the week. We see the interaction in all situations such as social peer interaction and adult interactions. We are also aware of other situations with other students. We know more about a group of 100 students then their own parents do. We need to use this to our advantage and look out for the signs of losing motivation. The loss of social motivation can be detrimental to a child’s future. If a child doesn’t feel wanted or accepted they may push them self away from the environment. I feel the most significant part about this chapter is that a caring, concerned adult can foster resilience and hope in a gifted student… that is us as the adult!
In respone to Mary P. A teacher should be concerned when he or she sees a gifted studnet not doing well in school and not reaching their potential due to a lack of supoort at home. We need to step in and act as their rock, challenge them to meet their need, and spend the time on strengthening their brains!
It is important for us to be concerned with "Social Reasons for Loss of Motivation" because as teachers we are in the unique position to see the child interact with other children and adults and to have information regarding the student's home life that would not be available to the casual observer. On pg. 87, "Experts agree that the most crucial factor in the formation of resilience is the presence of at least one strong, concerned and understanding adult in the child's life." Ideally that person should be the parent, but if a child comes from poverty or a "complicated family", then a teacher would be the adult that the child probably spends the most time with and would be most able to make nonjudgemental, fair observations regarding the child's academic, social and emotional needs. The teacher then, could help guide the child along the path of acquiring appropriate knowledge, education, activities and possibly friends.
Our students are being prepared for a global economy. As a start, it is necessary to work with those around us in age appropriate ways. The social stressors of the child’s life (i.e. poverty, complicated families, and emotionally absent parents) pull at the social well being and consequently, the emotions. Most significant to me was the statement that one, caring and concerned adult can foster resilience and hope in a child. (p 95)
I find melscales’ illustration of the ‘help with laundry’ to be very touching. This teacher gave the student the necessary information which equipped him to take care of the problem. Sometimes in the midst of many demands pulling at us, it is possible to view our students as existing only in the vacuum of our world with them. We must make the leap toward really knowing them, which may lead to further action on our part or seeking assistance from elsewhere.
I find it most interesting that many of the responses go back to page 95 and the discussion of the one adult that can make a significant difference in a child. Just think if every teacher thought that way...what a difference it would make not only to the GT child, but to all children. I think that many teachers are the one adult that can make a difference.
This is the stuff that the public doesn't get when it blames teachers for the state of today's educational system. It made me think of all the 40 Assets stuff we've been getting at faculty meetings. I think that kids today are not nearly as resilient or autonomous as they used to be. So many kids look to someone else to tell them what to do when they're bored or if they don't know how to do something. Kids don't know how to problem-solve, many times, because they don't have to. Making friends--and keeping friends--can make or break a child. I'm working in a classroom with a brilliant student, but nobody wants to be around him, including his homeroom teacher. During my twice-weekly visits, I try to work with him (and his class) on social skills. Nobody should have to go through the school year so disliked.
Most significant about this chapter for me is the section on poverty. I teach at a school where the majority of the students live in poverty. I have many students that I believe could be much more successful academically, but being smart isn't "cool". I think that this mindset is holding back many of them. They do not see the benefits of education. Often they do not have any adult at home or elsewhere that is able to assist them. My students talk about how their mom doesn't live with them or their dad is in another country. I think that it is important to provide a positive role model and show real life examples of successful people that lived in poverty.
I think it's important to see that social reasons for a student's struggle with motivation are just as real as the physical and emotional ones. In some ways, social reasons are even more challenging because a child doesn't have control over things like their family situation or financial situation. When a student is overwhelmed by family problems or trouble making or keeping friends, it can cause severe distractions. As a result, motivation will drop.
I agree with svankampen. The academic challenges students face when they live in poverty don't just come from a lack of finances and opportunities. I see so many students with so much potential who hold back because they don't see the value in an education. We definitely need more and better ways to motivate gifted kids and ALL KIDS to reach their potential.
I agree with angele bressler: It is so difficult to see our students struggle with social issues and feel like there is not much we can do to help. It is encouraging to read that the presence of a "strong, concerned, and understanding adult" can "help the child develop self-efficacy." Once a child learns how to "choose his own path," he will be able to overcome those social obstacles.
Following what cstrickland said about parent support, I also agree and think that some parents do not know how to support their children in school because they themselves have never experienced that. Therefore, it is important to be a positive adult role model for the students, but it is also important to assist parents and make opportunities available to them to receive communication and feedback about their students' progress.
Educators should be concerned about social reasons for loss of motivations for several reasons because:These social reasons all affect a child’s behavior, attitudes, and work habits while at school. We cannot separate the social reasons from any aspect of a student’s life, particularly life at school. Whether it’s the effects of poverty, complicated family situations or friendship/relationship issues, all of these issues affect a child’s life and motivation in all aspects of their life. In order for teachers to most effectively understand and respond to the students needs, behavior, attitudes and perspective, they must have an awareness of the social factors affecting the student’s life at home and at school.
Responding to oliverl, I like the analogy you used of the students carrying around a "rock." Sometimes we as adults think that their lives must be so easy because school material isn't always as challenging as it should be. We should remember that sometimes their giftedness is a burden.
We should be concerned because the children have been placed in our lives and classroom, and therefore it is our duty to care. Page 94 says: highly or profoundly gifted children...may have more complex social and emotional issues and may require special attention and gentle handling.Since we are educated educators, we must handle them attentively and gently.
Responding to RCELibrarian: It's a wonderful thought about what might happen if every educator cared enough to be that one person who motivated every child. Fortunately, children are with multiple educators every day, so there is more opportunity to be cared about, every day.
In response to S Acevedo (and many others), I agree that "we have the ability to provide “affirmation” (p. 86), support, and encouragement in a structured environment if their home environment and/or peer group fails to do so." with a big emphasis on the IF. As this discussion grew, it seems as though we moved from some children having a lack of support at home to all of our students having a lack of support at home. There are many GT kids who spend more time with their parents than they do with me - even at our Title I school. We need to remember that each situation needs to be looked at individually - don't just assume that because a student comes from a home without much money that the parents don't or can't provide support.
I agree with many of the comments that our influence as the teacher, both positively and negatively, impacts our students greatly. Teachers really have to know their kids--not just the academic stuff like learning styles, but what makes them tick. I was in a STAT a couple of years ago as the intervention person, and I was horrified to realize that I knew the student better than the teacher did! Totally unacceptable!
Re: to Hassig’s question to Kandel and Kandel’s commentJust to share an idea….I am not sure how possible this is for you and your teaching environment, but something I am doing to address Hassig’s valid issues is using a Social Network site (blog). This is the first year I have used this and it is possible because of the PTL grant. Basically, my students have 1 to 1 netbooks books and they are able to access various class activities/assignments from the class Ning ®. I have been able to upload Flip Charts, pictures, video, send them messages regarding assignments, etc. The beauty of this is it eliminates the wait time, requires all students participate in class discussions (blog), and allows each student to work at his/her own pace (acceleration/differentiation). I know netbooks are not a possibility at the present moment for everyone, but you could do something like this periodically if you have computer lab access or COWs available for classroom use.
Whenever a student is having a social issues that is affecting their classwork, it is a time for an educator to get more involved about the situation. This current year since I am on a Team and I have GT/Pre-ap mixed classes, I must do more of the "team" activities and less GT differentiation. Having a smaller GT class provided me a chance to help students over come their social reasons for loss of motivation ( more time for discussion on why there were issues with presentations, more time to plan how to do the assignment, and a friendlier classroom situation for them to do their lessons). When a student tells you that one of their major goals in life is to be able to interact with other classmates and to be a part of the group, you know that there is a major need out there for this topic to be discussed. Educators would like for students to all appear at the door ready to learn and to do all the work exactly as they planned, but life is just not that smooth. Add a few more little blips going on in a brain, a few misfirings, and then some social issues and you will need some trained educator intervention to help guide the student to a successful end of the assignment
I found the thoughts expressed by the author to be very true especially when it comes to differentiating the curriculum so that our gifted population is challenged to advanced academically. I really feel it is important to realize as an educator that our gifted children also have needs that need to be addressed especially if we don not want them to stay stuck on an academic plateau. Getting the right answers are helpful but more than right answers it is important for children to know how to think about the process to reach their final answer and when our gifted babies are not allowed to expand their thinking we are not providing the best environment for learning they really need.
responding to estrickland I definately agree that parents are vital in the learning equation so that children are successfull. I have come to feel that our job nowdays is not just to educate our children but also to educate our parents. Sometimes education may not be a priority due to various factors. One thing I have observed is that the parents of nonhispanic children ask questions regarding grades and progress while most hispanic parents focus on conduct and then grades. Of course, there are some exceptions, but its a few only. I say that becuase my parents who are from Nicaragua just like me made grades a priority because they had the opportunity to have a higher education, but sometimes some parents did not and they had to focus on working at an early age.
respoding to melanie I am in complete agreement that the we are responsible to provide the best environment not just to challenge our children but also to allow them to take risks without forgetting that our gifted children may bring into the classroom more complex needs. Our children did not choose to come into our classroom at the beginning of the year so it is up to us to find many different ways to help our gifted population that may be at an academic plateau.
I agree with the author about differentiate instruction We must help our GT kids to advanced academically and also intellectually. We really needs good thinkers. Kids can really solve problems and do outstanding things if we just guide, motivate and encouraged them to think out of the box
Why is this chapter so important? Three reasons pop to mind rather quickly. First, is within the first paragraph of the chapter. “Research indicates that between one-half and two-thirds of children growing up under trying conditions overcome the odds against them.” This instills hope for all…especially educators to not give up on any students…no matter what their background. “While poverty and hardship may have a significant impact on any child, a consistent, caring adult with whom the child is safe can counterbalance many negatives.” (Page 87) Another valuable tidbit in this chapter has to do with the concept of time. “The most precious gift…give such a [gifted] child is to listen, and listening takes time and attention.” (Page 91) The last important concept I gleamed from this chapter is to understand the social needs of gifted students. “Highly or profoundly gifted children …may have more complex social and emotional issues and may require special attention and gentle handling.” (Page 94)