Approaches to Gifted & Talented Education

Addressing the needs of gifted learners has the potential to bring a unique set of challenges to the already complex dynamic that is classroom teaching. Whether it is in self-contained, content-area classrooms of high school or the mixed-ability classrooms of elementary, meeting gifted learners’ educational needs involves a commitment to designing student-centered learning opportunities so gifted students aren’t just surviving but thriving. To ensure an inclusive approach to learning design that fully includes gifted and talented learners, educators must be prepared to plan conscientiously for the kind of learning that engages and stimulates gifted minds alongside all others in our classroom. 

Cultivate Curiosity and Inventiveness within a Rigorous Curriculum

Within course level curriculum, it is important to help gifted and talented students feel empowered by their sense of curiosity and their ability to bring ideas to the forefront of learning in the classroom. Allowing gifted students to explore their own ideas means we are preparing the kinds of minds that have the potential to transform the future. Providing learning that pushes students’ thinking, as well as their abilities, will help gifted students grow into committed and solution-oriented members of society.

Nourish Healthy Identities with Rich, Social / Emotional Content

Within the content-area curriculum, it is important to allow gifted students time to dive into learning about how their own minds work in response to specific stimuli and personal experiences. Many gifted and talented students struggle with growth mindedness, perfectionism, as well as understanding the impact of their own exceptionalities. Engaging gifted and talented students in social-emotional learning and development will help them unpack their feelings about themselves and others, and can help to remove social and personal barriers to learning.

Provide Opportunities for Self-Directed, Problem-Based Learning

Giving gifted students the chance to lead themselves in learning through problem-solving will help them in developing the mental fortitude to see tasks through to completion while simultaneously helping them to improve their self-confidence. Gifted students must be granted access to a multitude of tasks that allow them to tap into their own learning profiles as well as their proficiencies. Grooming students to become independent and solution-oriented will not only help them to excel academically but will also set them up for success when they leave school for college or the workforce.

Foster Empathic Attitudes through Inclusive, Antiracist Teaching and Learning

Often gifted students struggle to empathize with or understand and accept the perspectives of others. Because of this, it is essential to the development of healthy and respectful attitudes towards diversity to make sure that we consistently weave threads of anti-bias, antiracist learning into our content. By doing so, we can help students gain an awareness of their role in undoing the kinds of thinking and actions that perpetuate intolerant and inherently racist systems and structures. Allowing students opportunities to bring in their own lived experiences to share with others will result in inclusive learning environments built on strong relationships and empathetic attitudes.

Resources for the Development of Gifted and Talented Students

The library below provides educators with access to research-based strategies and supports that will aid in the growth of gifted and talented students. New links and categories will continue to be added regularly, so check back often!

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Essential Reading for Developing Talent