Monday, March 03, 2008

Meeting the Needs of ALL Students

Members of our special education team and our gifted and talented team presented at our school's faculty meeting today. The topic was twice exceptional students (kids who are gifted but also have a learning disability, social challenge, or some other such exceptionality). The main focus of the presentation was a video, Ennis' Gift, from the Ennis William Cosby Foundation. The video is beautifully done and tells the story of numerous people who were not successful in school because their teachers did not recognize their gifts. Parts will make you cry. We showed snippets of it and gave everyone chances to talk about it. We had thoughtful questions linked to the video to guide discussions. We had collected children's books with twice exceptional main characters and had them on display. We shared some Calvin and Hobbes cartoons to get things started. It was a brilliantly planned presentation (I had little to do with the planning).

The message we really wanted to convey was: students should not be denied services because of social, emotional, or behavioral issues. The great majority of our staff already know this. However, we still hear teachers saying things like, "That child doesn't deserve to be in the GT class." The belief that a seven year old should be excluded from a classroom that will best meet his/her learning needs because of laziness, defiance, or social awkwardness is sad.

I think the presentation inspired members of our faculty who already understood the concept of twice exceptional students. Hopefully they will be more willing and able to advocate for those students in the future. Those staff members who don't yet buy into the idea were not likely swayed by the meeting. I can only hope that it sowed seeds of possibilities for the future.


Karen Janowski said...

Sounds as though you had a stimulating conversation. You might be interested to discuss "The Myth of Laziness" by Mel Levine with some of the more "reluctant" educators.

splatypus said...

It was a wonderful presentation that gave me lots of food for thought. My kiddos generally don't get any labels (being kinders) so it's mostly up to me to try to figure their little brains out. I can easily see how a child can be twice exceptional - let's just hope we get to them early!!

AMY S. said...

i resist labels rather violently but understand the need for 'em. this was a really well-timed post for me, as i am working to help one of my most exceptional kiddos go into the middle school g/t program. in school districts there are many systemic things that feel daunting and impossible to change, but the way that they do the placement for the middle school g/t programs in our district is so ridiculous (very dependent on involved and savvy parents and other factors that some kids aren't lucky enough to have,) well, it seems like it should be an easy and obvious thing to change and so i'm thinking of writing a letter to the board.

Megan Germano said...

Sorry to be off topic here, but I wanted to let you know, YOU'VE BEEN TAGGED! ;)