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.