I’m constantly reminded that just because a student is gifted, doesn’t mean they have mastered every skill. In fact, it’s just as possible to have a first grader reading at a sixth-grade level as it is to have a sixth grader who lacks third-grade skills.
But realize that these students are often really good at hiding their weaknesses. Sometimes, it’s our job to simply discover the problem.
This is why it’s so important to constantly assess. Little quizzes, informal questioning, halfway-through-the-unit reviews, and so on. I learn more from the little assessments I whip up than all the district data that has accumulated over the years.
Halfway through the year, I finally understand that some of my students struggle with 6th-grade grammar concepts because they have never learned to tell verbs from nouns. Without this foundation, how can they possibly differentiate compound and complex sentences?
Being a teacher of gifted students means feeding their appetite for big, abstract concepts while also fine-tuning the fundamental skills that may be lacking.
Be careful, however, with the way you handle your discovery.
Don’t tell the student they “should already know it.”
They already know they “should already know it.”
But they don’t know it.
So be the one that teaches them.
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