As a 6th grade teacher, I would see students give up just as things became difficult. Because of their natural intelligence, they could succeed without putting in the work that their peers were learning to do. So I introduced a motto.
All AboutSocial Emotional
As a kid, I read Calvin and Hobbes religiously, checking out collections from the library and cutting out favorites from the newspaper. Now, I read these same comics and see Calvin in a different light: an example of all of the unexpected traits of gifted students.
As I read about the origins of the Disney studios, I’m struck by the endless financial trouble Walt Disney found himself in. Even after his classic films hit theaters, the studio was constantly in debt and faced a dismal future.
Our gifted kids receive lots of well-intentioned “you’re so smart” praise. But, this leads directly to a fear of straying beyond their safety zone. In college or the workplace, where they face challenges for the first time, the impostor syndrome rears its terrifying head.
What better way to learn about gifted students’ needs than by talking to gifted adults? Here’s a tour of some of the resources I found online.
They believe that only they are aware of their limitations, near misses, and potential for error. They attribute their success to luck, not ability. In an attempt to maintain an illusion of perfection, they avoid situations in which they might not be the best. This is called Impostor’s Syndrome.
Not only are they dealing with the usual trials of growing up, they are often doing it with an increased awareness of their faults, a frustration with being unable to do everything well, and a world that often doesn’t know what to do with them. Worse, they often lack the emotional tools to accompany their increased awareness.
We know gifted students are far more complex than their test scores might suggest. And while we might expect certain quirks, others blindside us: a strange reaction to sound, a sudden outburst of tears, or a need to stand up at inopportune times. Dabrowski’s five overexcitabilities provide some insight into these unexpected moments.
Previously, we discussed using morality, multiple intelligences, and scholarly habits to analyze characters. Not only does this add deep layers to questioning, but (more importantly) it provides opportunities to discuss gifted students’ unique emotional needs. Personality types are another tool that serve these two needs.
In class, a child suddenly explodes at another for making a clicking pencil sound, a student shuts down for the day after making an error while presenting, a distant natural disaster effects children’s moods. As a teacher, this layer of complex sensitivity builds on your already difficult job of tracking academic progress. To be effective, you must also navigate this emotional minefield.