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Steve Haberlin is a Ph.D candidate at the University of South Florida, where he also works as a teaching assistant, supervising and teaching pre-service teachers. Steve holds a master's degree...
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Tales of a Gifted Ed Resource Teacher -Part 3

Author's Note: This is the final installment of a three-part series on my experiences working as a gifted education resource teacher. I included the references used in all three blogs at the end of this blog.

Part 3: Discussion

During this autoethnography, I explored my progression from a frustrated resource teacher, who second-guessed my decision to accept the position, to a functioning co-teacher, who, in at least in some cases, able to influence my colleagues to better challenge their gifted and advanced learners.

The frustration I experienced fueled my advocacy efforts to help the gifted population—but I soon realized that this hard-charging, direct approach would fail without the cooperation of other teachers. I strove to collaborate. I purposely assumed a “softer” approach that called for aligning my instructional goals with those of the classroom teachers.

This process educated me about the importance of relationships, of aligning oneself with others, and communicating. I appreciated the give and take of all relationships and learned to make this dynamic serve my purpose. Paraphrasing the words of Ueshiba (2002), I allowed my antagonists to act as they want and then blend with them. Rather than face problems head one, I mastered the art of redirecting each confrontation and then got firmly behind it. While this inquiry undoubtedly helped my better understand my role as a teacher of gifted and the stages I had endured to become more efficient on the job, I believe my experience could also serve others in similar positions.

Teachers of the gifted face additional obstacles in addition to the common problems experienced by all educators. They battle isolation and perhaps a lack of acceptance by colleagues as they fight to provide accommodations and meet the needs of their gifted students. Knowing they might undergo various stages as they work to master their craft might benefit their professional development.

One way to reflect on how we think rather than purely on just what we think and challenge our creative potential—whether we are a teacher or work in another profession—is through researching other disciplines, such as Aikido (Bradford, 2011). Consequently, embracing a “softer” approach that assists the in better harmonizing with co-teachers might not only make their work lives easier but also enable them to become more powerful advocates for the gifted, leaders who use influence for the betterment of all those around them. Finally, this autoethnography might shed light on the importance of classroom teachers receiving appropriate levels of gifted education training.

While approximately 6 percent –or about 3 million children in U.S. schools - are identified as “gifted,” education majors can come out of college, some possessing graduate degrees, and head into classrooms with virtually no knowledge of the needs of gifted children or how to effectively work with them (Berman & Shultz, 2012). Of course, teachers of gifted are responsible for helping classroom teachers met the needs of these children, it would be reasonable to expect that more training for everyone could only result in improving relationships between teachers.

Just think of the powerful impact of having educators blend their energies toward a common goal –having every child realize their potential, gifted or otherwise.

References

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  2. Barker, R., Dembo, T., & Lewin, K. (1941). Frustration and aggression: An experiment with young children. University of Iowa Studies in Child Welfare,18, 1-314.
  3. Baruch, R., Stutman, S., & Grotber, E. H. (2008). Creative anger: Putting that powerful emotion to good use. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group. 2086
  4. Berman, K. M., Shutlz, R. A., & Weber, C. L. (2012). A lack of awareness and emphasis in preservice teacher training: Preconceived beliefs about the gifted and talented. Gifted Child Today, 35(1), 18-26.
  5. Bradford, M. (2011). Aikido and co-creative practice. Design Principles & Practice: An International Journal, 5(3), 407-418.
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  13. Hansen, J. B., & Feldhusen, J. F. (1994). Comparison of trained and untrained teachers of gifted students. Gifted Child Quarterly, 38(3), 155-121.
  14. Henley, J., Milligan, J., McBride, J., Neal, G., Nichols, J., & Singleton, J. (2010). Outsiders looking in? Ensuring that teachers of the gifted and talented education and teachers of students with disabilities are part of the in-crowd. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 37(3), 203-209.
  15. Holt, N. L. (2003). Representation, legitimation, and autoethnography: An autoethnographic writing story. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 2(1), 1-22.
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  19. Richards, J. (2013). Exploring education students’ reflexivity through the arts and sharing my “bricolage” dilemmas. The Qualitative Report, 18(44), 1-23. Retrieved from http://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol18/iss44/3
  20. Ritchotte, J. A., Matthews, M. S., & Flowers, C. P. (2014). The validity of the achievement orientation model for gifted middle school students: An exploratory study. Gifted Child Quarterly, 58(3), 183-198.
  21. Roberts, J. L., & Siegle, D. (2012). Teachers as advocates: If not you—who? Gifted Child Today, 35(1), 58-61.
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  24. Ueshiba, M. (n.d.). Ueshiba, M. (2002). The art of peace. Boston, MA: Shambhala. Retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/441295-in-aikido-we-never-attack-anattack-is-proof-that

Read the other installments in this series:
>>Part 1
>>Part 2