Search form

A Call Out to Teacher Educators: Including Gifted Education Through Practical Strategies

Classrooms are radically different these days. Teachers must teach an extremely diverse population of students, from various backgrounds with a wide range of academic abilities. 

Within this range, gifted and advanced students often take a back seat. I’m convinced that this is a systemic problem, one that starts when student teachers receive training.

Teacher education programs across the country provide little, if any, training in how to work with gifted students. According to the National Association of Gifted Children, pre-service teachers receive less than two hours of instruction in gifted education; the result is most teachers have little to no knowledge of how to effectively work with this population.

The solution, in my opinion, does not lie in spending lots of money or making major changes to teacher programs. Rather, it requires a change in mindset, a paradigm shift that involves college professors, program directors, teacher educators, such as field supervisors, and school partners to adopt an inclusion approach that includes gifted students in their planning. 

Those helping to prepare new teachers have the power to implement information and strategies that would better prepare teachers to work with advanced/gifted students and meet their academic and social-emotional needs. These students deserve an equitable education—this means meeting them where they are academically. Challenging them each day, providing them opportunities to grow, to expand, to develop their gifts.

If you connected to teacher education in any way (whether a mentor teacher, a field supervisor, university faculty) I urge you to consider the following practical recommendations:

  • Revise syllabi/expand existing curriculum to include gifted education topics (e.g. historical context, rationale for teaching, legislation, gifted student characteristics/needs, instructional strategies and accommodations)
  • Include readings and discussions in class and seminar that address gifted education and how to effectively work with and identify gifted students.
  • Design assignments and projects that encourage pre-service teachers to explore and familiarize themselves with gifted students. For example, conduct case studies with gifted students and/or create lesson plans focused on differentiation for advanced/gifted learners.
  • Plan field-based experiences that expose pre-service teachers to gifted students. For example, working with small-groups in classrooms to provide enrichment; shadowing teachers of the gifted; and capturing observational data and conducting inquiries around gifted students.
  • Invite teachers of the gifted and other experts (e.g. gifted education professors, gifted education district coordinators) to serve as guest speakers during classes and internship seminars.
  • Offer gifted education workshops and trainings for supervisors and course instructors.

I’m not advocating that teacher programs must adopt all off the above recommendations but rather begin to use that fit the program’s current needs.

Start with one or two ideas and see what happens. Expand from there.

Change begins with a shift in mindset. Are you ready to make that shift?


Written by Steve Haberlin, Education World Blog Contributor