According to the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), gifted people are defined as “those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude or competence in one or more domains.” Ultimately, educators aim to individualize education for all students so that no one falls significantly behind or, in the case of gifted students, becomes bored. Many public schools offer gifted and talented programs for students with exceptionally high aptitude in specific subject areas.
Identifying Gifted and Talented Students
The National Society for the Gifted and Talented offers recommendations for how to recognize a gifted or talented individual. It is not just a matter of having a specific talent or being a straight-A student. Students must demonstrate that they have potential to achieve at significantly higher levels than their peers. A student may not even realize that he or she has this specific potential. Gifted and talented students may exhibit some of the following traits:
- Students may be perfectionists;
- Students may be exceptionally sensitive and have high expectations of themselves and others;
- Students may already know much of the curriculum before it is presented;
- Students may have excellent problem solving abilities;
- Students think abstractly and may struggle with more concrete concepts.
- Students may exhibit talent and intelligence in one or several areas including creativity, specific subject areas, leadership, psychomotor skills and the arts.
Gifted and Talented Education
Gifted and talented education can occur in a number of forms. The NAGC describes some of the more common forms of gifted education:
- Acceleration for individual students;
- Grouping gifted students together;
- “Curriculum compacting” to eliminate material that students already know;
- Advanced placement of gifted students;
- Implementing “pull-out programs” and special classes.
Becoming a Gifted and Talented Instructor
Gifted and talented teachers have the opportunity and privilege of working with the best and brightest students. The first step to becoming a gifted and talented teacher is to be certified as an elementary or secondary education teacher. Requirements vary by state, so check with your state Department of Education for the specific certification requirements. Some universities offer specific Gifted and Talented Certificates. USC Rossier Online, for example, offers a Gifted Education Certificate that you can obtain in addition to your master's degree. Having this type of certificate will both look excellent on a resume and prepare teachers for the challenges and rewards of working with exceptional students.
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