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Undertrained Teachers for the Gifted Worry Texas Advocates


My blog post "How to Grow a Special Education Teacher" has gotten quite a few comments—I've enjoyed reading the conversation there. Now, here's a concern about a different area of specialized teaching, as published in a recent Dallas Morning News article:

Enrollments are dwindling in graduate education programs that focus on training teachers to work with gifted students. The state doesn't require the programs, few school districts pay teachers to take them, and teachers who get the training generally are not paid higher salaries.

That leaves gifted students – those with higher-than-normal intelligence who are particularly motivated – in classes with teachers who may have little training in their special needs.

It strikes me that the same skills in differentiating instruction that are so important for a special education teacher would be just as important to have as a teacher of gifted students. Training in tiered intervention models would seem to work just as well for students who are gifted: there's the basic instruction that every student gets, and then those who show the ability to grasp lessons quickly could move up the tiers, as necessary.

And, I've heard for years about the concern that so-called "twice-exceptional" children, who are gifted and have special education needs, are underserved.

This article only looks at one state, but it makes me wonder if the issues in teacher training for the gifted are as acute as training for teachers in other special education fields.


I agree that both Gifted and Talented students as well as those that are twice-exceptional are an underserved group of students. They have unique needs for keeping them challenged in the classroom and maintaining their love of learning. Those that may also have a learning disability will need to be allowed to excell in the areas where they are gifted and provided services to inprove the areas where they are challenged. This can be very difficult for a teacher in a typical classroom or one that may be dealing with children that have more challenging learning, physical or communication needs. Tutoring is an excellent option for the G&T child to provided additional educational opportunities.

As someone who has taught high school in general education classrooms, I can say that it is very challenging to have a gifted student who wants and needs to move at a much quicker pace than the other students in the class. These students do deserve to be in a classroom where both the teacher and fellow students will be able to move at a similar pace and keep this student interested and motivated. Gifted students should always be encouraged to take classes and pursue interests outside of the classroom that will keep them thirsting for more knowledge.

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