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Can Gifted Education and A Growth Mindset Belief Coexist?

Mindset Philosophy of Gifted and Talented

Chapter 7 challenges us as teachers to look at a process of labeling a child "gifted". Doesn't telling a child that  he /she is "gifted" manifest a fixed mindset? We never want to say, "You are so smart" but saying, "You are gifted" sends the same message-it says that the child has permanent traits, and that those traits are being judged.   Carol Dweck explains that some young people believe they simply have a gift that makes them intelligent or talented. Horowitz, Subotnik, & Mathews quote, "they may not put in the work necessary to sustain that given talent or may turn some students who are overly cautious and challenges-avoidant lest they make mistakes and no longer merit the label"  (Horowitz, Subotnik, &Mathews, 2009 p.xii).

Students need to be continually observed and evaluated through a lens of potential and possibilities. Educators must learn to recognize sparks and provide appropriate challenges.  Children should have access to challenging instructions whenever they need it, and at every grade level, in every content area.   Wherever students are being educated, utilizing differentiation, and responsive teaching strategies should be in place as a range of background knowledge, opportunities and abilities.

Mindset Philosophy in the Classroom

Reflect on the Gifted and Talented  philosophy  in your own classroom, If you do not have  a philosophy, consider building one that includes the following:

  • A conception of giftedness that emphasizes potential and possibilities
  • Curriculum development that embeds pre-assessment and formative assessment
  •  Practices and strategies that develop and observe talent/potential including critical and creative thinking
  • Identification process for recognition of potential- that are inclusive.
  • Data should be collected on all students
  • Recognition of what students need, and how these needs will be responded to both instructionally and social-emotionally
  • Differentiated  and responsive instruction- that always allows for the possibility of enrichment.
  •  Topic and content acceleration for all students.

Mindset Philosophy in the School

The goal of every school or district is to to develop an instructional philosophy that addresses the needs of our most advanced learners, at the same time allowing access to instruction for all learners.                                                     

A philosophy of gifted education in a school or district that has adopted a growth mindset might sound like this:

  • Curriculum that embeds strategies that will develop potential
  •  Allow for development of talent
  •  Infuse 21st-century learning skills
  • Nurture creative and critical cognitive abilities in all students;
  • Access to enriched and accelerated instructional opportunities
  • Instruction that is responsive to the needs of all students
  • Educators who have adopted a belief system where they embrace a growth mindset

Additional chapters not being covered are Chapter 8- that reviews some ways to help students adopt a growth mindset.  Chapter 9- reviews some ways that our school staff can maintain a growth mindset and school culture.

 

 

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