“Each child is unique and individual and as educators our job is to ensure that our environment and our teaching methods ensures the inclusion of all children.”
My name is Margaret Jackson and for the past thirty years I have been working in a sector that I am extremely passionate about; early years education. While I was working with my students, I became increasingly interested in the children who learned faster than others and wanted to learn how best to motivate them.
I came across ICEP Europe’s Teaching Gifted and Talented Students course and at first I was unsure if the online method of study would suit me. I soon found out that it really is so straight forward; the learning platform could not be easier to follow! The course content was well laid out and divided into very informative modules. Upon completion of the module, a question was raised by the tutor based on the topic presented on the online forum. The questions stimulated reflection on my own practice and challenged me to consider how I could improve while also showing me what practices myself and my colleagues were doing well. I found that the fact that I could print off the course content for each module and read it at my leisure whilst taking notes really helped the information to sink in and allow me to consider strategies that I could put into practice with the children.
While on the course, I learned that gifted and talented students are not just children who achieve high scores academically, they are children that also have talents for art, drama, sport and storytelling to name a few. So, our obligation as educators is to improve on our practice to ensure that all children are fully included and their strengths are nurtured.
The setting in my school is an emergent curriculum where all activities are based on the children within the group. We as teachers are skilled observers and we use our observations to ensure that all children get the opportunity to shine and to work at their own pace.
From what I learned on the course, my colleagues and I developed more teamwork activities among the children where they can use their talents to lead in areas that they are most skilled at. For example, some children are excellent story tellers and others are wonderful artists and our new activities allow these children to work in collaboration with each other to create a book.
We have updated policies to include gifted and talented children and have done inhouse training so that all staff are aware of this. This course has taught me that education is essential and by working closely with parents and families we get to know the children better, thereby becoming better educators.
What struck me deeply during my study was that children can be just as excluded for being gifted as a child with a disability if supports have not been put in place to ensure his/her inclusion. The gifted child can be at risk of isolation, low self-esteem and become bored in the classroom, all of which can lead to behavioural issues. We can all be guilty of seeing undesirable behaviours ahead of talents, but this course challenged me to consider that this behaviour was in fact the child telling me that his/ her educational needs were not being fully met. Once I recognised this and supported the child in developing their gifts and talents, I saw the unwanted behaviours reduce immediately.
I would highly recommend this course to parents, teachers and students working with children of all abilities. Education is key to ensuring the wellbeing of all children and together with early intervention to ensure inclusion, we will see happier children that will grow into confident and competent adults.
If you want to develop you career and teaching styles like Margaret, you can enrol on the spring term of our Teaching Gifted and Talented Students right now here.