ERIC Identifier: ED262525
Publication Date: 1984-00-00
Author: Jenkins-Friedman, Reva - And Others
Clearinghouse on Handicapped and Gifted Children Reston VA.
Professional Training for Teachers of the Gifted and Talented.
Educators have always supported and challenged the abilities of the gifted
and talented. However, only in the twentieth century has an academic discipline
existed to provide training for teachers of high potential youth. In the United
States alone, over 100 universities offer courses and degree or certificate
This Digest examines the roles of teachers of the gifted and talented, the
roles of regular classroom teachers, and ways they work together. It also
discusses necessary qualifications, ways to locate programs, and career
opportunities in this field.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF TEACHERS OF THE GIFTED AND TALENTED?
Teachers of the gifted and talented are generally responsible for one or more
of the roles outlined below:
--Organizing enrichment activities for students and teachers in the school
--Gathering and disseminating information about innovative teaching
practices, exemplary materials, resource persons, and special opportunities for
--Coordinating regular curricular activities so bright students can work at a
pace and level commensurate with their ability
--Integrating regular curriculum and special program experiences
--Counseling and advising students, parents, and teachers about
underachievement, career and college selection, and special problems associated
--Encouraging student attitudes of excellence, creativity, productivity, and
WHAT CAN REGULAR CLASSROOM TEACHERS DO FOR GIFTED STUDENTS?
Regular classroom teachers are often the first professionals to recognize a
gifted student's potential, or the subtle manifestations of a student's
abilities, if they are alert to the characteristics of giftedness and the needs
of these students. Through diagnostic teaching, classroom teachers can help the
gifted and talented gain access to needed special services.
These teachers also can help gifted students by cooperating with the gifted
program teacher. Together they might modify schedules, instructional strategies,
resource selection, curriculum goals, product development, and evaluation
In addition, regular teachers can support special programs by working with
other special services staff in their building.
HOW CAN REGULAR CLASSROOM TEACHERS AND GIFTED/TALENTED PROGRAM TEACHERS WORK
The gifted facilitator and the regular classroom teacher should see
themselves as team members rather than competitors. Each must value the other's
contribution to the education of gifted and talented students. Gifted program
teachers should consult with regular classroom teachers to instill confidence
and provide information about giftedness and relevant teaching skills.
WHAT QUALIFICATIONS ARE NEEDED TO WORK WITH GIFTED STUDENTS?
Effective teachers of the gifted and talented enjoy working with challenging
and innovative students. They can recognize and program for unusual levels of
ability, differences in learning style and mode of expression, and student
interest. These teachers seek out advanced materials and unusual opportunities
for their students, are experts in their teaching specialization, and possess a
broad repertoire of teaching skills and techniques.
Some states require a graduate degree and/or special certification; others
only require the desire to teach gifted students. However, almost half of the
states require, or are considering requiring, a certificate in addition to a
regular teaching license.
HOW DO YOU FIND OUT ABOUT TRAINING IN YOUR STATE?
State consultants for gifted education, generally found at State Departments
of Education, have information about various programs for the gifted and
talented. Universities, school districts, private educational corporations, and
associations for the gifted provide workshops and training programs.
Other sources include school district coordinators of gifted programs and
national organizations such as The Association for the Gifted (a division of The
Council for Exceptional Children), the National Association for Gifted Children,
and the National/State Leadership Training Institute on the Gifted and the
Your state association's newsletter probably carries publicity about short
term workshops (1-3 days) offered by private consulting firms. Professional
journals, magazines, and newsletters also carry national calendars of events.
WHAT ARE THE CAREER OPPORTUNITIES FOR WORKING WITH THE GIFTED/TALENTED?
Teachers of the gifted might pursue any of six professional tracks: working
directly with gifted youth; consulting with regular classroom teachers about
gifted and talented students; administering state, county, or city gifted
education programs; teaching college courses and conducting research in gifted
education; and consulting with local school districts, area service centers, and
state or regional groups about programming for gifted students.
A recent study has isolated the following interests and aptitudes as most
important for each track. Managerial-facilitative skills (conferencing with
parents, keeping records, making learning plans) were essential for consultants
and direct contact teachers.
Pedagogical skills (demonstration teaching, observing a class, writing papers
or articles) were most important for university researchers and instructors and
for free lance consultants. Social-consultative skills (work-related
socializing, quickly integrating information and giving one's opinion) were also
important for free lance consultants.
Directive and planning skills (convening meetings, writing grant proposals,
having an ongoing, long-term relationship with a group of people) and
interactive skills (consulting with colleagues, organizing and presenting
material) were most needed by administrators.
By asking "Which profile do I fit best?" you can select a career path for
gifted education, or add a new dimension to an existing position. Each path may
involve decisions about certification, a degree program, or other training. A
good person/position fit helps to avoid "teacher burn-out" and is basic to
success in this multifaceted field.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Barbe, W. B., and E. C. Frierson. "Teaching the Gifted--A New Frame of
Reference." In PSYCHOLOGY AND EDUCATION OF THE GIFTED, edited by W. B. Barbe and
J. S. Renzulli. New York: Irvington Press, 1981.
Bishop, W. E. "Successful Teachers of the Gifted." In GIFTED AND TALENTED
EDUCATION IN PERSPECTIVE, edited by J. S. Renzulli and E. P. Stoddard. Reston,
VA: The Council for Exceptional Children, 1980.
Dubner, F. S. "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Gifted Teacher." JOURNAL FOR THE
EDUCATION OF THE GIFTED 30 (1980):143-146.
Jenkins-Friedman, R., and P. G. Friedman. CAREER PLANNING FOR EDUCATORS OF
THE GIFTED AND TALENTED. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National
Association for Gifted Children, Portland, OR, 1981.
Nelson, J. B., and D. L. Cleland. "The Role of the Teacher of Gifted and
Creative Children." In PSYCHOLOGY AND EDUCATION OF THE GIFTED, edited by W. B.
Barbe and J. S. Renzulli. New York: Irvington Press, 1981.
Reis, S. M., and M. B. Cellerino. "Guiding Gifted Students through
Independent Study." TEACHING EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN 15 (1983):136-139.
Renzulli, J. S. "Guiding the Gifted in the Pursuit of Real Problems: The
Transformed Role of the Teacher." JOURNAL OF CREATIVE BEHAVIOR 17 (1983).
Richert, S. "Training Teachers of the Gifted and Talented." JOURNAL FOR
EDUCATION OF THE GIFTED 11 (1980):63-65.
Wyatt, F. "Responsibility for Gifted Learners--A Plea for the Encouragement
of Classroom Teacher Support." GIFTED CHILD QUARTERLY 26 (1982):140-143.