Monday, November 17, 2014

LTW: Teaching the #giftedchild: A #new #blog series

Welcome to a new section on my blog titled Lighting the Way. This blog is focused on teaching gifted and talented students but some of the techniques I talk about can be applied to a regular classroom. The series will run every Monday.

So why start this blog series? 
Gifted students have a harder time in regular classrooms and will often be the students who are failing. Educators and parents who are unfamiliar with gifted students may be frustrated as to why their child is so bright but are failing academics. Gifted students have a hard time with academics in the regular classroom because they become bored. It's not that they don't want to learn. The problem is that they are not being challenged enough. So what is a parent or educator to do with that child?
Welcome to Lighting the Way: Teaching the Gifted Child.

Ok, so you may be asking yourself what does a historical fiction author have to do with educating gifted and talented students? I'm so glad you asked!

I, like many other gifted children, was easily bored in school. When I was little my parents and most of my teachers didn't understand me. I began reading at an early age and by the time I was in Kindergarten I was writing my own stories and was already reading small books. I was obsessed with words, nature, and history. Like most gifted children, I did experience some developmental delays. I was placed in special education because my parents and teachers couldn't figure out what was causing my delays. But then came 2nd grade and I quickly worked my way out of that classroom. I began to read and comprehend reading material on a 5th grade level. I was reading Einstein's Theory of Relativity and fully comprehended it in 8th grade. My interests were all over the place from history, science, reading, social studies but never, ever, in math. I have an IQ of 130 but struggled as a child because I never received the support my students do today. I grew up thinking there was something wrong with me because I never fit in with my peers. I would much rather spend the day with adults than with children my own age.

I began my teaching career in 1999 when I taught music on the Mexican Border. after obtaining my BA in Theatre Arts. I did that for a few months then the school decided to cut their art programs. In 2001, I married the love of my life and the following year I started substitute teaching throughout West Texas from 2002 to 2006. I became a 2nd grade classroom teacher at Alamo Elementary in Fort Stockton, Texas in 2006 while I was working on my certification along with a Masters of Education as a Reading Specialist. I wanted to help low readers find academic success and enjoy reading as much as I do.

In 2008, I left the classroom and moved to Kentucky with my husband. I was two classes away from finishing my Masters. I tried to transfer my teaching certificate to Kentucky but they didn't recognize my Texas Teaching Certificate so I focused on starting my writing career. In 2010, the Kentucky Young Writers Connection hired me as their Executive Director. I created writing curriculum for the entire state and implemented it throughout the Kentucky State Park system. I recognized that I could combine my passion for education and writing into one career if I taught on the university level. I applied to the MFA program at Spalding University but was denied entry because I was already an accomplished published author.

A few weeks later, I applied for the MFA at Full Sail University and was granted entrance. I graduated with my MFA in Creative Writing in June of 2013. My husband moved to Indiana a few months later after I resigned my position with the Kentucky Young Writers Connection. I tried to move my teaching certificate from Texas to Indiana but they, too, do not recognize Texas Teaching Certification. I was hired by IPS as a second grade teacher but when my certification wouldn't roll over they had to let me go. I ended up working as a homeschool teacher and a nanny while searching for a teaching position. I decided if the public school system didn't want me then perhaps I could try to teach in a private school. Yet, every private school I applied for wanted Indiana certification. I tried to find a college teaching position but had a hard time doing so because I do not have a PhD. After months of searching I decided I would just get one. So I applied at Walden University and was accepted into their program. I am currently working on my PhD in Education with a specialization in Learning, Instruction and Innovation. Last month, I was hired by Ivy Tech Community College as an adjunct professor in the English Department. Then a miracle happened last week.

I applied to teach a 2, 3, and 4th grade class at Todd Academy. A few hours later, the headmaster called me for an interview. I went to the interview the following day and never left the classroom. I didn't realize that Todd Academy was a private school that only admits children with IQ's of 130 or above. I have absolutely fallen in love with the school. Most of the other educators are like me, geniuses. Can you imagine what life is like in our school? I can. Just watch the show Scorpion and multiply that by 50 students and 15 adults.

The struggles I faced throughout my life are an example of what the normal life of a gifted child is like in the real world. We live in our little world. But with help, we can understand the outside world just enough to be able to navigate it and live thriving lives.

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