Community and Resource Center for Gifted Students and Their Advocates
GiftedWorks is founded and run by Kristin Baker, Lead Teacher of STEM and Teacher of Gifted & Talented at Mansfield Township Elementary School in Port Murray, New Jersey. Ms. Baker has been teaching since 2000 and specializing in Gifted Education since 2005.
“All students deserve the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.”
— Kristin Baker
The Rationale for Challenge
Three reasons why students should encounter continual challenge:
1. Students are in school to learn.
There is a common misperception that advanced learners do not need to be taught. Perhaps you have heard something like this:
"Those high kids will be just fine."
"You can just let them go!"
Or even, "I take no responsibility for teaching your child," said with a smile.
Grade level skills are NOT everything. It is our responsibility as educators to take our students to the next level, whatever that level might be.
You have a right to...
know about your giftedness.
learn something new everyday.
be passionate about your talent area without apologies.
have an identity beyond your talent area.
feel good about your accomplishments.
seek guidance in the development of your talent.
have multiple peer groups and a variety of friends.
choose which of your talent areas you wish to pursue.
not to be gifted at everything.
2. Growth Mindset: Students must learn to strive.
Carol Dweck's work on mindset shows the importance of connecting effort with success.
If students continually "succeed" without expending true effort, they discount the result.
They fail to develop the skills of persistence and effort.
When they do encounter genuine challenge, they lack the strategies to work through their frustrations.
Elementary grades are not too early to learn to strive! Not only that, but waiting until middle or upper grades may leave students with a "fixed mindset." Students with a fixed mindset often give up more easily in the face of challenge, and they may accept failure as a reflection of self-worth or ability instead of connecting it to effort, with sentiments such as "I'm so bad at math. I'm dumb." compared to the healthier, growth mindset sentiment "I need to practice division more."
For more information on Carol Dweck's work, visit her website, MindSet.
3. Behavior issues are minimized when kids are engaged.
Learning is the opposite of boredom, and learning is the antidote to boredom.
Students learn best in the Zone of Proximal Development, where they are presented with an appropriate level of challenge that piques their interest and encourages them to use what they know to expand their skills. An article worth reading is "Boredom and Its Opposite," from ASCD.
The above chart is from Mansfield On Track, which has additional resources on overcoming underachievement.
About Ms. Baker
Kristin Baker is the teacher of Gifted & Talented at Mansfield Township Elementary School in Port Murray, New Jersey.