Let Go: Reverb10

I’ve seen a few people in the blogosphere do Reverb10. I don’t find all of the prompts interesting, so I’m not going to do them all, but today‘s spoke to me.

Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

I let go of feeling guilty because I enjoy working with gifted students more than other students.

I have known since before I was a certified teacher that I would not stay in the general education classroom forever because it just didn’t speak to me. I also knew that I wouldn’t do special education because I don’t have that amount of patience. But I wasn’t sure if I should do gifted ed—what I wanted t do—or if I should work with English Language Learners. I thought that ELLs needed good teachers “more” than gifted students.

Well, I discovered in Korea that I enjoy teaching EFL. But when I came back to America and was assigned that advanced math class last year—I knew that I could always do EFL abroad, but domestically, gifted is where my heart is.

Through taking my gifted endorsement coursework this year (halfway done!), and through paying more attention to gifted students, I’ve realized that gifted students are the foremost group of students left behind by No Child Left Behind.

Schools are held accountable for these subgroups:
Asian & Pacific Islander
American Indian
Other/no response (race/ethnicity)
Free/Reduced lunch
IEP (Special education)
LEP (Limited English proficiency)

Do you see gifted kids on that list? Of course not.

Gifted kids are the ones being left behind in public schools. They are often being kept behind, doing boring, uninteresting coursework. Most of them don’t grow one full school year, and they certainly don’t grow as much as they could in one school year.

Why? Because the system expects them to “do fine” on their own. Because the system wants their high test scores. Because the system is focused on the “bubble kids” that will probably fail the state tests and drag the scores down. Because the system buys into the argument that offering gifted education is elitist. Because some teachers view gifted classes as a reward given out to teacher-pleasers, and thus actual gifted student who misbehave are ignored. (I got into an argument with a teacher about this last year. “If someone misbehaves, do you prevent them from going to ESL? If someone misbehaves, do you tell the sped teacher she’d not allowed to work with them? What makes being gifted any different?”)

The gifted kids need good teachers, too. And while I know I can pull up struggling learners (I have done it quite successfully, according to the standards and measures used in America today), I enjoy pushing the gifted learners forward. If I’m going to spend the next 30 years of my life teaching—or even only the next five—I’m going to spend it doing something I love.

And so the guilt is gone.