Last week, thinkLaw’s Colin Seale challenged readers to consider the needs of gifted students as urgently as we do other students who experience barriers to their full potential. This week, thinkLaw is back from the Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented’s giftED18 conference where we got to catch up with several of our current partners, including San Antonio’s North East Independent School District.
A common misconception among the general public, and even those in education, is that gifted and talented students will be “just fine.” They are, after all, very smart and therefore should be able to find success with little or no guidance. This harmful myth has led to an inequality gap in United States education that leads to gifted and talented education being overlooked. The truth is that the over 3 million identified gifted and talented students in the United States are a very diverse group of students with a unique set of skills and challenges. Gifted and talented students need educational programming specifically designed to foster their unique gifts and developmental gaps.
Improve your school’s gifted and talented programming with a professional development partnership with thinkLaw.
The challenge for schools when it comes to gifted and talented programming is not unlike the challenges faced in other areas of education: how do we meet the needs of all learners? The barriers to this goal are the same tired excuses: lack of time, lack of training, lack of resources. The solution? Gifted and Talented programs need to be designed in a manner that allows them to be both rigorous and scalable. There are pockets of phenomenal programming by very talented and dedicated teachers.
Texas has emerged as a national leader in gifted education with robust guidelines. For example, North East Independent School District in San Antonio employs 31 full-time gifted and talented teachers for just their elementary programs. Large programs have the benefit of creating greater access and serving more students. But creating consistency with regards to a high standard of rigor across such a large district creates unique challenges. That’s where thinkLaw comes in as a leading partner with North East ISD.
According to thinkLaw founder and CEO Colin Seale, “The challenge faced by North East ISD is to create a program that’s engaging, fosters critical thinking, and challenges a very large, very diverse group of g/t learners. The research is clear that issues of fairness and social justice are very motivating to g/t students. The thinkLaw program hooks students with real-life legal issues and then challenges them to a level of rigor you see all the way up to the Supreme Court. The program is very easy to implement and requires very minimal prep time for teachers.”
Melissa Hardin teaches K-5 gifted and talented students in the North East Independent School District and has used thinkLaw with her upper grades. She says that she finds that it not only engages them intellectually (sometimes they want to stick around and continue talking about a case instead of going to recess!), but that it also has been great for her student’s social-emotional development. “thinkLaw challenges them to argue both sides and be devil’s advocates. This is really important when kids can feel so passionate about being right,” she says. “Arguing both sides helps them understand the perspective of others.”