Access Creates Equity
Cultivating The Gifts of All Students
Blog 1 – Part 2 of 2
Asking The Right Questions?
Brian’s Question & Answer(Q & A) with Morgan Huynh
How can schools make gifted education a pedagogical resource for ALL Students?
Question: 1) How did you as the Advance Academics Resource Teacher view your role and build capacity with teams to help them use Advanced Academics Curriculum/Resources with all students?
You (The Administrator/Principal Team) told me to figure it out( Morgan Laughs). You did say that you would really like me to be in planning meetings for language arts and math with teams. It was super beneficial because I was able to be there with teams, hear what each grade level was doing and find the logical places to plug in some of the knowledge that I had about the curriculum, and (for example) oh this is a place where you could use this strategy or this piece of curriculum and model for teams what it looked like or build resources for them around you know Socratic Seminar. Do you need a SMART Board to go with it? We are sitting at the table with the ESOL(English Language Teachers), Special Education and the classroom teachers and saying if all students are going to do Socratic Seminar there is a lot of background knowledge that some students need to get caught up on or there is vocabulary that needs to be front loaded from a language perspective. So, thinking strategically about small groups of students and how we were going to make sure that everybody could come to the table with the information they needed to be successful. The only way we could really do that was by all being there together.
2) Why is it important to give all students access to curriculum that is traditionally only given to kids with the GT or AA Label?
I think generally what is considered Advanced Academics Curriculum or what is chosen for those programs is just good curriculum. It’s curriculum the based on best practice, it’s based on practices like inquiry-based learning, cooperative learning, strategies like visualizing and really those are things that all students should be learning right? So, instead of the more traditional linear route of thinking a lot of that AAP (Advanced Academics Curriculum focused on divergent thinking and finding multiple solutions or considering multiple perspectives or taking details and connecting them to larger concepts which are things that you want students to be able to do and are skills that you would want them to carry into adulthood.
3) What would you say to those educators who are hesitant to embrace this Schoolwide philosophy.
It’s intimidating. I wouldn’t say it’s easy necessarily to implement. It takes work and figuring out and it takes collaboration but it’s extremely beneficial. So, I think it’s feeling uncomfortable and putting in the time and work and thinking about what it’s going to look like for students but trying to do that with the help of other people. Drawing on the other resources that you have like the ESOL(English Language) teacher, Special Education Teacher, other teachers on your team. Thinking about I have this piece of curriculum, or I have this strategy that I want to use and I’m not sure how it’s going to go. Once you start doing something and feeling more comfortable with it, it becomes easier for you for your students because they have had access to it before and something that felt so intimidating in the beginning doesn’t feel that way after time. It just feels like your normal routine. It really pays off in the end and you will be really surprised with what your students can bring to the table. Like in a Socratic Seminar students who would never raise their hand normally to share an answer have this new forum where they feel so much more comfortable speaking. It might take them some time, but I really do feel like it provides students who otherwise feel really intimidated in the classroom, it gives them different opportunities to learn and to speak and to share their own personal experiences.
4) Why is it important for a school to embrace a collaborative culture in which all take collective responsibility to make this a reality for all kids?
Before Mason Crest …When I taught in an Advanced Academics Center,(Gifted and Talented School) I taught third grade. All the students in my class had been identified for Level IV services(Gifted & Talented Highest Label) which was full-time Advanced academics(GT) Services. The feeling that I got is once they were “stamped” with that label it was like this idea of like they are fine, they are working above grade level, they don’t need additional supports(although not true). I never co-taught with another teacher. I didn’t know that existed. I collaborated with a few people on my team but never was able to see an ESOL Teacher model any thinking or observe them working with individual students. Same with Special education. They may pull students out of my class for a few minutes but as a teacher, an educator I wasn’t benefitting from seeing what they were doing with those students either. A lot of times I had student who I did feel like I was failing them because I had 30-31 students who had a variety of needs, and I was one person and didn’t know how to work with a (GT) student who was struggling with language, or I didn’t have the skills to work with a student who had an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for a certain need. Coming to Mason Crest, sitting at that table with every person who touched (work with) those students, first I was able to learn so much from my fellow educators; it built my capacity, and it built their capacity. And we shared all students so for everything, math groups, reading groups, groups where we were frontloading things for some sort of project, we all worked with different students (on the team). Sometimes the classroom teacher did not meet with a student from her class because I was meeting with the student from her class or the ESOL Teacher was meeting with that student. They didn’t worry about it (who was meeting with the student) because they knew (through our collaborative process) that student was still being met with individually and we all kept data on our students, and we came to the table with our knowledge about them. I might see something about a student that someone might not see in a whole group setting and the more that you share students and know them, the more information you can share about them. On a professional level it really helped us to learn from each other. For the students, they just had so many more people that they were interacting with and learning from throughout the day. It was invaluable