Once you have identified students who are advanced, with complex needs, what are some ways you can support them within the regular classroom day?
With advanced students, they have had to build a tolerance for the art of waiting for others. This is probably one of the most challenging aspects of their schooling life and can lead to behaviour challenges as they can disengage. So the number one support teachers could provide for students is PACE. Especially in the students' areas of strength. Can the student move through material more quickly and have more work to move into?
A second area is DIFFICULTY. Is it possible to start them at a more challenging level? Those parts of the programme that are solid foundations for less able students become an obstacle for the advanced student. When using resources, is it possible for the gifted mathematician to start at the end of a given topic? Often students say just when a topic gets interesting, they are required to move on to the beginning of the next topic. Or for the writers/authors who have advanced word knowledge and use; spelling lists are no longer applicable and students can experience this as a rote exercise with little purpose.
CHOICE is another tool classroom teachers can use for the advanced student. Giving the student the decision over how their understanding is communicated can give them the freedom to work in their areas of strength. Being given more choice and freedom to make their own decisions is a skill to be learned and they don’t all get it bang on for the first attempts, however it is an area that will reap huge benefits for the gifted student throughout their learning life.
MEETING HALFWAY….is a concept of relationship building between the advanced thinker and their classroom teacher, where both parties can advocate and actively work together to tweak a programme towards the learners favour. Our advanced students have areas in their lives and learning that are intense, and weaker or areas of deficit (as we all do). But if they have some autonomy in their strength areas, they build the self awareness and confidence to manage in the difficult areas also.