It seems to me, the more I learn, the bigger thirst for knowledge I have. As I begin my Master’s studies this year, focusing on a more in-depth look at educational psychology through the lens of giftedness, I know that I will have to find a balance between home, my teaching job, and my studies. The days will be even longer and it will be even more important to manage deadlines, keep to schedules and routines, while still making time for rest and recharging. As I go to bed exhausted each night, I know I will wake up with a running list in my head of all that needs to get done, ready to face a new day with new challenges.
It has taken time to develop the skills I need to juggle all that I do: being a teacher, running a household, blogging, and now being a student again. Our children and students need to understand that these skills, so important to organizing your life, reaching your goals, and getting things done, don’t arrive overnight. Many of these executive skills are developed in school and while managing schoolwork expectations.
In pondering this, I came across a recent article in a special preconference issue of Tempo, the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented journal, that discusses the acquiring of executive skills when learning. Drs. Eleonoor van Gerven notes in “Preventing and Overcoming Underachievement in Gifted Primary School Students” that not every gifted student has well-developed executive skills. She suggests that the development of executive functions “are being hindered” in some circumstances where the gifted student:
- is not challenged to develop more complex thinking skills
- is allowed to withdraw from experiences that aren’t “fun”
- is not required to reach or stretch, limiting or negating any true learning
(paraphrasing is mine)
In the learning environment, it is important to create a balance between what a student is capable of learning, the level of content offered (offering a “stretch”), and the necessary support to help them be successful. They need opportunities to develop their ability to:
- Sustain attention to the task
- Flexibly shift attention from one thing to another productively
- Store new knowledge and connect it to previously acquired information
- Plan and prioritize
- Organize and manage time
- Persist towards a goal
These abilities are needed for more complex mental work, so providing activities and learning environments where these abilities are called upon more often gives the gifted student continuous opportunities to hone these skills across time.
As students follow their own passions and interests, it is as important to help them learn how to manage that pursuit to help them be successful and enjoy the journey!
(references to Tempo, Volume 38, Issue 3, 2017)
Please note: for those of you in the Texas area, it looks like Drs. Van Gerven will be at TAGT in Fort Worth this year.
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