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Affective Characteristics and Needs of Gifted Students in Poverty. By Kathy Considine, Marge Brisky, Trudy Jeske & Janine Malavasi. POVERTY IS NOT JUST ABOUT MONEY, BUT THE “EXTENT TO WHICH AN INDIVIDUAL DOES WITHOUT RESOURCES” (PAYNE, 1998).
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Affective Characteristics and Needs of Gifted Students in Poverty By Kathy Considine, Marge Brisky, Trudy Jeske & Janine Malavasi
POVERTY IS NOT JUST ABOUT MONEY, BUT THE “EXTENT TO WHICH AN INDIVIDUAL DOES WITHOUT RESOURCES” (PAYNE, 1998)
Teachers’ perception of students is usually couched in middle class behaviors.
Students from poverty have many gifts and talents that rarely manifest themselves in recognizable and traditionally valued behaviors
Imagine the difference between the early years in a home of poverty versus a middle class household. The frequency of utterances and the length of speech varies significantly. The exposure to the world beyond the neighborhood is dissimilar. The types and availability of toys, tutoring, enrichment is unequal. The education level of the parents may also be a factor.
Are we identifying giftedness OR opportunity?
Teachers are not trained to be aware of giftedness . They tend to think the child should be tested for ADD and see the child as a behavior problem. Teachers who don’t understand the hidden rules of poverty all too often spend more time trying to remove a student from the gifted program than making the kind of adjustments and efforts needed to keep the student in the program.
Schools often claim that their gifted students represent all segments of the student population but in reality, research provides a very different picture. Most students come from one segment to the near exclusion of others. “For example, in one urban district only 8 percent come from economically disadvantaged-mostly black and Hispanic-who make up 58 percent of the school population, compared to 81 percent of white students who constitute little more than a third of the school population.”NAGC
Schools….Testing Schools themselves are problems.“Most schools are middle-class systems that operate from middle-class values. By treating all students in these schools equally, equity actually is compromised. For when traditional methods are used to identify gifted students, such as standardized instruments and performance samples, the outcome is predictable: a large majority of gifted students will come from middle class.” NAGC
Testing….. • Nontraditional Intelligence • “Students from poverty have many gifts and talents that rarely manifest themselves in recognizable and traditionally valued behaviors. For example, they may be very expressive and creative with language(A young lady in my class created a rap about the scientific method!) but because they use short phrases, poor syntax, and limited vocabulary, their expressions are usually not acknowledged as indicators of potential talent. Also because the student from poverty may know a great deal about such things as sports, entertainers, and gangs, this information is not considered valuable knowledge. Conversely, a middle class kid that knows the names of all the space shuttles and every dinosaur is seen as being very bright and gifted.” NAGC
Affective Characteristics The social emotional needs of the gifted in poverty are tendencies to be: • High energy ,very inquisitive • but should not be contrived as hyperactivity Teachers, administration must remember when introducing anything new, children of poverty will get excited-they probably have never seen or experienced that before.
Strong willed, creative when problem solving Children of poverty have to build resilience. They have to cope with crime and violence. Home sometimes is not a nurturing environment. Because of a lack of adult role models, many are raising themselvesand younger brothers and sisters.
ASYNCHRONOUS DEVELOPMENT • This can be a huge problem because the gifted are sometimes gravitate toward older children for friends. When the older children are in gangs, the child is torn between doing what is right-as told them in their middle class oriented school-or following their gang friends.
Self-esteem Because gifted students from poverty recognize their backgrounds are not equivalent to those of more affluent gifted students, feelings of inadequacy and a lowering of an already low self -image can occur. “Students from poverty may lack many of the resources necessary to meet the academic requirements of the traditional gifted programs” and this will also add to feelings of inadequacy. NAGC
Camouflaging one’s intelligence, underachievement • In gifted students of poverty, they may do this for several reasons: • It’s a way to express a need for attention • It’s a way to control a situation • With those two, sometimes home life is havoc. The teacher finds that she/he has to give much attention to children in poverty. Sometimes teachers can “win” those hard cookies over by just sitting down with them and listening because there are no adults at home that will give them attention. • “Relationships are a significant factor in the lives of students from poverty, and the gifted find that most of their friends are not in the program. Relinquishing friends for academics can be a huge dilemma and a painful sacrifice.” • NAGC
Administration…. In some schools, gifted testing is discouraged because there is no program at the school. The gifted students get pulled out so then test scores for the original school are lowered because of the loss of that targeted student. If the student is tested prior to fifth grade, meaning in 3rd or 4th, administration may approach the parents and asks them to keep the student in the original school until after fifth grade(to keep the good score)parents often agree for one of the following reasons:
A desire to keep young children (esp.girls) in the neighborhood school. • Satisfaction with the current program • Concern about undue pressure. • Conflicting advice from school personnel. • Lack of accommodations for disabilities. http://www.nagc.org/index.aspx?id=656
Needs…Answers…A List • Testing-a comprehensive assessment including “environmental skills”, problem solving, looking at all talents of the child. Include all stakeholder’s: peer, parent and teacher input in the decisions. • RID of school “grading” via tests like the FCAT to let teachers teach and have less pressure on administration to have their teachers and students perform like trained dogs. • Schools-All schools should have gifted programs, not just the elite schools. • Administration-Educate the administration to recognize gifted children so they can also recommend testing. Cross train all teachers on effective strategies for all learning styles (thinking maps?)
List continued! • Guidance Counselors-Free up time for guidance counselors so they can guide! Hire people to do the other jobs-FCAT administration, testing and so on. • Teachers-Train teachers to recognize gifted students and how to differentiate the curriculum for higher level thinking, not just for lower level. • Parents-make parents aware of these positive programs. Educate parents so they can ask the right questions. • Gifted Students-Adults need to listen to them more. They need to be tested fairly and to be all they can be. Allow them to have a nurturing teacher and not try to mold them into little trained dogs. They need to be allowed to try, create and fail in a safe and caring environment.