Professional Training for Teachers
of the Gifted and Talented
ERIC Identifier: ED262525
Publication Date: 1984-00-00
Author: Jenkins-Friedman, Reva - And Others
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Handicapped and Gifted Children Reston VA.
Educators have always supported and challenged the abilities of the gifted and talented.
However, only in the twentieth century has an academic discipline existed to provide
training for teachers of high potential youth. In the United States alone, over 100
universities offer courses and degree or certificate programs.
This Digest examines the roles of teachers of the gifted and talented, the roles of
regular classroom teachers, and ways they work together. It also discusses necessary
qualifications, ways to locate programs, and career opportunities in this field.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF TEACHERS OF THE GIFTED AND TALENTED?
Teachers of the gifted and talented are generally responsible for one or more of the
roles outlined below:
WHAT CAN REGULAR CLASSROOM TEACHERS DO FOR GIFTED STUDENTS?
- Organizing enrichment activities for students and teachers in the school
- Gathering and disseminating information about innovative teaching practices,
exemplary materials, resource persons, and special opportunities for gifted youngsters
- Coordinating regular curricular activities so bright students can work at a pace and
level commensurate with their ability
- Integrating regular curriculum and special program experiences
- Counseling and advising students, parents, and teachers about underachievement,
career and college selection, and special problems associated with giftedness
- Encouraging student attitudes of excellence, creativity, productivity, and leadership.
Regular classroom teachers are often the first professionals to recognize a gifted
student's potential, or the subtle manifestations of a student's abilities, if they are alert to
the characteristics of giftedness and the needs of these students. Through diagnostic
teaching, classroom teachers can help the gifted and talented gain access to needed
These teachers also can help gifted students by cooperating with the gifted program
teacher. Together they might modify schedules, instructional strategies, resource
selection, curriculum goals, product development, and evaluation procedures.
In addition, regular teachers can support special programs by working with other special
services staff in their building.
HOW CAN REGULAR CLASSROOM TEACHERS AND GIFTED/TALENTED
PROGRAM TEACHERS WORK TOGETHER?
The gifted facilitator and the regular classroom teacher should see themselves as team
members rather than competitors. Each must value the other's contribution to the
education of gifted and talented students. Gifted program teachers should consult with
regular classroom teachers to instill confidence and provide information about
giftedness and relevant teaching skills.
WHAT QUALIFICATIONS ARE NEEDED TO WORK WITH GIFTED STUDENTS?
Effective teachers of the gifted and talented enjoy working with challenging and
innovative students. They can recognize and program for unusual levels of ability,
differences in learning style and mode of expression, and student interest. These
teachers seek out advanced materials and unusual opportunities for their students, are
experts in their teaching specialization, and possess a broad repertoire of teaching skills
Some states require a graduate degree and/or special certification; others only require
the desire to teach gifted students. However, almost half of the states require, or are
considering requiring, a certificate in addition to a regular teaching license.
HOW DO YOU FIND OUT ABOUT TRAINING IN YOUR STATE?
State consultants for gifted education, generally found at State Departments of
Education, have information about various programs for the gifted and talented.
Universities, school districts, private educational corporations, and associations for the
gifted provide workshops and training programs.
Other sources include school district coordinators of gifted programs and national
organizations such as The Association for the Gifted (a division of The Council for
Exceptional Children), the National Association for Gifted Children, and the
National/State Leadership Training Institute on the Gifted and the Talented.
Your state association's newsletter probably carries publicity about short term
workshops (1-3 days) offered by private consulting firms. Professional journals,
magazines, and newsletters also carry national calendars of events.
WHAT ARE THE CAREER OPPORTUNITIES FOR WORKING WITH THE
Teachers of the gifted might pursue any of six professional tracks: working directly with
gifted youth; consulting with regular classroom teachers about gifted and talented
students; administering state, county, or city gifted education programs; teaching
college courses and conducting research in gifted education; and consulting with local
school districts, area service centers, and state or regional groups about programming
for gifted students.
A recent study has isolated the following interests and aptitudes as most important for
each track. Managerial-facilitative skills (conferencing with parents, keeping records,
making learning plans) were essential for consultants and direct contact teachers.
Pedagogical skills (demonstration teaching, observing a class, writing papers or articles)
were most important for university researchers and instructors and for free lance
consultants. Social-consultative skills (work-related socializing, quickly integrating
information and giving one's opinion) were also important for free lance consultants.
Directive and planning skills (convening meetings, writing grant proposals, having an
ongoing, long-term relationship with a group of people) and interactive skills (consulting
with colleagues, organizing and presenting material) were most needed by
By asking "Which profile do I fit best?" you can select a career path for gifted education,
or add a new dimension to an existing position. Each path may involve decisions about
certification, a degree program, or other training. A good person/position fit helps to
avoid "teacher burn-out" and is basic to success in this multifaceted field.
This publication was prepared with funding from the Office of Educational Research and
Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under OERI contract. The opinions
expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of OERI or
the Department of Education.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Barbe, W. B., and E. C. Frierson. "Teaching the Gifted--A New Frame of Reference." In
PSYCHOLOGY AND EDUCATION OF THE GIFTED, edited by W. B. Barbe and J. S.
Renzulli. New York: Irvington Press, 1981.
Bishop, W. E. "Successful Teachers of the Gifted." In GIFTED AND TALENTED
EDUCATION IN PERSPECTIVE, edited by J. S. Renzulli and E. P. Stoddard. Reston,
VA: The Council for Exceptional Children, 1980.
Dubner, F. S. "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Gifted Teacher." JOURNAL FOR THE
EDUCATION OF THE GIFTED 30 (1980):143-146.
Jenkins-Friedman, R., and P. G. Friedman. CAREER PLANNING FOR EDUCATORS
OF THE GIFTED AND TALENTED. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the
National Association for Gifted Children, Portland, OR, 1981.
Nelson, J. B., and D. L. Cleland. "The Role of the Teacher of Gifted and Creative
Children." In PSYCHOLOGY AND EDUCATION OF THE GIFTED, edited by W. B.
Barbe and J. S. Renzulli. New York: Irvington Press, 1981.
Reis, S. M., and M. B. Cellerino. "Guiding Gifted Students through Independent Study."
TEACHING EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN 15 (1983):136-139.
Renzulli, J. S. "Guiding the Gifted in the Pursuit of Real Problems: The Transformed
Role of the Teacher." JOURNAL OF CREATIVE BEHAVIOR 17 (1983).
Richert, S. "Training Teachers of the Gifted and Talented." JOURNAL FOR
EDUCATION OF THE GIFTED 11 (1980):63-65.
Wyatt, F. "Responsibility for Gifted Learners--A Plea for the Encouragement of
Classroom Teacher Support." GIFTED CHILD QUARTERLY 26 (1982):140-143.
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