In most classrooms across the nation, it is reasonably easy to ascertain which students process, retain and apply the information most readily.

While they may also be the students who achieve the highest grades in the selected course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that those individuals meet the definition of gifted. According to the National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC), the gifted moniker is reserved for those individuals who perform within the top 10 percent on standardized, nationwide assessments.

Gifted does not always relegate itself strictly to one, succinct measure. For example, giftedness may manifest for a single individual in more than one domain, like mathematics, music, or language. Furthermore, there are gifted indicators in skills measuring such abilities as painting, dance, and sports. Giftedness is often recognized by educators who notice a student whose command of the content allows him or her to progress at a faster pace with an enhanced level of competency when compared to his or her peers.

Giftedness is less challenging to recognize when it is continually monitored by focused parents and educators. However, tTalents are no less prevalent within children in poverty or of any specific demography.

Therefore, it becomes incumbent upon educators and mentors alike to be attuned to the possibility that powerful talents maybe occluded by a child’s environmental situation. Barriers may include not only poverty but also cultural biases and physical and/or learning disabilities which may lead one to overlook a child’s exceptional ability in select domains like mathematics based on the child’s non-conformance or rule avoidance in other academic areas.

Perhaps one of the most important tenants of gifted student identification and support is that even the most gifted of students cannot reach his of her full potential in an environment of benign neglect. Successful strategies when working with gifted students in their talent domains include adapting an accelerated pace, utilizing flexible ability grouping and employing targeted pull-out programming to ensure that student exceptionalities are nurtured.

For example, a student with an exceptional talent in the mathematics domain is not adequately served if his or her talents are only used to tutor other students within his age range. A gifted math student is much more likely to thrive if he or she is pulled out of the class with his chronological aged peers to join a more accelerated class setting where his command of the domain can be fully explored.

Readers interested in learning more about the many facets of gifted education are encouraged to research the NAGC at www.nagc.org to discover many of the unique abilities identified as gifted as well as many of the successful strategies available to ensure that gifted students are identified, encouraged, and supported along their journey toward exceptionality for the benefit of society for generations to come.

Angela Farmer is an assistant professor of educational leadership for Mississippi State University. Readers can contact Farmer at asfarmer@colled.msstate.edu.

Angela Farmer is an assistant professor of educational leadership for Mississippi State University. Readers can contact Farmer at asfarmer@colled.msstate.edu.

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