Sunday, September 18, 2011

TAGT and me - YIKES!

I've had this passion in my educational life the past few years.  It started in Taiwan, when I was teaching at the international school there.  I was trying to figure out how to reach a handful of students within that community.  They struggled in the classroom, but they were obviously smart and talented.  Teachers were beginning to give up on them.

I noticed that these students were mainly students who were ADD, ADHD or ultra-creative in the way they expressed themselves.  They HATED to be told the steps to do things.  Rather, they liked to figure out steps on their own.  They loved problem solving, and in fact, that's where they got their energy from.  Telling these students how to do things sucked the life right out of them.  However, if I put a problem on the board with the answer, and asked them how I got the answer, their eyes immediately lit up, and they were involved.  I had them hook, line and sinker.  Once they learned the steps in this way, they had them forever.  No skill and practice was needed at all.

I didn't come up with these initial ideas on my own.  I found a website constructed by a woman named Dr. Linda Kreger Silverman.  She had been studying these types of students since the 70's, and had even coined the term that we use to describe them to this day:  the Visual Spatial learner.  I studied just about everything Dr. Silverman published on this type of student, and I've become a huge advocate for this type of learner at my schools.  I've found that these students are huge assets in any classroom, and have amazing learning abilities, even though they learn quite differently from the way we teach in a regular classroom.  They struggle desperately in the early years, and if not caught early, these learners can become so beaten down that they lose all interest in school and eventually drop out.

I happen to be married to a visual spatial learner, and I'm one myself.  As a result, two of my children also learn in this manner.  So you can see the amount of personal interest I have in the topic, and why, after no thought whatsoever, I submitted this topic as one I would be willing to present at the Texas Association of Gifted and Talented conference, held in Austin this year.  It's a state conference, and GT teachers from all over the state attend to learn more about the students we hope to inspire.  I never thought my topic would be accepted.  It was.

So now I'm presenting about visual spatial learners to teachers from all over the state this November.  And to make it even more nerve wrecking, Dr. Linda Kruger Silverman is one of the keynote speakers. 

What was I thinking????  Better get my game on!

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