Saturday, October 12, 2013

Learning and Sharing

You know, learning is a lifelong venture.  I believe that to my core.  I have never felt that there will come a time when I've "arrived" in learning and can finally turn off that part of my brain and just relish in what I've learned, and only impart my wisdom and knowledge to those who know less than me.  In fact, I think I learn even from the youngest among us as well.  It always amazes me how much a young child learns in such a short time.  That level of learning would burn me out at this time in my life.

There's this children's book called "Zoom."  It's a wonderful book and kids love it. It starts off with the page above, and with each page turn, the reader is pulled back to see more of the picture.  This picture happens to be the comb of a rooster. The page after this is of two kids looking through the window at the rooster, and the page after that is the house the kids are in who are looking at the rooster.  On and on the book goes, and each page turn gets "Ooo's and Aaaah's" from the kiddos.  It's pretty fun.

But then I relate the book to life.  I ask them, "If each page represents something big you've learned that changes your view of how the world works, and this entire book is a lifetime, where would you say you are in this book?"  The responses are wonderful.  The 5th graders and most of the 4th graders get the question and what it means.  And quite developmentally so.  They give answers like "Maybe two or three pages into the book."  I had one third grader, though, tell me he was close to the end of the book.  I said, "Really?  Because I don't think I'M even halfway through it!"....just to give him some perspective.  But he thought a second and said, "Yeah.  I'm almost to the end.  I'm pretty smart."  Mind you, all of these kids are gifted kids, so they will get questions like that, but this child's answer makes me smile every time I think of it.

I have been asked lately, however, to teach adults.  It's pretty humbling, because I am only a few steps ahead of others, but there it is.  My expertise is about gifted kids, specifically those who are twice exceptional and may have some learning difficulties.  I'm concerned about the RTI process in our schools, because kids who are gifted, but have learning disabilities, are not being identified.  There was a time when students were identified with full out educational psych evaluations, and it was easier to see if a child had a learning disability with that information. The current system is reliant on teacher knowledge of what a twice exceptional child looks like in the classroom, and that training just isn't given.  I teach gifted kids at two schools whose combined population equals 1100 students.  I have one twice exceptional student.  One.  Out of 1100.  It's sad, because that means there are quite a few students who are not receiving the services they desperately need.

We've zoomed in on education over the last 15 years or so, but I believe it's time to zoom out.  We need a paradigm shift in regards to how we are serving our students.  THAT's some knowledge I know I can impart.  If I'm wrong, I'm willing to learn.