Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bonbons and Unicorns

Frederick Douglas once said, "If there is no struggle, there is no progress."  

Given what has been going on in my mind in recent weeks, and the lack of sleep as a result of those thoughts, I'm about to make great progress at something -- I just wish I had a better vision for the final product.

In gifted land, every year is different.  Gifted doesn't, and shouldn't, have a curriculum that is followed year after year.  The philosophy behind identifying any student at either  end of the spectrum is to identify the characteristics that make the learner differently-abled, and create learning experiences to strengthen the learner based upon those differences.  So while the goals of learning support students, struggling to achieve the standards, are "treated" with interventions to achieve specific and defined goals, the same sort of definition of achievement can not be defined at a specific level for those at the other end of the spectrum.

There is no bar, no test, no rubric, to define success for every gifted student or program at a uniform level.

I'm not attempting to minimize the work of learning support teachers.  They are the hardest-working colleagues I know.  Each of them sits with a pile of proverbial keys trying to unlock the minds of their students, grabbing, trying, and tossing the keys as they search for one that will work.  Gifted students are different, because as Teachers of the Gifted, we have no idea what success looks like for each and every student.  How can we define -- yet alone identify -- the achievement of full potential?

My assignment changes with my caseload.  Next year, I won't be at the junior high, because my caseload is so high at the high school that I won't have room on my caseload for junior high kids.  Our involvement in the Intermediate Unit's SEE Seminar program has ended, and my colleague, Sarah, and I are working to design individual and unique experiences for a larger audience, a little closer to home.  I'm slated to teach two new rounds of Themes in Literature next year, expanding on two topics I've taught before in much less time -- Disney -- and Espionage.   And even though I've taught both before, I'm teaching to a whole new group of brilliance, with potential that is untapped, and may be entirely different, in terms of strength and interests, than any group I've ever taught.

Yes, there is much to be developed.  There are many new challenges facing me.  In a week, my summer starts.  While I'm eating bonbons and sleeping until noon, this will all magically right itself, landing perfect plans on my desk when I return in the fall.

Because, as you know, I teach in a land of unicorns, where magic happens every single day.