Student Support

Classroom spotlight:           Student Support

Serve the Need, not the Label: Next Frontier Inclusion, Selena Gallagher & Trish Curtain

The book mentioned above inspired me to write this blog. In February 2020, a number of interested educators met at the American School of Bombay to continue our narrative regarding the service and support provided to high ability/gifted and talented students in international schools. In this summit, the target audience included administrators, “gifted student” coordinators, teachers, and psychologists serving in international schools in different parts of the world. The goal was to share classroom practices and community building opportunities.

The consensus was that schools will have success in identifying the needs of their highly able learners by developing identification practices that have:

More emphasis on Program Driven Approaches  Less emphasis on Identification Driven Approaches
Providing opportunities for students to grow (from which strengths will emerge)Emphasizing screening, selection and placement
Creating new opportunities for recognizing and nurturing talents.A ‘medical’ model (does the student have ‘it’?)
Viewing identification as flexible, ongoing, dynamic and diagnosticA comparative model (who is ‘most’ in need?)
Focusing on the provision of appropriate and challenging instructionA percentage model based on statistical distribution
Linking identification to specific talent or performance domainsFocus on a categorical definition of giftedness and designating students as included or excluded

(Treffinger, Young, Nassab, Selby and Wittig, 2008)

The traditional approach to gifted education has a strong emphasis on identification; however most international schools worldwide have shifted their focus from identification to a better question: “Who are our students who currently have unmet needs, what are those needs, and how can we best meet them?”

The identification of highly able students can be a complex task, especially because they have uneven patterns of development: academically, socially, emotionally and physically. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity (Silverman, 2005). Sometimes, the highly able students also have a dual diagnosis; for example, (highly able/talented as well as having behavioral and/or academic challenges).

At MIS we develop robust practices that have a strong foundation in equity and inclusion that are supported by research and align with our school’s Mission and Vision. The focus is to support our high ability students via a differentiated model in the classroom. This is facilitated by open-ended inquiry learning that is at the root of our educational beliefs, providing opportunities for students to explore interests, express talents and deepen their own understanding. This is aligned with the research on best practice in supporting highly-able students and is also in keeping with the MIS Definition of Learning:

We believe that learning happens best when the process is

Learner CentricConceptualContextual
MetacognitiveSocialEmotional/ Emotive

At present we are discovering and building service for All students in the classroom (Gagne’s DMGT model 2.0) with a focus on differentiated instruction including curriculum compacting. In a nutshell, this means:

  • Differentiation occurs in a regular classroom.
  • Differentiated and challenging content and processes for all students.
  • Deliberate instruction in productive thinking tools and metacognition
  • Exposure to a diverse array of topics, themes or talent areas.
  • Providing opportunities for ‘talent spotting’
  • Curriculum compacting where appropriate

We believe as a community that “All children deserve to learn something new every day” (Dr. Julian. C. Stanley)

Ms. Harjyot Malhotra