One of the underserved student populations in America is gifted and talented students. These children are extraordinarily talented in one or more areas, but they are often at risk for becoming disillusioned with traditional classrooms. They may drop out of school, and the communities they live in will not benefit from the interesting and unconventional ways they learn. Gifted learners need a different kind of education with condensed curricula, deeper engagement and new experiences. Earning a master’s degree in gifted and talented can help you engage this group of students.
What Is the Value of a Master’s Degree in Gifted and Talented?
A specialized master’s degree program teaches the foundations of instructing exceptional children as well as the differences in behavior and brain function of gifted learners. This specialization may open the door to many new teaching opportunities. In addition, many districts do not offer separate programs for the gifted and talented, so teachers in regular classrooms with gifted and talented training will fare better than those who do not understand the differences.
What Is the Coursework for a Master’s Degree in Gifted and Talented?
A master’s degree program in gifted and talented instruction develops the foundations of teaching exceptional children. In addition, degree candidates specializing in teaching gifted learners can expect to study the following:
- Defining the gifted learner.
- Creativity and the gifted learner.
- Current issues in gifted education.
- Gifted and talented curriculum.
How Does Gifted Programming Make a Difference?
Gifted and talented students need more than a challenge in the classroom; they also need help identifying and cultivating their talents. The sooner educators identify gifted and talented students and begin developing their abilities, the sooner a gifted student can truly begin to excel. Gifted learners do not always learn effectively on their own. Even teachers leave many of these students to their own devices since they appear to outperform their classmates. A well-educated gifted and talented teacher can make a big difference in a gifted child’s life.
Becoming a Great Gifted and Talented Teacher Requires Knowing What to Look For
Some classroom teachers do not understand why gifted children need a different kind of education. These teachers have many responsibilities in the classroom, so differentiating instruction for gifted learners is not a top priority. In addition, these teachers lack the training to properly instruct these students, and administrators do not place much emphasis on gifted and talented programs. Some of the signs teachers can look for to identify gifted and talented students include the following:
- Unusual alertness as an infant.
- Rapid learning.
- Vivid imagination.
- Longer attention span.
- Abstract thinking.
- Associative reasoning.
- Intense emotions.
The signs vary significantly for each child, but teachers with the proper training and education in gifted and talented instruction are more likely to accurately identify gifted students. This will benefit gifted students by enabling them to get the type of education they need.
Learn more about Lamar University’s Master of Education in Teacher Leadership with a specialization in Gifted and Talented online.
National Association for Gifted Children: Classroom Instruction and Teacher Training for Gifted Students From Diverse Populations
Gifted Challenges: Why Some Teachers Just Don’t “Get It” About Gifted Education