Teacher’s Survival Guide: Gifted Education: Author Q&A
Teacher’s Survival Guide: Gifted Education: Author Q&A
PUBLISHED: Wednesday, September 16, 2020 by Andilynn Feddeler

Teacher’s Survival Guide: Gifted Education (2nd ed.) is the perfect introduction to gifted education for beginning and early career educators, and provides field-tested, proven strategies designed to help teachers build their understanding of gifted education and gifted learners. Learn more about the book and taking on the journey of teaching gifted students in this interview with the authors, Julia Link Roberts, Ed.D., and Julie Roberts Boggess, M.A.

Q: What are topics you knew you needed to include in the second edition that were not in the first edition? 

A: In the almost 10 years since our first edition of Teacher’s Survival Guide: Gifted Education, many resources have been updated and created. For example, the 2019 Pre-K–Grade 12 Gifted Programming Standards needed to be highlighted for teachers working with gifted children in regular classrooms, gifted resource teachers, and special education resource teachers. A major idea developed in this second edition is that all educators and parents need a background in gifted education and talent development so that students have ongoing opportunities to make continuous progress and thrive, both in and outside of school. 

Q: What are some common misconceptions about teaching gifted students that teachers should be aware of?

A: Many well-meaning educators believe myths about children who are gifted and talented to be truths. For example, “gifted children will be fine” is thought to be true by many; however, that is like saying that a young athlete will be “just fine” without a coach. Of course, we know that isn’t the case. 

Acceleration is misunderstood by many educators and parents because they have limited information about the multiple ways that children can have their educational needs addressed by various types of acceleration (many think that grade-skipping is the only form of acceleration). Research on acceleration is robust and positive, and acceleration offers ways to accommodate the needs of gifted young people that have no cost associated with them.

The list of myths about gifted education is long, and, sad to say, these myths have persisted over decades. Teacher’s Survival Guide: Gifted Education provides information to whittle away at the mythology and to replace it with truths about gifted children. One recommended way to do that would be to do a book study with faculty. You can check out the end of the book for suggested book study formats for use with Teacher’s Survival Guide: Gifted Education.  

Q: How do gifted learners’ needs differ from those of other students? 

A: Academically, gifted children may be ready for more advanced content before many of their classmates are. The need to compact or eliminate content planned for age-mates is often overlooked by teachers who are focused on getting children to achieve at grade level. Children who are already achieving at grade level or beyond are held back in their learning when they are limited to levels that they have already achieved. Another need for gifted children is to have “idea mates” with whom to interact in classrooms. Clustering children who are advanced readers and/or highly interested in mathematics serves the children well as they interact on an ongoing basis with others who share their interests in an area in which they are advanced.

Q: How does this book address gifted students from underrepresented populations? 

A: Underrepresentation is a problem that continues to demand the attention of educators. The second edition of Teacher’s Survival Guide: Gifted Education discusses the identification of children and young people with a focus on best practices for identifying children from lower income families, Black and Latinx children, children with gifts and also disabilities, and those for whom English is an additional language. Current reports are included with a focus on the excellence gap, which shines a light on the underrepresentation of various groups of children among advanced learners. Best practices for identifying, providing services, and advocating for gifted children are discussed in this second edition, as addressing underrepresentation must be a central focus in gifted education and talent development today and in the future.

Q: What is a key piece of advice you would give any gifted education teacher? 

A: We recommend that gifted resource teachers, as well as other educators, consider themselves to be lifelong learners. Providing that role model for students is very important. Also, being a lifelong learner keeps gifted educators up to date—something that is necessary for being effective both today and tomorrow.

Julia Link Roberts, Ed.D., and Julia (Julie) Roberts Boggess, M.A., have worked with gifted students in many roles: elementary teacher, middle school teacher, director of summer camps for gifted kids, librarian, and parent of gifted kids. This mother-daughter team stays current in gifted education through their involvement at the local, state, national, and international levels.