Understanding the Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted Students: Author Q&A
Understanding the Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted Students: Author Q&A
PUBLISHED: Monday, January 25, 2021 by Andilynn Feddeler

The second edition of Understanding the Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted Students presents a comprehensive treatment of social and emotional development in high-ability learners. Learn more about the book and the social and emotional characteristics and behaviors of gifted students in this interview with the author, Thomas P. Hébert, Ph.D.

Q: What is new to this second edition that wasn’t included in the first? How did you select topics?

A: The changes that were incorporated in this second edition were a response to a number of contemporary issues in the lives of gifted kids that have emerged since the book was first published in 2011. For example, I selected topics such as gifted kids experiencing bullying and microaggressions. More recent examples of scenarios in the social and emotional lives of gifted students are incorporated throughout the book. The theoretical and research literature discussed was updated with the latest studies in our field. 

Classroom strategies for addressing social and emotional development were also revised, and the collection of resources to support professionals in gifted education research and practice now include the latest materials available.

Q: How is the book structured? What resources are included?

A: Literature reviews are provided for a deeper understanding of the social and emotional development of gifted students. Each chapter provides a wealth of vignettes and examples from my published qualitative research studies. In addition, biographical examples from prominent individuals in American society highlight many of the issues discussed. 

The book provides a bridge from theory and research to classroom practice and concludes with a plan for designing supportive classroom environments for gifted students.

Q: What different populations of gifted students are included in the book? Why are considerations for these groups important?

A: I have addressed the complexity of social and emotional issues with culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse gifted students, gifted underachievers, and twice-exceptional students. I have also added a discussion of recent research on identity in sexual and gender minority youth and young adults. These special populations of students face difficult challenges that are a source of concern for educators, counselors, and parents. They are often at risk, and without proper understanding and support, their needs will not be addressed.

Q: What first steps can educators take to create empowering environments for gifted students? 

A: The first steps involve teachers doing as much as they can to get to know their students well. Taking the time to build a sense of community in the classroom is critical. The final chapter in this book provides concrete examples of strategies that teachers can implement, particularly in the beginning of an academic year, that help to create a psychologically safe environment where gifted students feel comfortable being themselves, engage in learning, and become empowered to develop their talents.

Thomas P. Hébert, Ph.D., is Professor of Gifted and Talented Education in the College of Education at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Hébert’s research interests include social and emotional development of gifted students, culturally diverse gifted students, and problems gifted young men face. Dr. Hébert has received numerous research and teaching awards, including the 2000 Early Scholar Award from the National Association for Gifted Children and the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award from the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut.