Tuesday, August 7, 2007

We are ALL gifted

Almost teaching time again. One more week and I will be back to the grind. Teaching is my “day job”. I have a love / hate relationship with this job. However, whenever I watch somebody cleaning tables in the mall food court or stare down the supermarket cashier scanning one item after another and another and another, I am reminded teaching ain’t all that bad.
As a teacher, I don't believe in "gifted programs". Down here in my district that is a big thing and it makes my skin crawl when someone tells me their kid is "gifted". This is because I think we are ALL gifted in some way.
The kids I teach are a sorrowful bunch. They are all as far away from any gifted program as a kid could get. They are truly lost souls and most have never been told they do anything OK, let alone well. So at the beginning of each school year, I go from student to student, touch them on their shoulders and tell them one of their "GIFTS". Believe me, it is difficult at times trying to find something they are GOOD at. I do have to dig sometimes. The smiles on each kid’s face are worth the trouble though. I know this method makes an impact because I have kids come into my room years later and remind me what I told them is their gift.
Just today, I remembered being at my daughter’s 4th grade teacher conference. She had two teachers who team-taught. During the conference, all they did was tell me how "SOCIAL" she was. They complained that she was in everybody's business. No matter what the topic was (her grades were fine, she obeyed, etc.) it kept coming back to bitching because she was such a talker and a busy body. I left there feeling crappy and wondering why my child was like this. WELL, now I know that is her GIFT!!! She is 23 years old now and an associate producer for a major news network. That type of job needs a person to be social, talkative, in everybody’s business, and a general busy body! Her vocation REQUIRES that she has all the attributes those two teachers bitched about!
This is exactly why it is important to see the good and valuable traits in every individual we meet. We are all creative and special in our own ways. We are ALL gifted.


Martha Marshall said...

Sheree, what a wonderful post. It's so fortunate that you are there for those kids.

Your story about your daughter made me smile -- remembering, as I often do, that my second grade teacher's "remark" on my report card, intended to be a negative, said "All Martha ever wants to do is read and draw."

Sheree Rensel said...

Martha, I believe it! When I hear teachers say stuff like that, I tell them to let their students DRAW math or ILLUSTRATE what they read. A lot of times it falls on deaf ears. It is a control (authority) thing. Many teachers want kids to do what the TEACHER wants them to do regardless.
I never planned on being a teacher. However, sometimes we make plans and God laughs. So when I became a teacher, I really wanted to make an effort to see things from all angles. Maybe that is why I have been such a successful teacher. Who knows!

I think we all have educational "numb nuts" in our lives. My high school counselor kept steering me away from college prep classes. I think she thought I was too "artsy" or something. Well, "Mrs. Carley" was very wrong when she said, "Sheree, you aren't really college material!" Boy was she wrong. I have eleven years of college under my belt. Who looks stupid now??
Thanks so much for reading my blog!!

Janet Towbin said...

Dear Sheree,
I love this post about how each student is gifted though not always in ways that seem "appropriate" or "normal" at times. In fact, most artistic and/or creative students struggle to fit into a typical classroom atmosphere where their way of looking at the world and solving problems are different. How wonderful of you to find each student's "gift" no matter how difficult it might be for you to do so. That is a very enlightening practice. Thanks for sharing--it is brilliant.

Sheree Rensel said...

You are absolutely correct. It is kind of funny. I teach special ed kids. Not all of them are "art" kids. In fact, some of them HATE art. However, I know for sure that the ones who have "visual" learning styles might be at our school because the regular schools don't fit their needs. I guess I realized this a long time ago. That is why I have stayed as long as I have. I can relate to school being a confusing place sometimes. I remember just wishing they would show me a "picture" and then I would get it. That is what I am trying to do with these kids. I want them to SEE so they GET IT!!!