The Home and Community Connections Model: Shifting the Power From Teacher Differentiation to Learner Personalization

The Home and Community Connections Model: Shifting the Power From Teacher Differentiation to Learner Personalization

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8860-4.ch021
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A major myth of gifted education is the idea that gifted and advanced learners should already possess the knowledge and skills necessary to engage in rigorous learning experiences. This myth reinforces the underrepresentation of historically marginalized groups in gifted programs, as the institution does not value or recognize how they demonstrate knowledge. This chapter addresses that misconception by constructing differentiated learning experiences using students' home and community pedagogies. The Home and Community Connections Model authentically responds to the strengths, talents, and interests of each learner by purposefully designing classroom opportunities that value these areas. This chapter defines the prompts of the Home and Community Connections Model and demonstrates how they can be integrated into classroom instruction. The activation and recognition of potential through students' home and community assets create the access points for equitable educational experiences that challenge deficit-minded beliefs and misconceptions.
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Consider the following vignette:

A professor asked their students, who are currently enrolled in a graduate level teacher preparation program, to draw a picture of a gifted learner (Manzone, 2020). Their picture was to be accompanied by descriptors of characteristics exemplified by their version of this type of learner. The students were given five minutes to complete this assignment. They were then broken into small groups to debrief and uncover patterns of myths, misconceptions, stereotypes, biases, and racism highlighted in their pictures. The following list is a synthesis of their descriptors:

  • Gifted learners are white, middle-to-upper-class children.

  • Gifted learners are good at everything. They could not possibly have a learning disability.

  • Gifted learners are well dressed and compliant. They come to school ready and excited to learn.

  • Gifted learners do not need instruction because they already have the readiness and prerequisite skills necessary to be successful.

  • Gifted learners demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the same way.

  • Gifted learners are high-performing, always turn in their assignments, and score well on class projects and assessments.

The most dangerous and false myth surrounding the characteristics of giftedness is the belief that gifted and talented children constituted a single and homogeneous group (Borland, 2021; Ford, 2013; Reis & Renzulli, 2009). Students with gifts and talents exist in all cultural, racial, ethnic, and economic groups. Gifted services should reflect this diversity, yet they do not, and they have not for decades (e.g., Bonner & Goings, 2019; Davis, 2010; Ford, 2013; Grantham, 2004; Whiting, 2009). Since the 1960’s, research has documented the underrepresentation of students of color in gifted programs (Ford 1998; Grisson, Rodriguez, & Kern, 2017). Student identification rates for participation and services for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students remain significantly lower than their White and Asian peers (Gentry, Gray, Whiting, et al., 2019; Wright, Ford, Young, 2017). 3,635,533 students are missing from gifted services in the United States (Gentry, Gray, Whiting, et al., 2019). Of those missing, 771,728 (73.60%) are Black, 18,741 (71.53%) are Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 1,164,363 (66.41%) are Latinx, and 44,663 (63.25%) are American Indian or Alaskan Native (Gentry, Gray, Whiting, et al., 2019). Factors such as the teacher referral process, biased testing requirements, and “deficit perspectives of school personnel” contribute to the continued inequity surrounding access to gifted services (Sewell & Goings, 2020, p. 112). The patterns uncovered in the assignment described above highlight the ubiquitousness of a deficit mindset, and how explicit and implicit bias permeates aspects of identification, services, and perceived abilities of diverse gifted and advanced learners.

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