Toward a Definition of a Gifted and Talented Teacher: Case Analysis

Toward a Definition of a Gifted and Talented Teacher: Case Analysis

Meta Lee Van Sickle (College of Charleston, USA), Julie D. Swanson (College of Charleston, USA), and Julianna Ridenhour (College of Charleston, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5879-8.ch021
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What shapes an individual into a teacher who is gifted and talented? How does one identify gifted or talented educators in education classes or in the schools? In an exploration of these questions, the authors review related gifted education literature to ground the synthesis of auto-ethnographies and case studies in what is known. Using grounded theory, the researchers analyze the stories of GATE teachers in Chapters 4 – 15 and identify common themes. The researchers use these findings to create a definition of the individual who is a gifted and talented teacher.
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Giftedness Through Lenses Of “Intelligence”

Exploration of differing conceptions of intelligence allows a beginning point for the question of what defines a GATE teacher. Acknowledging differing views and forms of intelligence offers a vantage point for thinking about what makes up “teaching intelligence,” if such a thing exists. These conceptions create a series of lenses to view and analyze the ethnographic data from the book’s chapters. One theoretical lens is Gardner’s seminal study on multiple intelligences (1993) where he asserts that individuals are smart in different ways, that what is seen as “intelligence” is what is valued in a culture, and that recognizing different ways of being smart is key to developing intelligence. A second lens through which to view intelligence is Sternberg (1999). Sternberg suggests that intelligences vary from profession to profession. Marland’s (1972) definition of areas of giftedness is a broader view defining giftedness and talent in terms of abilities. A fourth lens is emotional intelligence as described by Goleman (1995). Each lens will be briefly described.

Gardner (1993) composed a model of distinctive forms of intelligence, including: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Gardner’s theory broadened the way one thinks about intelligence and allows application of a more inclusive conception to thinking about the GATE teacher. For example, the GATE teacher might reflect interpersonal intelligence, an extraordinary ability to interact in powerful and effective ways with students. Possessing intrapersonal intelligence, too, might be an intelligence evident in the GATE teacher: displaying deep knowledge of strengths, a strong sense of efficacy, and reflective practice as a tool for knowing self. While not specific to Gardner’s theory, development of a variety of intelligences is not always possible through standard schooling and may require external mentors and other forms of learning such as being in the environment (e.g., out in the woods, in a choir or other settings). Being able to discover intelligences through a variety of opportunities is likely to support natural curiosity and interest driven passions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Overexcitabilities: Heightened sensitivities to stimuli in the environment.

Gifted Teacher: The teacher who has “it,” that intangible something special.

Noticer: A person who uses all senses to understand surroundings.

Warm Demanders: Teachers who tactfully insist that the student is able.

Democratic Teaching: A way of interacting with students that is authoritative, which builds a sense of community and responsibility through choices and decision making.

Grit: Courage and resolve to persevere.

Intelligence: Cognitive ability.

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