Guidance for Gifted Students in the Classroom

Instructor: Linda Winfree

Linda has taught English at grades 6-12 and holds graduate degrees in curriculum and teacher leadership.

In this lesson, you will learn how to incorporate academic and career guidance for gifted students in your classroom instruction. Strategies include using interest inventories to guide research and connecting students with professionals.

Guidance for Gifted Students in the Classroom

Classroom guidance for gifted children is important for academic and career success. Gifted students are often at risk for underachievement; however, effective guidance can keep students motivated and moving forward. Also, giftedness leads students to many possible professional paths, and children need opportunities to explore those paths to discover the journey best suited for them.

Teachers often complain they don't have enough time to incorporate both academic instruction and guidance activities, but as a gifted teacher, you can combine guidance with instruction for maximum benefit. Let's look more closely at how you can use student interests to help them plan for the future while leveraging personal connections to increase students' future success.

Using Student Interests for Future Planning

The most effective means for incorporating successful career guidance is to focus on student interests. Joy teaches gifted students in late middle school, a time of adolescence when students are beginning to consider what their future holds.

As her eighth graders look forward to high school, they must consider what course pathways they wish to take, so early winter is a logical time for Joy to implement career and academic guidance into her classes. She plans a research unit in which students will explore various careers and reach out to professionals in those vocations.

Interest Inventories

Joy begins by asking students to complete academic and career interest inventories, which present a series of statements such as 'I would rather paint a picture than build a machine.' Students rank their level of interest, then total the resulting categories. This activity provides them with a variety of possible job fields that suit their areas of interest.

Next, Joy has students select their top areas of interest to explore the academic paths that lead to careers that interest them most. The school counselors join Joy's gifted students to discuss the high school courses and pathways students would need for various professions under research.

Interviews

After examining the academics required, students develop questions about these jobs, then conduct research to begin building a picture of what life in a certain career would be like. As a part of this research, Joy asks students to generate questions about their career interest and find a local adult working in their field of interest. Through email or a phone call, students conduct an interview about the daily life of a person in their chosen career.

After researching, students write reflections. If they remain interested in a field, they develop a plan to find further information about it. If their research helped them rule out a career, they select a new field and begin the process again.

Guiding Students through Personal Connections

Next, Joy uses the power of personal connection to help her gifted students with academic and career guidance. She works with local professionals to set up job shadowing days, in which students visit various employers to follow an adult through a typical day. This allows the young people to compare reality to the information found in their research.

If students remain interested in a career path after shadowing, they may engage an internship, or unpaid position in which they assume a role within the employer location. The student is immersed in the daily activities of the profession, which provides insight into whether this is an appropriate job choice for the student.

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