One of my goals for this year is to ramp up my blog readership to at least fifty visitors a day. This month, February – a short month, that goal will be hard to reach. I was on target until a few days ago when I noted a failure to reach the previously attainable number. I also missed blogging on Saturday due to being at our son’s place in Iowa. The visit with him was more important than my blog, as it should be.
But, with each passing day I am falling a little bit further behind my goal. That’s okay. I am still gaining followers, nearly every day . That fact, in itself, is pretty remarkable since I’ve blogged almost everyday for the last four years!
Some posts I thought would be stimulating are not, and others that I throw together quickly have been wildly popular, like my piece on Hanalei.
There are pieces I want to write the might cause some local strife. And, other posts that might seem elitist to some such as the posts I have written about gifted education. One post that has been on my list of drafts is about subject acceleration in schools. I have experience, as a parent, with this. Thus, I am qualified to speak from that perspective. This subject, as well as a desire to drive up my numbers served as provocation for my post today.
But with the pandemic’s interruption of what we knew as “normal” K-12 education, acceleration seems to be an odd topic right now. Most students are trying to get by with an altered platform, lack of social outlet, and diminished co-curricular options. To me this means that there are certainly still those students (and maybe, even a greater number) who are are not challenged. I am not placing blame on anyone here. “It is, what it is,” as the saying goes. However, challenging students will continue to be the case into the future – pandemic or not. In the recent past, acceleration has been an answer for some of these students, including mine.
So, how does acceleration work? Well, the answer is that it works differently for each student. And, the outcome of such acceleration is different for each individual as well. Today, I will recount how the process for our family started, back in 2006-2007. Since this is a fairly broad and emotionally charged topic, I felt it best to break the thoughts up that I want to share into smaller pieces. If you can relate to this topic or want more, please follow my blog for future posts on this subject.
At the time the acceleration journey began, our oldest was a sixth grade student. He had been serviced by our district’s talented and gifted staff (TAG) since third grade. As parents, we never pushed for anything before that……but there were signs, as far back as preschool, that he needed more. However, we offered a great deal of enrichment at home. Another reason we did not push was that our district offered a set of multi-aged classrooms for students in first through third grade. We thought this would be a great fit for our son, and it was a correct assumption. Unfortunately, the option dissolved with the retirement of one of the teachers after our son’s second grade year, so he went into a third grade classroom having done much of the work already. The advantage of multi-age, if you are unaware, is to allow the students to work to their abilities and have plenty of teacher and peer support while doing so. His third grade teacher, luckily, was one of the best at differentiating that we’ve ever known. She made his transition, along with some other TAG students, a year of continued growth with independent projects and some help from the TAG teacher who visited each class in its entirety that year. There were also a few small pull-out groups that involved these same students.
But, by the time sixth grade rolled around, we all realized what our son was capable of academically. It was in early October, just before the first parent teacher conferences when I got a phone call from his math teacher. Heart pounding, I really could not imagine why she was calling just before school got out for the day. Was there a problem?
What I heard next set the tone for the subsequent years of acceleration.
“Mrs. L.?” (teacher)
“I’m Mrs. H., Charlie’s math teacher.” (teacher)
“Oh, yes. What can I do for you? Is there a problem with Charlie?” (me)
“Well, not a problem, so to speak. I’m just calling about his math ability. I need to get him moved to another class. He already knows what I’m teaching and could probably teach the class himself! I need to get him out of here! ” (somewhat paraphrased from teacher)
And, in that one phone call, he jumped into algebra in sixth grade with two other boys who (I’m assuming) also received similar phone calls. Of course, there were some formalities. As a group, all three families met with the TAG teacher from the middle school, the principal, and the math coordinator for the district. It was in that meeting that benchmarks, proficiency, and test scores were discussed in generalities to protect the boys’ individual achievements. Questions were asked and answered. Acceleration was offered as an option for these students. The educators present believed that they could all be advanced and still do well, given the boys’ proven knowledge base and their work ethic. All three families agreed to the acceleration.
So, that’s how acceleration started for our family. We did not demand. We did not bribe. We did not smooze. We did not rant or rave or ask others “how to have our child accelerated.” We simply had been given an opportunity to have our son be challenged.
And, we took it.
Today is Slice of Life Tuesday. This weekly forum is hosted by TwoWritingTeachers.org. During the month of March, the same group hosts Slice of Life Story Challenge and encourages authors, bloggers, and educators to blog daily for 31 days. This year will be the fourth time I have participated. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderfully supportive group!
I can relate to this post on so many levels. First of all, like you, I’m always hoping that what I put out into the world will be read, thought of and appreciated by more and more people.
I can also relate to the thoughts about acceleration from more than one direction. As a teacher of gifted children, I know that acceleration is an option for many kids. When it’s done well, and for the right reasons, and with the right supports, it can create so much opportunity and growth.
I can also relate as a product of the gifted education system. My school tested and had wanted to grade-level accelerate me, both in kindergarten and in first grade. My parents declined. I think I turned out pretty well in the long run, but there are times I wonder how life might have been different had I been bumped up a grade.
I’m looking forward to reading part 2!
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Laine, Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. Yours is the only comment I received about this post….I’m sure you are not surprised. Neither was I! It is what happens when you talk of giftedness, don’t you think? Anyway, I never related well as a child. And, I was never in a gifted program, although I did take honors classes in high school. In reality, I never thought of myself as gifted until my boys were noticed as being such. I share so many of the same traits. I now recognize myself as a gifted adult, despite (like you) never being serviced in school. And, like you, I think I turned out okay as well. Some of my friends recognized the characteristics of giftedness in me, only I think because they share similar traits. My intensity is the biggest sign of my giftedness and it has always been such. There is so much that is misunderstood about a gifted life. Thank you for relating to my post!