After canceling a couple of mini conferences this spring due to the ongoing pandemic, SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) went virtual last week with a four-day online conference event. Led by upwards of 20 experts in the field of gifted and talented education, more than 170 registered guests took in 19 sessions on a variety of topics — from strength-based pedagogy for gifted learners to areas such as perfectionism, misdiagnosis, neurodiversity, and more. Based on the immediate feedback from attendees, the event was widely considered a success.
Each session comprised a one-hour presentation with added time for questions from the audience. The event began with Drs. Jack Naglieri, Dina Brulles, and Kim Lansdowne discussion of the impact of reaching non-traditional gifted populations with new diagnostic tools and multiple points of measurement. They addressed how many schools view giftedness in narrow terms — as reflected by their identification practices — and thus overlook a large number of gifted students. This is an important topic, as the presenters estimated that more than 840,000 gifted students are not being properly assessed and/or identified in traditional school models.
On Day 2, Dr. Sally Reis opened with a session entitled “Using Strength-Based Pedagogy to Engage and Challenge All Students.” Reis focused on developing talents in students, as well as the ways parents and educators can provide a broad range of enrichment and advanced learning opportunities based on interests. The use of enjoyable and challenging learning experiences constructed around students’ interests, learning styles, and product styles can engage and uplift education for all students, she sad.
On Day 3, Dr. Matt Zakreski, a psychologist specializing in working with gifted individuals, spoke about gifted students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Zakreski discussed a common issue of diagnostic labeling with gifted ASD students and how this can lead to confusion for schools and parents, who do not fully understand the students’ profile and needs.
On the final day, Dr. Jim Delisle spoke on raising gifted teenagers with compassion and understanding. Delisle provided numerous examples and solutions for dealing with the complexities of the gifted teenager. The event closed on Saturday evening with SENG’s own Dr. Michael Postma (the author of this piece) fielding general questions around the topic of giftedness.
Given the success of the event, SENG may be providing more online conference opportunities that allow parties from across the globe to participate. However, for those who enjoy the personal connections and camaraderie of the in-person conference, both the annual and local conferences are still in the works.