Being Melanie Hayes

Dr. Melanie Hayes has dedicated her life’s work to advocating for and supporting 2e individuals. After getting her Doctorate in Educational Leadership, a Masters in Gifted Education, and a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, she created Big Minds, an “unschool” for twice-exceptional students in the Bay Area of California. Additionally, she has written two books, We Tried Normal: 2e Family Stories and Being Twice Exceptional. Dr. Hayes has been recognized by SENG as Educator of the Year in 2019. In this interview, Dr Hayes also shares what she finds exciting in the world of 2e education right now.

You started your career as a classroom teacher, but at what point did you start thinking about your students as being twice exceptional?

Well, it’s interesting, when I started, there was still a belief that you couldn’t be gifted and learning disabled. After my second year as a regular classroom teacher, parents started to recognize which teachers work well with the quirky kids. So, word got around, and I ended up with half my class being kids who had some pretty significant behavioral issues. At first, I just followed my gut with these kids. We did a lot of individualized work. I was teaching fifth grade at the time, studying US history, and I allowed the kids to do whatever they wanted to do to show their knowledge. I got the richest, most amazing projects that you could ever imagine. A group of kids wrote this fantastic play that was put on at the end of the year for the whole school. We had art projects, novels, graphic novels, art pieces. It was fantastic. At the end, we took a regular unit test that would show how much knowledge they had acquired, and they shone on the test. They had better knowledge than their p...


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