How many times have parents and teachers said these words to a child who is underachieving?
“You’re just not trying hard enough. You’re lazy!”
No student wants to fail. It is imperative that we embrace this statement as fact and use it as an underlying assumption when we are tackling a student’s underachievement issues.
A student who demonstrates a very high vocabulary and speaks with incredible insight but consistently loses homework or fails the math fact timed-test may appear to be unmotivated. A child who has an intense intellectual curiosity yet refuses to get on the school bus may seem defiant.
However, these students may have learning disabilities that are masked by their giftedness. The asynchronous development that occurs in twice-exceptional (2e) students can lead to misunderstandings, frustration, and disengagement in both the 2e learners as well as the adults that are tasked with educating them.
It is important to understand that gifted students with learning differences may be doing the best that they can to compensate for their disabilities. Their challenges may not have been identified until much later in their educational journey than those of other students with similar learning struggles.
Many school programs tend to focus on remediating learning challenges rather than developing talents. For gifted students in special education programs this causes a lack of opportunities for acceleration or higher-level engagement in their areas of strength. When students spend the majority of their school day struggling with lagging skills and little to no time developing interests, they may become disheartened and discouraged.
Once these students are identified, what can teachers do to help them...
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