Tidbit # 17-Following Their Lead

July 13, 2023

What’s Next? 

In working with gifted learners, I have learned that one of the best things that we can do to support them is to follow their lead. If you are listening to them and following their lead, you will never be led astray. How does this look in the classroom? Obviously, we can not have twenty-something students running around doing whatever it is they, please. But what we can do is encourage our learners to identify where they want to go next in their learning. 

Gifted students oftentimes hate writing. There is too much pressure on the idea of creating a perfect final product. I get it, it’s intimidating. For a while, no matter what I tried to do, I could not get a few of my gifted learners to write. ANYTHING. I decided to take the advice from Richard Courtright in his interview on NCAGT’s Podcast, They’ll Be Fine. He said that you will never do the wrong thing if you follow the kiddos’ lead. Here is how I applied that to my writing class. 

I asked students what they were interested in. Some said poetry, others e-commerce, travel, video games, and the list goes on. I asked my students how they could turn that passion into some form of writing. We had specific days in our class schedule when everyone came to class to share their progress or their finished product, and days when they met with another student or me for feedback. The only rules were that they needed to work on something and they needed to be writing. 

Some projects were ditched. Some projects were put on pause until our passion for them was reignited. Some projects made it to the final stages of production. 

This writing unit ended up being some of my students’ favorite parts of the school year. Not only did they love the opportunity to be in charge of their own learning, but it allowed me as the teacher to sit back and let them take the lead. It is so much easier to help a student improve their writing when they are writing something after all. 

Next time a kiddo asks you what they are supposed to do, consider responding with, “What’s next?” 

Alexia Rose Lawrence

Lead Faculty @ Scholars Academy for the Gifted

Teaching Licensure in K-6 Elementary Education and Academically & Intellectually Gifted (AIG)

Board Member & Podcast Host of, They’ll Be Fine, NC Association for the Gifted & Talented