By: Linda Sahagan
I’ve had the unique opportunity this year and last year to teach a combined class of advanced learners. I refer to them by that title for lack of a better way to describe them. I started with these students last year when they were second and third graders. I was asked to teach them again this year as 3rd and 4th graders. Parents were given the option to keep their children in my class for a second year or move them to a new class. The majority of them chose to stay, so I’ve had most of the same students for a year and a half.
There were several factors that came into play when these students were chosen for my class. First, they were all given an end of year math assessment. Next, they were benchmarked in reading. Finally, their behavior, attendance, and ability to work independently was taken into consideration. The outcome was a class full of students who are avid readers that read well above their grade level. They are also mathematically minded kids, who excel in math, and catch on quickly when introduced to new concepts. They are well behaved, responsible, conscientious, competitive, self-motivated, and often perfectionistic. Precocious is the word I would use to sum up the average student in my class. Sounds like a dream class right? Don’t get me wrong it’s a fabulous class but it comes with its own unique challenges.
My students were used to being at the top of everything in their previous classes. They were used to being the ones who would finish first. They would be recognized often for their academic accomplishments and good behavior. Much of their identity and self-worth was dependent on their academic performance. Now they are in a classroom full of high achievers and there isn’t much that sets them apart. They now have more competition because everyone can read well and everyone is good at math. ...