Thursday, June 20, 2019

I Can Meet the Needs of Gifted Learners in my Classroom at All Times - Let's Be Honest and Bust that Myth

This week is Gifted Awareness Week and the theme is all about Mythbusting.
There are so many myths about giftedness, gifted learners and gifted education in general that it's sometimes hard to know where to start, so I'm going to start with a very personal post which is all about my journey in gifted education - and it may just surprise some people.


WHAT I BELIEVED

When I was training to be a teacher in the late 1990s, we received very little in the way of learning about any aspect of gifted education.  In fact, the common mantra seemed to be in line with the image below and we were taught to believe that we could meet all of our learners' varying needs in our own classrooms and learning environments.  Honestly, do a search of this message and it's everywhere - even on coffee mugs!  And it still persists today.  Did I also believe this?  Absolutely I did!


The word 'differentiation' became the catch-cry through which we could ensure that all learners' needs were met.  This is great and does work to a certain extent, as long as there has been extensive professional learning and development (PLD) around it.  How many of us can honestly say that we have received that?

I spent a lot of time learning about differentiation in my own time. My learners and I always planned our learning together - at the beginning using the old separate curriculum documents and later on when the revised New Zealand Curriculum  came out in 2007.  My learners were engaged, owned their learning and, according to the data and my observations, they were all progressing very well and thriving in the learning environment.  Something was still bugging me though about the learners I could see who were standing out for so many different and unique reasons.  Something wasn't gelling with me in my observations.

Yes, I was extending those students who stood out in a traditional academic way, but this was always enrichment at the same level - it wasn't acceleration which is still a bone of contention in education circles. (For more information on this, click here). I started to question whether this was actually extending them at all - or challenging them enough.  I also started to notice as a new teacher that there were students who amazed me with their thinking and their creativity who didn't really fit the mould of being academically talented - we didn't use the word gifted because, as in the photo above, this was not really something that existed according to the powers that be.  The belief that you always took all learners horizontally across the curriculum level, never to the next level, was so strongly entrenched that you didn't really question it - until you could see that learners were switching off.  And what of the learners who were not in the so-called academically talented group - how were they being extended and was it really all about how successful you were in what was valued the most?


WHAT CHANGED?

Habits of Mind was always a foundation of learning in my classrooms from Day 1 and I started to question what I was doing the more we engaged with the concepts in this philosophy.  The more discussions we had, the more certain learners outside the traditional realm of what was judged to be talented, stood out.  I needed to make sure that I was meeting their needs.  I continued to question my practice and my beliefs around the word and concept of 'gifted'.

In the early 2000s I was fortunate enough to teach in an intermediate school that had a withdrawal programme for learners identified as gifted. This was really the start of me questioning my practice - why did we need a withdrawal programme when my classroom environment should be enough? What was I not able to do in the classroom?  The more I experienced what was happening in this programme and the more open I was to learning, and the more I could see how much this programme meant to the learners involved, how it was changing their attitude to school and learning.  The most important knowledge - I could see how powerful this programme was, how powerful and important it was for learners to be able to connect with like minds.  You can read about this in the Aotearoa New Zealand context here. I began to learn from the learners about what worked for them. I also learned so much from the teachers who were leading the programme. My practice and thinking started to change dramatically and I wanted to know and learn more.

In the mid-2000s I was lucky enough to attend a session on gifted education with one of the authors of the paper in the previous link.  This was run by the now New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education.  While I had started to read and learn about gifted education, I still had the residual of the mindset that "I'm a qualified teacher and I should be able to meet all learners' needs in my classroom." These sessions opened my eyes even further and raised my awareness to the point where there was no way I wasn't going to start questioning what we were doing to meet the needs of our gifted learners - and gifted learners absolutely do exist and they are often not your academic stand-outs. If you want to read more on this, check out "Gifted Children Do Exist - Here's What Happens When We Deny It."


From: Not So Formulaic


It was also about this time that the concept of Student Voice was gaining traction.  I had always planned with my learners but how much voice did they actually have and were they just being compliant or were they really engaged and owning their learning?  There were so many questions I had around this, especially as I began to question my beliefs around giftedness.
I read Clarity in the Classroom and this was a real turning point, particularly in using the power of student voice to change my practice.

So What?

Being honest and reflective in our practice and acknowledging that we can't meet all of our learners' individual needs in our learning environments without adaptation and flexibility is not a sign of weakness or failure as a teacher - it's a sign of strength and reflection and it shows strong advocacy for our learners, particularly as we find the best way to meet their needs. It shows that we understand their individual needs and will do whatever it takes to meet those needs.  It is always, always about our learners.



WHAT NEXT?

  • Challenge your thinking around giftedness and gifted education - it's a matter of equity for our learners. Gifted learners matter as much as those who have learning difficulties - in fact some of our gifted learners can be found in these groups - they are our twice- or multi-exceptional learners.
  • Join in discussions and join groups focused on gifted education and be open to ideas and conversations.  You could join Gifted and Talented Teachers (NZ) which is the group I started.
       
  • Be aware of the research and other publications out there. Giftedness is backed by evidence. It is not elitist or the domain of 'pushy parents.'

  • Have a look at some of the ways you can celebrate your gifted students - not just this week but throughout the year.  Some ideas can be found here, and here.




  • Understand what true differentiation looks like and how it can be used to meet learners' needs.



Above all... be open to the ideas and evidence that gifted learners exist and it's a matter of equity that their needs are met. Don't be afraid to be a Lone Nut or First Follower...












Saturday, March 9, 2019

Should Our Students Participate in the Climate Change Protests...and Should we Support Them?

Over the last while you will have seen the news articles in the print media, seen reports on the news and in social media about the upcoming Global Protest Against Climate Change on March 15, 2019.

Article from Stuff 09/03/19


You will have heard the arguments for and against.  So should our young people be protesting and should we support them in this protest against climate change - a global movement?

The short answer is yes, they absolutely should and we should absolutely support them.


We keep saying that our students don't care, don't have empathy, aren't interested in current events and issues and yet, the minute that they do show an interest or a passion for change, we want to shut them down and we belittle their efforts with comments in the vein of the students just wanting time off school.  So some are saying to mark them as truant. This is just plain wrong and smacks of someone throwing a tantrum.  Why not mark it as an unjustified absence? Why choose truant?  Or could we perhaps do the right thing, in my opinion, and mark them as a justified absence?

Are we really listening to - and understanding - what they're saying - and do we really believe that this is just about a day off?  Yes, that may be the case for some but we're really doing our young people a huge disservice if we continue to minimise their beliefs and opinions. To be honest, it's insulting to our younger generation.

The New Zealand Curriculum (2007)


The New Zealand Curriculum is held up to be a world-leading document. Perhaps it's time for some of our educators to carefully revisit its content and intent. It is full of examples of requiring our learners to be "...lifelong learners who are confident and creative, connected, and actively involved" (NZC, 2007, p.4).  This statement, by the then Secretary for Education, Karen Sewell, appears in the Foreword of the document and underpins everything else.  This is the "...starting point..." (ibid).

The Values, Vision, Principles and Key Competencies sections all go on to discuss participation and contribution as essential aspects of learning and teaching programmes (see for example pp.7-10).
According to our document from which all learning and teaching is derived, our goals are to help our learners become individuals who can contribute locally and globally and stand up for what they believe in. We want them to connect to their wider communities - again both local and global.  We want and need them to be critical, creative thinkers who problem solve and problem create - that's how change happens.  Isn't the current local and global protest the perfect opportunity to connect our learners to the real world context - to apply learning and teaching in a meaningful and connected way.  It's making learning real and flattening the classroom walls.  In 2012 I blogged about this in a post It's About Authentic Learning - Dancing with Change.  My thoughts have not changed on this. Students will lead the way and are encouraged to do so in the NZC - if we facilitate this for them - and trust them.


At every level of the Social Sciences section of the NZC, the Achievement Objectives include those designed to encourage this independence - with our support and guidance - the goal is to help them become confident and connected individuals who can think locally and act globally. Again, the current protest is the perfect opportunity for this. What better way to connect the current situation and learning to the events of the past, to economic and social issues, to place and environment. If we fail to support them in this, we are missing a valuable learning and teaching opportunity and, even more importantly, our students are also missing out on this valuable opportunity.

This is agentic learning at its best - it's what we as teachers strive for in our students. They're taking responsibility for their learning and applying it in an authentic context.



We say that they're too young to make a difference, that what they're doing will not change anything but then we turn around and want to stop them from even trying.  History is full of people who were told that they couldn't make a difference because they were too young.  We only have to think back to the protests of the 1960s and 1970s against the Vietnam War and to protest Treaty of Waitangi issues, and what about the 1981 Springbok Tour?  As a very young student I attended some of these marches and was proud to do so. Was it because I wanted time off school or to follow the crowd - no, it was because I strongly believed that this was the right thing to do and I wanted to be part of a collective voice. Why should it be any different for today's young people.  For so many, this is also about having their voices heard - locally and globally, also one of the goals of the New Zealand Curriculum (see for example pages 8, 12, 13, 30, 39).


The upcoming protest on March 15 is a global one.  Instead of shutting down our students who want to have a voice in this issue, should we not be supporting the fact that they want to take action so that there is a brighter future for our planet.  Have they struck a nerve with some of us...because we know we should have done more...should have done what they are doing now?  It's time for the adults to support them - not shut them down.


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

A Celebration...and a Caution



Last week saw the exciting announcement from the government around increased recognition and funding for gifted education.  Dr Tracy Riley of Massey University has blogged about the latest developments and provided a succinct background of the history of provision for our gifted learners over the past 20+ years in her blog - Gifted Learners: The Heart of the Matter.  This is recommended reading and focuses on what is needed in order for provisions to be successful - and equitable for our learners. As in the title, the learners are the focus of Dr Riley's post.

To give another side or perspective to the recent announcements, this post will focus on what is needed in order for educators to meet the needs of this unique group of students.





PROFESSIONAL LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT

What do Teachers Really Need?



What's on Offer so Far?

Te Kete Īpurangi (TKI) - This is continuing to be updated and provides a wealth of professional learning and development resources for schools and other professionals.  It's exciting to see the changes on the site and I would absolutely recommend this as one of your resources to add to your tool box or kete.

Awards for Gifted Learners - this new initiative will provide opportunities for gifted learners to undertake special and unique learning opportunities either on their own or as part of a group.

Increased funding for One-day Schools (MindPlus through the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education, NZCGE) - these exciting learning environments provide a tried and trusted experience for learners to be challenged in their learning.  They provide a crucial environment where like-minds can connect. This is a key aspect of provision for the social and emotional development of our gifted learners.  There is also a wealth of resources available for Professional Learning and Development (PLD) from this organisation.

Other PLD is able to be accessed through the Network of Expertise - Gifted Aotearoa, a collaboration between some of the main organisations involved in gifted education in this country (REACH Education, NZCGE, NZAGC).  These organisations, along with giftEDnz are access points to invaluable PLD.  They are currently offering a range of initiatives but how do we as professionals take responsibility to sustain this learning once we've finished a course, qualification or programme? 

The key idea here is taking responsibility for our own learning - just as we expect our younger learners to do.  These PLD provisions will only be as effective as possible if there is sustainability built into what is offered but it is unfair to leave it solely to the organisations involved.  This is where communities of practice, particularly blended CoPs that offer asynchronous learning (any time, any where learning) and learning that is owned by its members, really come into their own.




Sustainability of Programmes and Supporting the PLD

Communities of Practice

What is a blended community of practice and how does it differ from a community of learning?  I've blogged about this many times over the years, see here and others listed below, for example.  My Masters' research was in this area, so it's a bit of a passion due to the fact that it is owned and created by the members in the community. It is not a top-down model. It is a learning environment that matches what we know to be the most effective for our students. This also applies to our teachers' learning.  Teacher agency is at its heart; it is ongoing and constantly changing to meet the needs of the learners.  It's an environment where everyone learns from and with each other - no hierarchy - everyone has expertise.

Additional posts on CoPs
Communities of Practice - this outlines the basic premise of a CoP and what it needs in order for it to be successful, particularly in relation to blended CoPs which have an online and face-to-face component and have proven to be the most effective in changing practice.



CoPs were developed by Etienne Wenger - this video is from one of his presentations. An 'extra' if you are keen to learn more.

Why the Caution in this Post?

Although it's exciting that we have a government that acknowledges that our gifted learners have unique social, emotional and learning needs and is prepared to put its money where its mouth is, we need to also do our part in ensuring that there is much open and honest discussion around this area of education.

We can't continue to sit back and adhere to that old chestnut that "Every child is gifted, they just unwrap their gifts at different times" or we will be failing to provide a learning environment for a group of learners with research-based unique needs.  This is a matter of equity.  Yes, all students have gifts, but not all students are gifted.  We need to stop ignoring the wealth of research that backs this up.

The recent announcement of increased funding and recognition is a powerful step in the right direction but it absolutely must be backed up by professional learning and development at all stages of teacher education - from pre-service to inservice... and it must have sustainability built into it or it will just be another PLD provision that has a start and end point before we move on to the next area.  This is not an easy ask and this is why it is so crucial to get it right this time.  

Gifted learners have unique social, emotional, academic and cultural needs and the area of gifted identification is very broad.  There is no quick fix after many years of  piecemeal approaches to gifted education and PLD in gifted education.  The government has stated that there are more announcements to come, and hopefully sustainable PLD will be a part of those announcements.  We've got some fantastic organisations willing to provide the PLD, it's how we sustain and support those learning opportunities that will be key to changing practice for our learners and teachers. 




Sunday, October 28, 2018

Refocusing Learning and Teaching

(Apologies in advance for the strange variations in font - Blogger kept crashing and not matter how many times it's edited, the strange variations remain).

Day 23 of the giftEDnz blog challenge is all about shifting our focus...are we too focused on assessment? Have we narrowed the curriculum too much?




Over the past 8 years since the introduction of National Standards, we have faced an ever-narrowing curriculum and learning and teaching focus. The pressure on teachers to show that their students are achieving has been enormous and there is little evidence that this intense focus made any impact on achievement levels. Anecdotally, we had many students who were not engaged or motivated in their learning. Some schools worked well with the standards and worked incredibly hard not to narrow the curriculum, others had an enormous focus on standards without connection to real learning.



Refocusing on the New Zealand Curriculum - Effective Pedagogy

Teacher Actions Promoting Student Learning - Effective Pedagogy

These are all things dear to teachers' hearts. There is one area on this list which I think warrants further open and honest discussion and it is that of teachers needing to 'inquire into the teaching and learning relationship.' I'm going to reflect on this in another post but I'm wondering if we've gone too far with the incredibly in-depth inquiries we are expecting of our teachers? Some of these inquiries are so in-depth that they are almost mini theses. If we're going to refocus on learning and teaching, we also need to address what is happening in this area as well.

Of course we need to reflect on our practice - that's one of the most powerful aspects of what we do to make sure that our learners are progressing, but does it need to be done in the depth of detail that is currently occurring alongside the evidence that must be recorded for Practising Teacher Criteria.  We know that reflective practice is what leads to changes in practice but we need to be realistic to ensure that the focus is not on too much on this and shifts our focus from the students. Of course, it’s absolutely necessary and they all work in together to help us meet the needs of our students but, like anything, we need to make sure that there is a balance.





The Key Competencies, Vision and Principles

The Key Competencies were intended to be the driver of the curriculum with the learning areas providing contexts that would link to real-world learning connections. Too often they have become a checklist to be ticked off with little depth and connection. The NZC has often become the place where we go to get the appropriate Achievement Objectives. If we can go back to the original intent of the NZC and understand how the Vision, Principles and Values form the overarching structure with the Key Competencies and Learning Areas underpinning these, then we have the start of a winning formula to increase motivation and engagement in learning for our students and a chance to really improve the learning environment for all, including our teachers who will be able to again focus on what they signed up for. Perhaps we could have fewer behaviour issues as well. A simplification of all of the complex problems we face, I know, but it's a starting point.

We have the chance to take a broader view of learning and teaching but there is much-needed professional learning and development around the NZC and its original intent. Yes, we still need assessment - that guides our 'where to next' and ensures that we're meeting the needs of our students. However, it needs to have a purpose and to not always be focused on a test. There are so many different ways to assess how our students are achieving and their voices needs to be at the centre of this. By refocusing on the NZC we have a chance to put creativity and passion back into learning and teaching."These principles put students at the centre of teaching and learning, asserting that they should experience a curriculum that engages and challenges them, is forward-looking and inclusive, and affirms New Zealand's unique identity." New Zealand Curriculum (2007, p. 11).

Image Source: Roman Nowak - @NowakRo on Twitter








Sunday, October 21, 2018

Changing Thinking to Create Equity - Are We Up to the Challenge?

Today's post - Day 21 of the giftEDnz October Blog Challenge - is all about equity and is inspired by the article below and the accompanying visual image which was also the subject of a Twitter Chat discussion.

The problem with that equity vs. equality graphic you're using

Many of us have seen this graphic above (circulating for about two years) and we've often used it in education when we're advocating for the needs of our students, in this case, our gifted students.  But it's an incorrect expression of what should be happening for students who are in a minority group.

There is a distinction between equity and equality and it's a very important one if we are to meet the needs of ALL of our students.

So what is the difference? Don't they both achieve the same outcome?  No, they don't.  The article explains it very well and I've summarised it below.

Graphic 1 - Equality
Everyone has access to the same number of crates and is using them to attempt to see over the fence. The only one benefiting from the crates is the middle student. He can now see.  The first student is tall enough that he doesn't need the support and the crate for the third student doesn't work or change their situation.

Graphic 2 - Equity
In the second graphic the students all have what they need in order to be able to participate.

So how does this relate to gifted education? What does it mean?


In Aotearoa New Zealand, all of our students are fortunate enough to be able to access education and there are systems in place to make sure that they can participate.  However, not all systems meet all individual needs and there are adaptations that need to be made and learning that needs to happen in order for it to be a truly equitable system. Gifted education is just one part of it.  There are many others which will be discussed in a later post.


What if we made a third change - and removed the fence (barrier) altogether?


We need to stop talking about the 'achievement gap' and reframe it as an 'opportunity gap'.  Seeing it as an achievement gap is deficit thinking, in my view, which is also a central view in this article.  This type of thinking implies that it is the abilities of the students that are causing them to not achieve when it is a far bigger issue of opportunity.  If we don't offer the same range of opportunities, then this is where issues of equity will always arise.  This ('achievement gap') is a distraction that stops us from acknowledging and focusing on real issues.

"As many have argued, it should actually be termed the “opportunity gap” because the problem is not in the abilities of students, but in the disparate opportunities they are afforded."


The suggestion in the article is that we look at and identify the real issue or problem/barrier and work to address this. So what is the real issue or barrier in addressing the needs of gifted and talented learners in Aotearoa New Zealand?  My thinking so far is that it centres around the following areas:

  • a lack of professional learning and development at all levels of teacher education from pre-service to in-service which leads to
  •  a lack of understanding and acknowledgement that gifted and talented learners exist
  • knowing how to identify gifted and talented learners - knowing what to look for
  • knowing how to effectively differentiate learning and teaching programmes
  • understanding that there are many categories of giftedness and that we need to be particularly aware of cultural differences and twice-exceptional learners
  • teacher expectations and beliefs - and deficit thinking - which goes back to the first point of the need for effective, and sustained, professional learning and development that leads to changes in practice.  One-off courses will not do this unless they have sustainability built into them.

The final graphic in the article is the one below - where strategies aren't put in place to create equitable situations which may not be sustained.  It is the complete removal of the barriers.  I know that some of the points above could lead to these barriers being removed for ALL our gifted students.  Are we up to the challenge? I believe teachers always have the best interests of their students at the heart of what they do and they are always up to the challenge of learning more.  But they can't do it alone. It's time for the government to see this as a priority and help us remove the barriers for this group of students.












Are We Challenging Our Gifted Learners?

Day 19 of the giftEDnz October Blog Challenge focuses on ways to challenge our gifted learners.

6 Strategies for Challenging Gifted Learners

This article discusses many of the same issues we face in Aotearoa New Zealand - how to identify gifted students, which programmes, which definition...the list is pretty much as long as you want to make it.  What it basically boils down to for me, however, is teacher awareness and understanding along with knowledge of the possibilities of giftedness.  I think if we can start from this place of awareness then we are much more open to being able to recognise giftedness in its many forms.  If we are coming from a place of assumptions and judgement of what a 'typical' gifted learner 'looks like' then I think that's the point where we are running into trouble and there is huge potential for gifted students to not be identified and have their specific needs met.

The article covers six strategies for challenging our gifted students. These are listed below.  I've chosen to reflect on each one and what it might look like in our learning environments based on my previous experiences.

1. Offer the most difficult first
 This is about compacting the curriculum for our gifted students.  If a student is able to demonstrate understanding in maths when they've completed a set of problems accurately why would we make them do more 'practice' worksheets - or any worksheets?  At this point, they need extension learning activities that link to real-world contexts so that they can apply the knowledge and understanding that they already have.  We also have to be incredibly wary of using them to support other learners all the time.  Some support and help is great and builds tuakana-teina but if this is happening too often then there is no further learning and development for the gifted student and this is also one way that these students can become bored and turned off learning.

2. Pre-test for volunteers
This is really interesting.  If you have an area that needs to be covered and that will have a post-test or assessment at the end, then offer this to volunteers at the start.  If they complete it without any difficulty then they already know what they need to learn in that unit so why would we make them complete it?  Differentiation is about providing DIFFERENT learning opportunities, not more of the same.  Our gifted students can still be learning in the same curriculum area but at a different level of complexity or with a different focus.

3. Prepare to take it up
This is similar to number two but it focuses on options.  Always have options available for those who need them and make sure that some of the options are at a higher level of difficulty or complexity and have a wider range of contexts rather than a narrow focus.  Also, allow for choice and for the students to be able to develop their own learning paths.  I've always expected this to happen and it works really well with the teacher guidance and support when and where needed.

4. Speak to student interests
Student interest is everything in learning and teaching. We still need to expose students to other possibilities and options they may not have thought of - or may not have thought they'd be interested in - but also encourage their own passions and interests.  There is always a way that this can be done even if you are in a learning environment where the curriculum planning is quite prescriptive.  There are always ways that you can get around this and meet the needs of the students while still following the requirements and expectations of our schools.  Ask the students - they will always come up with amazing ideas in this respect!

5. Enable gifted students to work together
This is so important.  It's the concept of like-minds and gives our gifted students a chance to connect with students who are on the same 'wavelength' as they are.  This is particularly important for their social and emotional development. Ideally, schools will have cluster-grouped students so that they have like-minds whom they can bounce ideas off and collaborate with.  There is much research to support the importance of this.  This doesn't mean that multi-level grouping is not also important for gifted students.  They can have a powerful effect on helping raise the achievement levels of all students and being able to challenge thinking. Multi-level grouping also helps gifted students become confident in learning with other students with different abilities. Like most things in education, it's all about balance and meeting individual learning, social and emotional needs.

6. Plan for tiered learning
A lot of this one is all about teacher expectations.  When planning, it's suggested that we plan for more complex learning and understanding and then differentiate and teach from that point.  By doing this we are keeping our expectations high and showing our students that we have high expectations for them and their learning. This can be incredibly powerful and you will often find that students you may not have expected to have a high level of understanding in a particular area actually do.  It is also in these situations that you can often identify possibly gifted students whereas if your expectations and planning were aimed at a lower level, you may have missed identifying a particular student.

The final part of this article contains a chart for teaching and learning with gifted learners and it's a valuable one so I decided to share it here.

What do you do in your teaching and learning programmes that challenge your gifted learners?  What would you add to this?  What do you think you could do differently?

Dos and Don'ts of Teaching Gifted Students






Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Don't Miss the Ability Because You Only See the Disability

Day 17 of the giftEDnz Blog Challenge!

Why So Many Gifted Yet Struggling Students Are Hidden in Plain Sight


This prompt, which is all about how our gifted students can be hidden in plain sight made me wonder about the times over the years when I've encountered these students.  As a teacher, you're always observing and reflecting on your practice.  You start to become attuned to individual behaviours and characteristics of your students.  You know - or you suspect - when a child is possibly gifted or operating at a different level to their peers.  I use the term 'operating' as 'achieving' has connotations of always being about an assessment and can really limit the possibilities of diverse giftedness in our students. It can also then limit your own thinking and narrow your focus which we can't do if we want to meet the needs of these students.

The difficulties arise when you have a student who you know without question is possibly gifted but they also have a learning disability.  The parents have talked to you about their special talents, you also recognise and celebrate these but then you come up against the bureaucracy or other teachers who perhaps only see the disability rather than the ability.  This is deficit thinking and it's not helpful for the students, their families or the teacher who believes in them and knows without question that they are gifted.  In fact, this type of thinking can be dangerous as it limits the possibilities of what we can offer a student in their learning and also of what they can achieve.  We also run the risk that these students become our disengaged students who may exhibit behaviour problems and also risk being our underachievers.

We have to challenge our understandings and sometimes also our beliefs. So many of our gifted students will remain hidden unless we do so.  That becomes a question of ethics for me. We have to expand our thinking about who gifted students are. There are many underrepresented groups in this country along with the twice-exceptional.  Our Māori and Pasifika students, students from lower socioeconomic groups, underachievers and those who don't have English as their first language. Until we acknowledge this and push back against the assumptions, then many will remain hidden. They often become statistics in mental health and in our justice system. I've often wondered how many of the inmates in our prisons are gifted.  I think we have an ever-widening gap in excellence or giftedness in this country.