April 17, 2021: GT Parent Conference at Baylor U

Baylor’s Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development will host its 2nd annual parent conference on April 17, 2021 (new date!).

This is an event designed to provide parents of gifted and talented students with resources, information, and opportunities to network with other parents and find needed support.


Through April 17, 2021: GEFN Cardboard Challenge – FREE! Sponsored by NuMinds Enrichment

Do you have or know a student who loves problem-solving and creative thinking? Do you know a “maker” in search of a unique challenge? Register your student(s) for a free, virtual, asynchronous challenge culminating in a live showcase event for students on Saturday, April 17, during the annual GT Parent Conference!

Interview with Dr. Anne Rinn

Social, Emotional, and Psychosocial Development of Gifted and Talented Individuals

Dr. Anne Rinn is a Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of North Texas, where she also serves as Director of the Office for Giftedness, Talent Development, and Creativity. She has authored more than 50 publications related to the social and emotional development of gifted individuals and the psychosocial skills necessary for the development of talent. She is currently coeditor of the Journal of Advanced Academics, holds leadership positions in the National Association for Gifted Children and the American Educational Research Association, and she serves as a professional advisor to the Gifted Education Family Network. Her latest book, Social, Emotional, and Psychosocial Development of Gifted and Talented Individuals (2020), is an essential addition to professional learning libraries for K-12 educators and for professionals who work with children. We are thrilled to share our discussion with Dr. Rinn about this topic.

Q: Please tell us a little bit about the book. What do you cover and who is the intended audience?

In this book, I explored what is known about social and emotional development with a particular emphasis on how it relates to gifted and talented individuals, using existing theory and research as a basis. The book then moves into an examination of specific psychosocial skills that contribute to the development of talent. Topics include developmental theory, personality, perfectionism, sensitivity and intensity, self-beliefs, motivation, and counseling, among others. By providing both a background on the social and emotional development of gifted individuals and a discussion of specific psychosocial skills that are necessary for talent development, this book provides a thorough look at all components of affective development and growth from a variety of lenses. As such, the book is intended for both researchers and practitioners, as well as parents of gifted children.

Q: Your book opens with an exploration of the cognitive differences of gifted children. Can you share why it is important for educators and professionals concerned with social and emotional development and wellness to also learn about and understand these cognitive differences? 

Most theories in the field of psychology about cognitive, social, and emotional development are based on typically developing populations. And, most developmental milestones and trajectories happen similarly among typically developing individuals. However, intellectually gifted children can experience accelerated cognitive development. Gifted children experience the same developmental milestones and trajectories as typically developing individuals, but there are no theories to explain if or how advanced or accelerated cognitive or intellectual ability affects social and emotional development. Cognitive development is a precursor to social and emotional development, and most components of development happen along a similar age-based trajectory. We do not have any evidence to suggest social and emotional development is accelerated like cognitive development in intellectually gifted children, but questions remain about if and how an accelerated cognitive developmental trajectory can impact the social and emotional developmental trajectory among intellectually gifted children. Many call this “asynchronous development” in the field of gifted education.

It is vital that practitioners and parents have an understanding of cognitive, social, and emotional development and how development might (or might not) look different for intellectually gifted children. A lack of understanding or awareness could lead to inadequate or inappropriate educational opportunities for gifted children, decreased social and emotional well-being among gifted children, and, in some cases, misdiagnosis of gifted children.

Q: The discussion of ethnic-racial identity among high-ability individuals seems especially important for everyone concerned about diversity in GT programs. Why should educators learn about intersectionality and respond to the challenges faced by gifted learners from diverse backgrounds? 

Simply put, intersectionality is an approach to the way we measure and understand multiple categories of identity, difference, and inequality (e.g., gender, race, disability). For example, suppose I wanted to examine the social experiences of boys and girls in middle school. It would be far more illustrative to examine multiple categories rather than just focus on one. So, instead of just boys versus girls, I would look at, for example, the experiences of boys with a disability, boys without a disability, girls with a disability, and girls without a disability. I could take that further and add in race or socioeconomic status… boys with a disability who are from high socioeconomic status backgrounds, boys with a disability who are from low socioeconomic status backgrounds, etc. The point is that the more we consider about a person and try to understand their “multiple categories”, the better we will be able to meet their needs.

Q: I would love to talk about the section on the Big-Fish-Little-Pond effect. It seems so important for both parents and educators to understand the points you cited, including the positive outcomes of ability grouping and the longitudinal effect of placing gifted students in specific classrooms or programs.  We know that schools sometimes resist ability grouping, and that some schools even intentionally spread gifted students across different classrooms rather than follow requirements and recommendations to group them together. Could you elaborate on the importance of ability grouping? What are the social and emotional implications of ability grouping?

The Big-Fish-Little-Pond effect describes a phenomenon by which students experience a slight decrease in self-concept upon moving into a class or program consisting of equally or more able students. For some students, transitioning from being the top student in their class or program to one of many top students can bring on a feeling of doubt about one’s abilities. However, the Big-Fish-Little-Pond effect does not occur for all students and if it does, it is typically short-lived. And, the benefits of a “big pond” far outweigh any brief feelings of doubt, which can also be worked through with a parent, teacher, or mentor.

Most research indicates that ability grouping fosters positive intellectual, academic, social, and emotional outcomes for gifted and talented students. For example, gifted adolescents often gain access to like-minded peers through advanced course enrollment (e.g., honors, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate), thus fostering both their intellectual and social/emotional development. Research has shown that highly able adolescents taking advanced coursework have larger networks of friends and more engaged friends than equally able adolescents who are not enrolled in advanced coursework. Advanced course enrollment is just one example; students talented in music, visual and performing arts, and leadership, for example, can experience similar positive social and emotional outcomes in groups of like-minded peers in organizations like band, choir, theater, and JROTC.

Q: While GT parents and educators understand the importance of robust GT programs and services, particularly for special populations, not all school administrators understand that need. When considering the psychosocial interventions and cognitive differences explored in your book, what advice would you give to parents or parent groups who wish to ensure that their districts understand the importance of maintaining strong GT staffing and services?

There are a number of valuable resources and organizations available for parents and parent groups looking to advocate for gifted students and gifted services. The Gifted Education Family Network, of course, is a fantastic place to start (https://giftededucationfamilynetwork.org/). Here you will meet like-minded parents and find a wealth of resources. Similarly, the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented (https://www.txgifted.org/) and the National Association for Gifted Children (http://www.nagc.org/) have parent strands and plenty of resources on advocacy (e.g., see Advocate for Gifted Children, http://www.nagc.org/get-involved/advocate-gifted-children).

GT parent groups serve so many purposes and I recommend emphasizing teacher training as one purpose of a GT parent group. I’ve seen GT parent groups send teachers to conferences and training opportunities (e.g., funding teachers to attend training for their six-hour updates on gifted education*), purchase relevant books for GT teachers and coordinators, and hold mini-conferences for parents and teachers to attend together, for example. GT parent groups can affect change, for sure.

The Gifted Education Family Network enthusiastically recommends Dr. Rinn’s book for use by educators, parents, and professionals who work with the gifted. The book may be purchased on Amazon or the Prufrock Press website, or parents may be able to borrow the book through a local library or interlibrary loan.  

* Note from GEFN:  Texas GT parent groups wishing to sponsor GT professional development scholarships for educators may wish to consider teacher training opportunities offered by the Baylor Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, by the Office for Giftedness, Talent Development, and Creativity at the University of North Texas, and other low-cost options.

Emily Villamar-Robbins, J.D. holds a Graduate Academic Certificate in Gifted and Talented Education and has served in multiple volunteer roles for gifted education at the local and state level.  She serves as a member of the Texas Education Commissioner’s Advisory Council on the Education of Gifted Students.

Worldwide facilitated SENG Model Parent Group for 2E Parents

Facilitated by:
Lin Lim, Ph.D.,
Susan Chun, M.A., P.P.S.,
Cherin Escher, M.A.

Meet the Facilitators

With up to 20 parents participating, the weekly virtual meeting will focus on topics from the book A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children, such as communication, motivation, discipline, stress management, and relationships.

In addition, 2e specific additional resources will be provided weekly. 

Register now! The first series begins on February 3 at 8PM Central time!

The participation fee will be donated to the Gifted Education Family Network. Dr. Lim is a founding GEFN board member, and also a SENG board member who co-chairs the SENG Model Parent Group committee. No family will be turned away due to financial reasons. Payment will be adjusted to what works for your family.

January-March 2021: Eight-week Virtual SENG Model Parent Group – hosted by McKinney Gifted & Talented Alliance

GT Families across Texas are invited to participate in a virtual SENG model parent group hosted by McKinney Gifted & Talented Alliance. Their first meeting is January 12th. The format is a guided discussion for caregivers of the gifted.

Click here to register. Details are in the flyer below. Thank you to Letha Williams, SENG Model Parent Group McKinney, Facilitator; and president of McKinney Gifted & Talented Alliance, for sharing this opportunity with our network of GT families across Texas!

past / Dec. 16, 2020: Virtual Event – “What Does Giftedness Look Like?” – Dr. Kristina Henry Collins

How can parents go about supporting the social and emotional needs of their gifted children? Our speaker, Dr. Kristina Henry Collins, is a NAGC Board Member, President of SENG, faculty at Texas State University, and a Professional Advisor for the Gifted Education Family NetworkReserve your spot today for this free virtual event on Wednesday, December 16, 7:30pm – 8:45pm.

Space is limited!  RSVP required. This presentation serves as an informational overview and exemplar for a PARENT ORIENTATION to giftedness and gifted programming through the use of book study/round-table discussions. Share the graphic above, and invite your Texas GT parent friends!

Coming in December, for our Texas families: GEFN virtual event presented by expert Dr. Kristina Henry Collins!

Wednesday, December 16, at 7: Does “Giftedness” Look Like… and how can parents go about supporting the social and emotional needs of their gifted children?”

You’ve received a letter notifying you that your child is eligible for your school’s gifted program. Of course, you’re thrilled! You recognize your child’s unique talents, and you are glad the school will provide an environment that fosters those talents. So, what’s next? How do you support your child at home? Will there be an orientation that you can attend?

These are just a few of the questions you may have. In addition, the academic and talent development that your child will receive at school should also be complemented by social and emotional support. The letter you received likely doesn’t cover that, but there are many books that can help provide the information you need to support your child at home.

This presentation serves as an informational overview and exemplar for a PARENT ORIENTATION to giftedness and gifted programming through the use of book study/round-table discussions.

Through a series of frequently asked questions, the presenter will address the overarching question: What does ‘giftedness’ look like? And how can parents go about supporting the social and emotional needs of their gifted children? Additional resources provided.”*

Space is limited. To receive an opportunity to register, connect with GEFN! Subscribing is free and includes the benefits of GT parent networking, support, news, resources, and more. https://giftededucationfamilynetwork.org/subscribe/

Thank you to Dr. Collins for helping GT families to support the social and emotional needs of their students!

past / Nov. 18, 2020: Advocating for Marginalized Gifted Students of Color ~ Dr. Kristina Henry Collins

Free event from the Mirman School: Advocating for Marginalized Gifted Students of Color with Dr. Kristina Henry Collins, Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 6:00pm!

Details and registration below:

“Due to social and historical inequities, bright Black and Latinx students are often not identified as gifted. Even those who are, often don’t have access to the rigor and support they need.”Join us for an evening with Dr. Kristina Henry Collins focused on advocating for marginalized gifted students of color. The goal of this event is to provide information that will help parents, guardians, and teachers advocate for unidentified, misidentified, and underserved gifted students of color and connect them with the resources they need to thrive.”Dr. Collins serves on the board of directors of the National Association of Gifted Children and is the president of Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG). As a professor at Texas State University, her research focuses on the social, emotional, and cultural contexts of gifted and talent development.”

Registration link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_kcBNQFwjRa2gpCmu_rtW5Q

Thank you to Dr. Collins for sharing this event with GEFN!

New! Discussing Racism with Gifted Children – shared from NAGC

For help discussing racism and bias with gifted children, please see “Discussing Racism with Gifted Children” from the September issue of Parenting for High Potential, a publication of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC).  Article linked below and shared with permission from NAGC.  Many thanks to NAGC and the authors for making this important resource available to families.

Interview with Dr. Joy Lawson Davis

Co-Editor of Gifted Children of Color Around the World

Educators worldwide know Dr. Joy Lawson Davis as a global expert in gifted education.  With over 40 years in the field, her books include the award-winning Bright, Talented, & Black: A Guide for Families of African American Gifted Learners (author), Gifted Children of Color Around the World: Diverse Needs, Exemplary Practices and Directions for the Future (co-edited with Dr. James L. Moore III), and No More Dreams Deferred: Breaking the Barriers to Self-Advocacy for Underserved Gifted Learners (forthcoming, co-edited with Deb Douglas), among other publications.  She has served on the board of the National Association for Gifted Children, as the founding executive director of a Governor’s School for gifted students, as the Virginia State Specialist for K-12 gifted programs, as Director of the Center for Gifted Education at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, as Associate Professor and Chair of Teacher Education at Virginia Union University, and in numerous advisory and leadership roles across the country.  

During this challenging time, we are thrilled to interview Dr. Davis on her latest book and on challenges advocates must address in order to achieve equity and excellence in gifted education.  Read below to learn what parents should know about challenges facing gifted children of color, steps that can improve equity and access, and the importance of strengthening gifted programs for all students who need these services.

What should GT advocates know about the impact of poverty on gifted students of color, and how can they support these students in their districts?

Gifted students of color and those who live in poverty are underserved in school programs for high ability/gifted students nationwide. According to research, there are countless numbers of students from culturally diverse backgrounds who are missing out on services because of biased identification practices, teachers who don’t recognize and believe in the high intelligence creativity of these students, and lack of funding to fully support comprehensive program changes needed to ensure equity and access for all students with high potential. Schools can do more to support these students by changing their identification practices, providing cultural competency training for teachers, and ensuring that school leaders are culturally competent, as well. All school districts that have equity, diversity and inclusion as part of their strategic plans should also be sure that gifted programs are examined and redesigned to ensure equity.

When you talk about equity, diversity, and inclusion, there has to be policy that includes gifted plans, plans for high ability students, [or] advanced learner plans.    I have seen many school districts’ strategic plans that don’t mention anything about high ability and gifted students.  If there is nothing written into policy about equity in gifted programs at the district level, leaders are really not compelled or inclined to do anything.  They will overlook these kids continuously and they will move on to other priorities, other needs that the district may have. 

The information on twice-exceptional African-American students in your book Gifted Children of Color Around the World and in your chapter in Scott Barry Kaufmann’s book is incredibly important.  How can GT advocates support improved awareness of twice- and thrice-exceptional students, and specifically, implementation of recommendations in your book? 

First and most important is educator training on the traits of gifted learners who may also have other exceptionalities, and integration of this training with cultural competency training. Generally, 2E programs address the needs of students in the majority population. Black students with the same traits (gifted and having learning disabilities or other exceptionalities) are served based on the areas needing support, and their gifts are totally dismissed. Look among your exceptional populations students who receive[] SPED services to determine if there are students who may also qualify for gifted services. Teachers must be re-trained to see students of color [as] capable of high intelligence, not always [to view them] as deficient in skills, troublemakers, loud, too busy… twice exceptional services must expand to locate and serve Black students as well as White students.  

What policy changes should GT advocates ask states and districts to make to better support students of color? 

[Ask for] policy changes in identification protocols, ensuring that all services are demographically representative… Black students, Latino students, Native American students are underrepresented in gifted programs.  Policy changes in teacher preparation should also be considered.  Mak[e] sure that all preservice programs include coursework in Special Populations of Gifted students and Culturally Responsive pedagogies.  Additionally, policy changes to increase parent/family engagement are also recommended. In teacher prep programs, all states have mandatory courses, and that’s how they determine whether the teacher prep programs are certified…  If we look at those mandatory courses and include pedagogies, that would be something that all state programs can do.  If that doesn’t happen and we know it’s not happening, then we can be sure local training covers these types of courses.  There are grad programs, masters programs that don’t have any idea how to address the needs of gifted students in general, but certainly not how to deal with the needs of special populations, those understandings are critical. 

An additional change I would recommend is that all school districts increase their parent and family engagement response.  How are we engaging parents?  How are we working collaboratively with parents?  Do parents in these special populations groups feel like gifted programs belong to them?  These are some of the kinds of things I teach about when I conduct full workshops.  We talk about the sense that some populations do not feel gifted education belongs to them, and that’s simply because of the way we’ve operated…  There will be parents even after their children have been identified who will say, “I didn’t know much about this before.” …There’s a sense that gifted programs are owned by other populations, and the populations that are underserved don’t feel that same sense of ownership.  But we can change that.  We can correct that.  Locally, we can change that with policy, but we can also change that with action, with practice.

How can advocates help educators learn to work more effectively with students of color?

Advocates are parents, community members, other stakeholders – these groups should create forums, councils, and be demographically representative and invite school personnel to THEIR table to discuss and plan for change in gifted programs to make them more accessible.

Advocates are groups like your own… these groups, your groups, can create forums.  You can ensure that they are demographically representative, and then you can invite school personnel to your table. It’s always about being invited to the table, being part of the table.  If you don’t have a seat, you are on the table… as advocate groups, you can actually have your own table and then invite school personnel to the table.  Their response to your invitation will say a lot about what their interest is, how willing they are to collaborate, to be partners, and to change conditions in gifted programs to make them more accessible.  We just simply have to decide that we are going to be able to do this.  It may happen differently district to district, but one of the things we can do is to have forums and councils and bring other people in from the school… you invite people to your table, and have these deep and difficult conversations about changing policy.

In addition to learning from your books, do you have recommendations for ways that GT parent groups can become more inclusive of families of color?

Invit[e] faith based leadership, community organizations, Fraternities/Sororities, [and] other existing community support groups to join them at regularly scheduled meetings held throughout the community.  Increasing the sense of belonging is very important.

These other community groups have conversations on their own about these gifted programs that schools have that don’t have anything to do with their kids.  Their kids aren’t being served, and many times they set up their own enrichment programs, Saturday morning programs…  I have been engaged over the last few years with a number of these groups who are doing excellent work that looks just like gifted programs but they are not being held in the school district… you won’t get their constituency voice at the table unless you reach out to them.  Reach out to community organizations, existing organizations.  Find parents in the community, in your schools, who are part of these organizations.   

Advocates for GT have seen a concerning trend of attempts to eliminate funding for gifted programs.  What advice do you have for parents working to protect and improve funding and requirements for gifted programs across the country, both at the local and state level?  

This trend across the country is really dangerous, I think –– very alarming, very concerning. When these things happen, and when we eliminate funding for gifted programs, those who suffer the most are the most vulnerable.  

Your arguments to maintain funding MUST include a position of equity and access that will ensure that all populations, all communities, all families’ needs are met or will be met by gifted/advanced learner programs.  You must be more invitational in your own behavior.  Voices must be those of a wider variety of community members: Black, Hispanic, Low income, Immigrant, any other populations that have been left out of the discussions in the past MUST BE HEARD. Our goal for gifted/advanced learner programs is total inclusion and access for all.  Giftedness has no boundaries. It is not synonymous with affluence. Gifted children originate from all communities.  Everything that you do should demonstrate your belief in these core principles. 

Most of their arguments have to do with the fact that gifted programs… are not meeting the needs of a wide population.  You have got to be smart enough, and genuine enough… to [say]: all communities have gifted students, and we want to meet the needs of those students. You must be more invitational in your own behavior, and not promote exclusion, elitism, and segregationist behaviors.  I’ve seen too much of that already… given the fact that we’re already suffering under this pandemic, the most vulnerable populations are suffering more under this pandemic, community groups like your own must be more invitational, you must be more inclusive.  Voices must be those from a wider community of community members… You have to reach out, and you have to reach deep sometimes. You have to discard, and recognize first of all, your own biases, your own microaggressions that have kept people from being a part of this conversation.

Not to suggest that all children are gifted – I’m not saying that.  I never will say that.  What I’m saying is that in all communities there are gifted children.  Giftedness has no boundaries.  It is not synonymous with affluence.  Just because parents and their children have means does not mean that all of their kids are gifted.  Gifted children originate from all communities.  I have been around the world with this message. There are other communities from different countries around the world who are having the same issues that we are having, and their message is that gifted children originate from all communities.  Our responsibility is to go to all communities and find these gifted minds, bring them in for enrichment, for acceleration, bring them in and train and provide the challenge they need so they can help move our societies forward… we have a responsibility for them if we want them to help society.  We are missing out on a lot of intelligence, a lot of creativity… so many of these kids have the answers [to] the problems that plague us as a society everywhere.  

[If] the school districts who say they want to remove funding and programs win, [then] the children who are gifted and high ability and who have less means…will suffer the most.  We can’t allow that to happen. Publicly funded programs should be available to the public[, and] students from all demographics should benefit. We have an obligation to ensure that gifted programs are inclusive and designed to equitably be available to students from all racial and income groups. Our children are counting on us!  

The Gifted Education Family Network wishes to thank Dr. Davis immensely for her time and for her lifetime of incredible work in the field of gifted education.  

We are excited to recommend Dr. Davis for onsite and virtual parent workshops, private consultation, professional learning workshops, keynote presentations, and evaluation of programs, including consultation services to address equity in gifted education. Please visit drjoylawsondavis.com to learn about her services.

The Gifted Education Family Network also recommends these books by Dr. Davis for both parents and educators, available for purchase:

Bright, Talented, & Black: A Guide for Families of African American Gifted Learners 

Gifted Children of Color Around the World: Diverse Needs, Exemplary Practices and Directions for the Future

COMING SOON: No More Dreams Deferred: Breaking the Barriers to Self-Advocacy for Underserved Gifted Learners, co-edited by Dr. Joy Lawson Davis and Deb Douglas (forthcoming).

Photo credit and all rights to content in Gifted Children of Color Around the World and Bright, Talented & Black: a Guide for Families of African American Gifted Learners reserved by Joy Lawson Davis, Ed.D.

Emily Villamar-Robbins, J.D. holds a Graduate Academic Certificate in Gifted and Talented Education and has served in multiple volunteer roles for gifted education at the local and state level.  She serves as a member of the Texas Education Commissioner’s Advisory Council on the Education of Gifted Students.

past / October 2, 2020: PACE Fort Bend invites you to virtual meeting on “The Social-Emotional Health of Our Children During COVID-19”

PACE, the Fort Bend Association of Parents for Academic Excellence — and a member of the Gifted Education Family Network’s Parent Advisory Council — is inviting the Gifted Education Family Network to attend their virtual event called “The Social-Emotional Health of Our Children During COVID-19.”

This parent learning event will be held virtually via Zoom on Friday, October 2, 2020, from 9:30 am -10:30 am. Please feel free to invite parents who may be interested. Remember, you are your child’s best advocate and you make a difference!

To register, click here. Registration will close when we reach capacity. Zoom link will be emailed to registered participants 24 hours prior to the event.

Thank you to PACE Fort Bend for generously opening this event to families in the Gifted Education Family Network! PACE families have advocated for gifted & talented learners since 1990.