Why I Chose to Focus on Bright and Gifted Children

School teacher to writing mentor

In the past, when I did a lot of 1:1 teaching, I routinely reflected on the character, behaviour and emotions of those I taught. Understanding the whole-child enabled me to see where they were coming from and therefore allowed me to guide them towards greater confidence and progress.  

This ‘behind the scenes’ thinking, although invisible, I felt was at the core of many successful outcomes. However, not all children need such intensive 1:1 classes, and small-group teaching is a more relaxed and sociable approach to learning.

In the early days of Covid-19, I experimented with teaching small-groups of children online and I loved it! So, what makes effective group teaching work well? I learned that having a small group of children who are on the same page really helped to cement a group. At the start I had a mix of children who found writing tricky, easy and those who were focused on exam prep. This array of motivations didn’t make for the amazing progress that I had envisaged! I then reflected on the personality traits and abilities of children that I enjoyed teaching the most. It turned out that when I was honest with myself I absoutely loved working with bright but underconfident, shy and gifted children- this was my niche, yay! The best thing about mentoring very bright children is guiding them to believe in themselves and their talents and to have fun in the process.

Gentle learning

I learned that bright and sensitive children seem to benefit hugely from a straight talking, nurturing approach that instills confidence and self-belief. I’ve discovered that by simply working with children on their level and treating them as indivduals, confidence wants to flourish.

Appreciating different qualities and giving children a relaxed space to express their individuality is a catalyst for happy and positive learning experiences. I’ve also learned that sensitve children seem to be well-suited to a gentle approach with indivdual attention. Within a small group, it’s great when children gradually get to know each other and feel comfortable sharing their ideas.

Magic teaching

I think to truly appreciate fab teaching, it helps to be open about the balance of structured guidance versus the importance of quiet time for children to achieve autonomy. Often we mistake a lot of verbal instruction for good teaching, when in fact, the opposite is true. Confidence grows from giving children the space to take risks and ‘have a go’, it’s their journey afterall!

It’s in their personal journey that the magic unravels... where the real purpose of good teaching can make a difference to the lives of children in the here and now, and the future.

Posted on July 16th 2021

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