1. Help us build our bona fides in Olympia. We would like to reach 750 followers on Facebook during session. Please “like” us on Facebook.
2. While you need to work on an almost daily basis with your local building and/or district, we offer a special opportunity to interact with state legislators. We look forward to working with you on educating our legislators on Gifted Education Day in Washington, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. Since appointments are easier to arrange for a small group to meet with a legislator, rather than a number of individual appointments, consider joining with other advocates in your area and making a joint trip to Olympia. Coming jointly makes parking easier to find and less expensive.
3. You can now submit comments on any pending bill by clicking on “comment on this bill” on the bill home page. The first time you use it you will be asked to set up an account with your email and a password. You will also be asked for your name and address. I tried it and it is easy to set up and use. Comments are limited to 1000 characters. Quick and easy – except for counting the number of characters in your message. If you are a Twitter user you already do that. This is a test run to see how much it is used and how much value it has to legislators.
4. Seabury School is presenting Dr. Susan Daniels on “Raising Creative Kids” on February 20th in Tacoma. Creative children think outside the box! They are driven by curiosity and innovation. Parenting them, however, can be both EXCITING and EXHAUSTING. Learn strategies for cultivating and supporting creativity, as well as parenting strategies for nurturing the social and emotional development of your creative children. For more information, or to register, visit their event page.
IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO KNOW
5. If you receive e-mails from email@example.com, please be sure any message or spam filters you have will also accept messages from firstname.lastname@example.org. To ensure that we can always get important communications to you, even if one of our methods is not available, we’re building some redundancy into our system. We’ll be working on some additional changes in the coming weeks and days. Even though the address is different, the email is indeed from us.
6. Bills are starting to move out of committees to the floor. Besides any emails we may send out, important information and updates will be available on our Facebook page, so be sure to check there. http://www.facebook.com/wagifted
7. The following material is adapted from Advice for New Gifted Education Specialists by Tamara Fisher on her blog Unwrapping the Gifted. Ms. Fisher is a nationally recognized leader in the field of gifted education and is the gifted specialist in a district in Montana. Her blog appears on Education Week Teacher at http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/unwrapping_the_gifted/
This particular essay is advice for newly minted gifted specialists but so much of it applies to parents who advocate on a local level I couldn’t help but quote from parts of it to share it with you.
By Tamara Fisher
1. Connect with others who do what you do. You will need a support network of others who “get it” and speak the same language. Join your local, state and national gifted education associations.
2. Be okay with not being popular. You won’t be everyone’s favorite person, and some will dislike or be cynical about you simply because of your position. Some will cringe or roll their eyes (literally or internally) when you speak up at meetings. Yes, being an advocate for your student will often mean others won’t be keen on you. So be it. *shrug* Now you know who your allies are – and are not. Now you know who needs to be the object of further efforts on your part to educate them about the needs of gifted learners.
3. Be ready to commit to committees. If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. Even if others in your school or district understand the needs of gifted and advanced learners, that doesn’t mean they are as prepared and as willing and as mindful to be a voice for these kids as you are.
4. Nurture and support positive working relationships with your administrators and school board members. They are often the final deciders, and whether or not they have some understanding of the needs of gifted learners (and therefore how those needs are impacted by their decisions) may depend on whether or not you’ve made or taken advantage of opportunities to educate them about those needs. Be positive. Be proactive. Be persistent.
5. Know your stuff. You must become the local expert on these kids. There’s a lot of misinformation out there regarding what is and is not best for advanced learners. It will frequently fall to you to clear up the confusion or to set someone straight or make the distinction between research-based best practice and long-held mythology.
6. And finally, be proactive. Gifted students are (among) the most misunderstood, overlooked, inadequately taught learners in our classrooms… because others think they are okay on their own or where they are. But okay isn’t good enough. The needs of gifted students stem from their strengths, and helping others to understand this counterintuitive reality is now part of your aim.
Get ready and go out and talk to your legislators and administrators about the need for appropriate programs for highly capable learners. Be a warrior, an advocate, a leader, an expert, an ally – if necessary, a burr under someone’s saddle.