In gifted and talented programs, teachers often just expect gifted and talented students to behave well because they are bright and capable of excellent academic work. However, it is important for teachers to remember that these are children or teenagers who need direction, guidelines, and rules like other children their age. During the first meeting with the gifted students, the teacher should:
- Explain her classroom behavior management plan with students
- Discuss with students her expectations for their behavior when in and out of the classroom
- Allow students to share their feelings and past experiences with classroom behavior plans
- Possibly change some rules or guidelines based on this feedback from students (if the teacher feels some of these will work in her gifted and talented program's classroom and with her personality)
When teaching students in gifted and talented programs, it is important for teachers to be flexible and see their classroom behavior management as a work-in-progress. If something isn't working in gifted and talented programs, even if it's worked in past years, teachers should be willing to change and adapt their classroom management plans. This philosophy is true for all classroom teachers, but especially teachers of gifted and talented students because these students often think outside of the box. Traditional rules and plans might not best suit their academic and social needs.
For example, in many traditional classrooms, teachers may have the rule for students to raise their hands and wait to be called on before speaking. In a gifted classroom, this rule may not work if students are often having student-led debates and discussions where the teacher is only a facilitator. A gifted and talented program's teacher may set that rule for one particular class with a guest lecturer and then take that rule away when having a book discussion. Again, in gifted and talented programs, it is extremely important for teachers to set clear expectations and guidelines from the first day and maybe at each class meeting.
Sample Classroom Behavior Management Plans
The most important criteria of a classroom behavior management plan is that it encourages behavior for a learning environment and discourages any behavior that is an obstacle to learning. Here are some ideas:
- Classroom meetings for the gifted and talented programs: after expectations and rules are set and discussed, classroom meetings are held when students' behavior is getting in the way of their learning. Students help the teacher problem-solve and figure out solutions to help the students.
- Nurtured Heart Approach: This is a complete behavior philosophy; but basically, the teacher asks students to "reset" when their behavior is not in control. The student stops what he is doing, counts to thirty (or some agreed upon number), and comes back to his activity. The teacher focuses her energy on positive behaviors and not correcting negative ones.
- Classroom bucks or points: Gifted teachers can award bucks or points to gifted and talented students for good behavior at each class meeting. These rewards can be redeemed for prizes or privileges at a later date.