The World Council for Gifted and Talented Children (WCGTC) hosted the 20th Biennial Conference in Louisville, KY, in August, 2013. The gathering provided an opportunity for over 500 participants from 41 countries to join in discussing best practice, promoting new ideas, and sharing cutting-edge research. The conference was also the main event for the International Year of Giftedness and Creativity. This an exciting time to be a gifted educator and advocate, and Louisville was the place to be!
Keynote speakers came from around the world, all recognized as leaders in the field. Five presentations represented perspectives from around the world, including topics as diverse as creativity and using competitions to develop student creativity, to the need for greater cultural understanding of the concepts of giftedness, creativity, and talent. Five speakers from the United States described ways to help talented youth use talents in socially responsible ways, as well as ways to better identify gifted learners with intelligence tests; U.S. speakers talked about specific ways to actively engage youth in joyous learning.
Dr. Megan Foley Nicpon, one of the American keynoters, clearly articulated the importance of understanding and supporting twice-exceptional students, providing deeper knowledge about the challenges twice-exceptional students face, practical strategies about how to optimize talent domains, and accommodations that work to facilitate positive educational and personal experiences for this exceptional group of learners. Foley Nicpon, a professor of Counseling Psychology in Psychological and Quantitative Foundations, shared best practices drawn from her extensive work at the Assessment and Counseling Clinic at the Belin-Blank Center.
In addition to the keynotes, the conference featured hundreds of concurrent presentations in varied strands, including
- Advocating for the Gifted;
- Assessment, Screening, and Identification: Approaches, Models, and Tools;
- Creativity: Theory, Research, and Practices;
- Curriculum and Classroom Practice;
- Educational Technology;
- Developing Future Leaders;
- Giftedness: Theory, Research, Practices, and Future Trends;
- Guidance and Counseling;
- Homeschooling, Parenting, and Parent Matters;
- Innovation Education;
- Moral Education, Values, and Social Conscience;
- Partnering Globally for Success;
- Social-Emotional Needs for the Gifted, Creative, and Talented; and
- Twice-Exceptional Learners.
Dr. Laurie Croft (Belin-Blank Center, USA) shared two presentations in two different strands. In the Giftedness strand, Croft shared new research about adolescents’ perceptions of their most influential teachers. Student evaluations are being used nationally as part of efforts to evaluate teacher effectiveness, but gifted students comment about factors not typically considered. Talented adolescents rate challenge as most important to them, as well as a teacher’s ability to inspire them and care about them, all factors included in a popular national tool. They also specifically acknowledge teachers who demonstrate skillful teaching and who support them, going the extra mile, reflecting those teachers of the gifted who support unique needs in unique ways.
In the Partnering Globally strand, Croft introduced the new 18-hour Recognition of Excellence in Talent Development opportunity available through the Center. The program is designed to help anyone develop comprehensive understanding of the nature and needs of gifted learners, as well as best practices in the talent development process, through English-language coursework.