What we do matters…I had just typed those words as the title to this message when an email from a teacher-mom who has advocated extensively for her twice-exceptional student crossed my screen. Of course, I switched screens and opened her email. Her message concluded with these words, “I’m so very grateful that this middle school has seen that 2e kids are HERE and they MATTER.”
You might think that being a teacher would make it easier to advocate. No. Being a teacher in the district where your child attends school requires extra effort when advocating for your child’s academic needs. When a child is twice-exceptional, or 2e (that is, have very high ability and have a learning, behavioral, or social-emotional disability), the effort required increases by magnitudes. This mom has assiduously navigated her professional and personal roles and responsibilities over the past several years to ensure that educators (a) understood the complexity of her child’s strengths and diagnoses and (b) that her child’s needs were being met.
This teacher-mom effectively advocated for her child and blazed a trail for other 2e students. What she did matters, and we know this because the school counselor called her to share that the educators and administrators at her child’s school recognized that traditional approaches for identification for gifted services are not enough for twice-exceptional students. The final phrase, “2e kids are HERE and they MATTER”, captures the essence of the Belin-Blank Center’s tagline: Nurturing Potential/Inspiring Excellence.
Each day, my colleagues and I recognize the wisdom expressed through the psychological principle known as individual differences,. Basically, individuals vary across a variety of traits, including physical size, behaviors, emotions, cognitive ability, and achievement. The licensed psychologists in our Assessment and Counseling Clinic experience this with every client. Understanding the variation in twice-exceptional students from typically-developing students allows psychologists to generate evidence-based recommendations that can be tailored to the student’s needs. When recommendations are translated into advocacy by parents and action by teachers, it can change a child’s educational and overall life trajectory. Our work matters.
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During the weeks of summer programming for gifted students and professional development for educators of gifted students, this notion of doing something that matters is apparent each day – often multiple times a day. Sometimes what matters emerges in a class discussion among educators. Other times, we know that what we do matters when we a student in one of our programs expresses that they were able “to try things that I thought I could never do.”
A new school year is upon us. The Belin-Blank Center’s amazing faculty and administrative, clerical, and student staff are already busy planning for another summer that will matter to students and teachers and to us!
You don’t have to wait until next summer…check out the Weekend Enrichment classes, professional development, above-level testing, or the twice-exceptional research project. Opportunities like these have the potential to make a real difference in a child’s life. As we start this school year, we applaud the educators and parents who pursue these opportunities on behalf of their gifted learners. This work matters.