Author Archives: belinblank

Transformational Leadership Matters: One Student, One Teacher at a Time

Individuals in leadership positions, especially those who aspire to transformational leadership, bear much responsibility in their professional and personal lives.  Indeed, to a certain extent, this responsibility transcends the boundaries of personal or professional life.  Entire volumes about leadership exist; however, daily actions require a shorthand for the guiding principles around transformational leadership.  Here are five words that serve as my guiding principles for transformational leadership in the field of gifted and talented education: voice, doors, affirmation, trust, tension.

Voice:  First, we must give voice to those who – for whatever reason – cannot speak for themselves or who are not in a position to have their voices heard.   For example, the psychologist who assesses a child and determines the child has both exceptional intellectual ability and an autism spectrum disorder gives voice to that child through the psychoeducational report and the associated recommendations.  The teachers and counselors who enact those recommendations also give voice to that child.

Above-level testing through the talent search process gives voice to individual children who are high achievers as well as groups of high achieving students.   Having information about a child can be the key to opportunity.

Researchers who seek to better understand the talent development process and the role of education in ensuring the development of talent give voice to professionals and colleagues through their research findings.  The voice is strongest when research is used to develop policy.  This is the only way to promote transformation in education.

Doors:  Professionals, parents, and volunteers have the capacity to open doors.  This capacity is greater than they may think, and the rewards are far-reaching.  New opportunities are a sign of affirmation and trust, and it is our responsibility to find doors for students and colleagues.

Affirmation:  Leadership implies that there is one person who is “leading.”  That has not been my experience.  You cannot lead if you do not have a team of people with whom to collaborate.  Every action of each team member, no matter how small, requires support from the team.

Trust:  Affirmation and trust go hand in hand.  Among the many synonyms for trust are reliance and confidence.  A member of the team has to know that the leader has confidence in the individual and collective creativity of the team.  Likewise, the team members should know that the leader relies on them to put forth their strongest effort.

Tension:  Finally, any action that aims to transform will require effort and energy, which automatically means that there is some level of tension involved.  Effort involves  stress, output, and strength.  One of the most important jobs of a leader is keeping in mind the tensions associated with giving voice, opening doors, offering affirmation, and demonstrating trust.

Leadership means asking challenging questions of others and ourselves.  Who gives voice to your students? Who opens the doors for them?  Do your students know that you trust that they can meet a challenge?  These questions correspond to one of the most pressing issues in our field: finding students with academic talent – especially those who are vulnerable due to disability, culture, or economics – and keeping them engaged in the talent development process.

I hope that you enjoy the current issue of our newsletter, where you will learn about the many ways the Belin-Blank Center staff are opening doors and giving voice to students and educators.

Excerpted from remarks made on February 8, 2017, as part of the Denver University Transformation Leadership Gifted Education Conference.   Professor Norma Lu Hafenstein, Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education, led the panel that included Dr. Del Siegle, Dr. Dorinda Carter Andrews, and Ms. Jacquelin Medina.  In addition to responding to the question asking panelists to interpret the phrase, “transformational leadership matters,” we also responded to a question about the most pressing issues in our field today. 

Professional Learning at its Best

feb17_fellowsFor over 35 years, educators have benefited from a unique professional development opportunity known as the Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank Fellowship Program in Gifted Education. The Fellowship will be held July 10-14, 2017, on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City, and the application process has opened.

This exciting professional development experience allows educators (classroom teachers, school counselors, and administrators) to learn more about gifted and talented students and ways to meet their needs. Participants live on campus for a week, collaborating with others who share their commitment.  As one participant said:

“The Fellowship has certainly given me more knowledge. It has also helped me to realize that learning about gifted education is a process, not a destination. I think no matter how long I do this I will have more to learn, but that is okay. It will make me a more compassionate, understanding teacher.”

This unique Fellowship is designed for the general education teacher—the individual who spends the greatest amount of classroom time with gifted and talented learners. This year, we also welcome teacher leaders/instructional coaches, knowing they work closely with teachers to improve their practice. An endowment covers the cost of room, board, university resources (including WiFi), and nationally recognized experts in gifted education. We ask that districts support their participants through a payment of a $250 resource fee. These resources are comprehensive, serving as useful resources for others in your district.

Download and disseminate a brochure providing an overview of the program. Encourage educators who want to learn about the nature and needs of talented children to apply online. Each applicant is responsible for completing the application process by March 17 and must ask for a brief statement of support from a district administrator, also submitted online by March 17.

If you have any questions about the Fellowship or the application process, please contact Dr. Laurie Croft, Associate Director for Professional Development at laurie-croft@uiowa.edu or 319-335-6148/800-336-6463. We look forward to having an educators from your district join us this summer.

Summer Opportunity for Talented Iowa 7th/8th Graders

BSIWe are still accepting nominations for the Blank Summer Institute (BSI)!  BSI is our most selective middle school program, and it’s a great time for talented students to do a deep dive into their favorite subject and connect with peers with similar interests.  Eight exciting classes await your very best and brightest 7th and 8th graders this summer:

  • Math Problem Solving
  • Advanced Science
  • Social Studies
  • Global & Cultural Studies
  • Invention & Innovation
  • Creative Writing
  • Performing Arts
  • Visual Arts

The deadline for completed applications is February 17…so please get the ball rolling for your students as soon as you can! BSI students must be Iowa students and they must be nominated by their school.  Nominating students is easy!  Visit the BSI page and click on the “Nominate a Student” tab.

How to Identify and Serve High-Ability Hispanic/Latino Students

The Belin-Blank Center is pleased to offer a spring Webinar this year featuring Dr. Jaime Castellano and an exploration about identifying and serving gifted Latino students.  With diversity steadily increasing in our schools, this Webinar will give you greater confidence in serving ALL your high-ability students!

Identifying and Serving Gifted, Advanced, and High-Ability Hispanic/Latino Students: Moving the Cause Forward

February 2, 2017 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.

Dr. Castellano will focus on identifying and serving this unique, intra-ethnically diverse group of students. Implications, recommendations, and practices for learning, teaching, and leading will be shared. When programs, services, and advocacy are part of a dynamic infrastructure designed to meet the needs of our best and brightest Hispanic/Latino students, opportunities for experiencing success know no boundaries.

Learn more and register.


Participants register ONE computer for the webinar, allowing multiple participants to access the session.  A school can register and show to a room filled with staff, for example.  If the date or time isn’t convenient, participants may choose the DVD option.

Cost: $45 for registration for either the Webinar or the DVD; $55 for registration for BOTH the Webinar and the DVD.

For those registered in a Belin-Blank Center class, the registration is discounted (choose that option on the Registration site).

Dr. Castellano will teach RCE:4124:0WKA Ethnic and Cultural Issues & Giftedness to expand on the content in the Webinar; the class begins on February 9 and continues through March 1.  Those enrolled in the class must have access to the Webinar, either by registering their own computer or by participating through a school, AEA, or colleague’s registration.  Prospective students must be registered as University of Iowa Division of Continuing Education students; you can find more information here.

Services at the ACC: Consultation

We get a variety of questions about what our Assessment and Counseling Clinic does and how to know if a particular service is right for a given child.  This week, we’re focusing on the services the Clinic provides, the people who provide them, and how to know if your child could benefit.  Today, we’re focusing on consultations.

doobay

Dr. Alissa Doobay, Supervisor of Psychological Services

We’ve discussed a variety of services available through the Clinic this week.  From individual therapy to social skills groups to assessment, there are a variety of ways to meet the emotional and psychological needs of high-ability and twice-exceptional students.

Sometimes, however, parents have a very specific question about a single issue, set of test scores, or prior evaluation.  This is where a consultation can be useful.

Joyce Goins, Staff Psychologist

Dr. Joyce Goins, Staff Psychologist

Drs. Alissa Doobay and Joyce Goins can provide a record review (analyzing existing test scores and records) or one-time appointment to discuss specific concern in these cases.

Could a consultation help your child?  You can request an appointment through our online intake form.

Services at the ACC: Educational Assessment

We get a variety of questions about what our Assessment and Counseling Clinic does and how to know if a particular service is right for a given child.  This week, we’re focusing on the services the Clinic provides, the people who provide them, and how to know if your child could benefit.  Today, we’re focusing on educational assessments.

Tracy Ksiazak, Postdoctoral Scholar

Dr. Tracy Ksiazak, Postdoctoral Scholar

Individualized educational assessments are conducted to assist with academic planning.  They involve individual assessment of intellectual and academic skills, including above-level skills, as well as a screening of psychosocial factors that may be relevant in academic planning decisions.  These assessments are not diagnostic in nature; therefore, they cannot be submitted to insurance for reimbursement.  Following the assessment, parents are provided with a comprehensive report detailing the test results and our recommendations. The cost depends on the number of hours spent, but a typical educational assessment includes approximately 6 hours of testing and costs $720.  Some initial reasons to consider an individualized educational assessment include:

  • You’re considering whole grade acceleration and would like to get the bulk of the information needed all at once.
  • The student is in 3rd grade or younger, and therefore too young for most other assessments.
  • The student has behavioral/cognitive factors that result in individualized assessment being more accurate than group-administered (e.g., 2e students who don’t “test” as well as expected based on knowledge).

We also offer twice-exceptional assessments, which include intellectual and academic testing in addition to a diagnostic assessment to determine whether the child meets criteria for a particular psychological diagnosis (e.g., Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Specific Learning Disorder, anxiety or depression, etc.). These evaluations are conducted by a licensed psychologist and may be submitted to insurance depending on your insurance provider. There is a currently a waitlist for twice-exceptional assessments.

Could an educational assessment help your child?  You can request an appointment through our online intake form.

Services at the ACC: Family Therapy

We get a variety of questions about what our Assessment and Counseling Clinic does and how to know if a particular service is right for a given child.  This week, we’re focusing on the services the Clinic provides, the people who provide them, and how to know if your child could benefit.  Today, we’re focusing on family therapy.

Nathan Hough

Nathan Hough, Graduate Student

This week, we’ve already talked about individual therapy, in which the child is the client and the focus is mostly on their individual needs.  In family therapy, the whole family is the client as opposed to one child. Therefore, the whole family is usually involved in the work, although this can vary to some degree based on the needs of the family.

The goals for this kind of therapy are usually to improve ways the family members communicate and relate to each other, as well as to address specific areas of concern.

Nathan Hough, doctoral student in Couple and Family therapy, has experience in working with families of high ability students presenting with a variety of issues, including twice-exceptionality, sibling conflict, and complex mental health concerns.

Family therapy is currently free. If a family indicates interest in this service, their information is shared with Armeda Wojciak, faculty in the Couple and Family Therapy (CFT) doctoral program, and then scheduling is handled by the individual therapist (currently, Nathan). Supervision is provided by the CFT faculty, but Belin-Blank Center psychologists are available for consultation with the CFT student as needed. Appointments take place in the Assessment and Counseling Clinic.

Does family therapy sound like a good fit for your family?  You can request to participate in family therapy through our online intake form.