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Optimizing gifted education requires optimizing teacher education. This was the underpinning concept for the WCGTC Global Principles for Professional Learning in Gifted Education. While developing these principles, many differences in perspectives on giftedness, teacher education in general and gifted education in particular, between countries were discussed. It became clear that in each country, specialists in gifted education struggle to find ways to transfer what we know about gifted education into ways to stimulate professional learning for teachers. Opportunities and limitations due to cultural differences, local policies, perspectives on giftedness, et cetera place colleagues from all over the world for different challenges. The purpose of this webinar is to present three examples to optimize teacher education. The presenters will discuss good practices and their research into competency development and teacher education. Participants will be given the opportunity to interact and compare their professional experiences to what is presented in the showcases.

Mojca Juriševič - World Council for Gifted and Talented Children Executive Committee Member

Mojca Juriševič​

In Slovenia, teacher education takes place in two successive phases: initial teacher education (ITE) and professional development courses (CPD). Initial teacher education is public and takes place at university level within the framework of the European Qualifications Framework (i.e. 300 ECTS). Classroom teachers are educated at the faculties of education, whereas subject teachers are educated either at the faculties of education (parallel ITE system) or at other faculties that are fundamental to the respective professional profile of subject teachers (sequential ITE system). In-service teachers are educated in a system of CPD courses linked to their professional development, and thus to the quality assurance of the whole education system.
Against the broader cultural and historical background of the Slovenian education system, gifted education is not (yet) systematically organised and well coordinated across the whole education chain, which is also the case for teacher education. Therefore, the contents of gifted education are integrated into various subjects of initial teacher education and are not offered as regular subjects in the degree programmes. However, students can still choose from elective subjects related to gifted education. On the other hand, in the framework of the CPD system, which is under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia, courses of 8-24 hours can be offered to provide teachers with some specific contents in the field of gifted education. Finally, Slovenian teachers can learn about gifted education at professional conferences and in national and international projects, as well as through individual literature study. However, none of the presented forms of professional learning in gifted education is compulsory, but counts entirely on the enthusiasm of individual teacher or school.
In this presentation, I will share some empirically supported approaches from Centre for Research and Promotion of Giftedness at the Faculty of Education, University of Ljubljana that can be integrated into pre-service and in-service teacher education to enable teachers to teach gifted students appropriately.

Eleonoor van Gerven

In the Netherlands and Flanders, a growing number of primary schools are now providing gifted education. Teachers have expressed their need for practical suggestions that will help them to offer high-quality education to gifted learners (Haenen & Mol-Lous, 2014; Houkema, Janssen, & Steenbergen-Penterman, 2018). To achieve high-quality in gifted education, high quality in teacher education on this subject is required (Biesta, 2012; Lunenberg et al., 2014). To meet their professional needs, an increasing number of Dutch and Flemish teachers are investing in continuous professional development on the subject of gifted education.

In this study, a competency matrix providing a framework for postgraduate teacher education programmes for specialists in gifted education was developed. Generic teaching education competencies were viewed through the lens of gifted education (Bakx et al., 2019; Callahan & Hertberg-Davis, 2018; Cooper et al., 2017; Johnson, et al., 2016; Onderwijscoöperatie, 2014; Struyven & Ceulemans, 2012). The matrix describes 25 competencies considered by the international professional community of specialists in gifted education to contribute to high-quality gifted education matching the inclusive approach that underpins educational policies on how teachers should cope with the diversity of students in their classrooms (M-Decreet, 2014; Wet primair onderwijs BES, 2016).

The study describes what knowledge and skills could be considered examples of the 25 competencies that are recommended. Stakeholders (teachers, specialists in gifted education and parents; N=354) were presented with these indicators and asked which of them they considered important. Their selections provide insight into their understanding of the competencies of specialists in gifted education. The selections also provide a better understanding of what stakeholders consider to be important for gifted education.

This competency matrix can be used as a mental framework for the development of customised teacher education, based on the particular professional concerns of teachers. It can be used as a guideline in developing professional standards for specialists in gifted education.

Litchi Devi Ponnusamy WCGTC Webinar Speaker

Letchmi Devi Ponnusamy

Over the past two decades, the Singapore education system has been supporting High Ability Learners (HAL) through a series of supports. For the primary level, a Gifted Education (GE) programme continues since its inception more than 40 years ago. At the same time, broader supports are offered to high ability learners at the secondary levels via school-based programmes.Teachers are trained for the GE programme by gifted education experts and specialists from MOE, whilst at the secondary level, teacher training is more diverse and is based on their HAL learners’ needs (Koh et al, 2014). In general delivery of PD programmes offered by different service providers need to meet specific service quality guidelines required by the Ministry. Given the wide range of teacher learning experiences and competencies, a recent examination of teachers’ perspectives of teaching HALs from selected secondary schools provided fresh insights about teacher training. The study has shown a lack of coherence with the instructional policies and strategies and learning outcomes across schools offering HAL programmes (Tan et al 2017; Tan et al, 2020). Teachers currently undertaking courses in HAS curriculum development have also shared their thoughts on the challenges that they face with meeting the needs of HALs in their classrooms. These key tensions are considered to distill insights to understand supporting teachers working with HALs.