"GT Resource Teachers: Guides on the Path"
answers compiled by Kathee Jones
JAGC wanted to know what a GT resource teacher does, so we asked them. Many thanks to the Jeffco GT Resource teachers for answering JAGC's questions and sharing about the expertise, challenges and joys that are part of their important role in supporting gifted education.
What is a GT Resource Teacher? (“RTs”)
A GT Resource Teacher is a link between the schools and the GT Department, providing the following:
guidance with setting Advanced Learning Plans (ALP) goals
meeting with parents
meeting with teachers (group and one-on-one)
researching best practices
collaboration with Instructional Coaches
collaboration with other Departments
educating teachers/parents/administration, etc. about gifted
create and maintain a body of evidence for identification
assistance in programming options
online parent and teacher course facilitation
implement district initiatives
implement department initiatives
work with students
present monthly parent seminars
present at state, national, and international conferences
serve on various district committees
How do GT Resource Teachers benefit classroom teachers?
GT Resource Teachers benefit classroom teachers in many ways and respond to teacher needs as they arise. They help teachers nurture and program for their gifted students. For example, an RT shares that "we often meet with individual teachers or groups to discuss their gifted students, problem solve, help develop enrichment and extension opportunities, explore programming options, and support student social emotional development." RTs also conduct staff training at schools or other district venues on a variety of topics. Another avenue of professional development that RTs offer is the option for teachers to take online courses or inservice or graduate credit, focusing on different areas of giftedness.
The GT department facilitates a yearly screening for gifted students using the CogAT assessment which occurs district-wide in second grade. Once the results are available, the RTs benefit classroom teachers by discussing assessment results and assisting in next steps. They meet with teachers to review the results and build a body of evidence to support the creation of Advanced Learning Plans (ALPs) for gifted students. RTs also meet regularly with teachers to set goals for students' ALPs and monitor progress of those goals. Teacher support is a main component of Jeffco GT Resource Teachers' work.
Who else do GT Resource Teachers collaborate with?
Jeffco GT Resource Teachers also collaborate with :
Classroom Teachers (General Education and GT Center)
DLEA (Department for Learning & Educational Achievement)
SPED (Special Education)
Ed Tech (Educational Technology)
ESL (ESL/Dual Language Programs)
What might a Resource Teacher’s day look like?
Jeffco GT Resource Teachers must be flexible. One RT thinks of it as working in “chunks”, depending on the task.
For example, RTs spend the first two weeks of the school year visiting the 20+ schools they each serve, meeting and building relationships with each schools' BLs (Building Liaisons), principals, and Instructional Coaches. If the RTs have new schools that they are serving, this takes additional time. Then RTs make sure lists of all students with ALPs are available and check in with Center program teachers.
CogAT season can take 6-8 weeks to get materials to some sites, collect materials, analyze data, and meet with Second Grade teachers to discuss results.They also begin the ALP creation for those who newly qualify. During this time RTs also gather CSAP data and identify 5th & 6th grade students and begin writing those ALPs. RTs work with classroom teachers to set appropriate ALP goals with students alongside the goal-setting process. With secondary schools the Resource Teachers address ALPs through the NAVIANCE system.
Other responsibilities include: trying to visit each school once a month, providing staff development, providing and attending professional development for Center teachers and Building Liaisons, and presenting at state and national conferences. RTs also attending GT staff meetings, Division of Instruction meetings, instructional coaches meetings, and various committee meetings. They attend several RtI (Response to Intervention) meetings and sometimes IEP/ALP meetings with teachers, students and parents to help support schools in problem solving appropriate interventions and strategies that support individual GT learners.
One RT also notes that "a large role of being a GT resource teacher is supporting parents, educating and answering questions of our students' parents."
What kind of background do Jeffco’s GT Resource Teachers have?
Jeffco's GT Resource Teachers have a varied background in education, from elementary through secondary. All of the Resource Teachers have multiple degrees. All have a masters degree in gifted education or are endorsed in gifted education. and some of our Resources Teachers have doctorates in a variety of areas. There are also Resource Teachers with their administrative and Principal's licenses.
Each RT has a passion in specific gifted topics, have become experts in the most updates research, and have a strong technology background. They've published in state and national journals and periodicals. Our Jeffco Reasource Teachers have also provided professional development at local, state, national, and/or international conferences. They have have developed and presented Parent Seminars on a variety of GT topics, as well as developing and teaching numerous GT on-line courses for teachers and parents.
What is the best thing about being a GT Resource Teacher?
Our Jeffco GT Resource Teachers value the relationships and enjoy working with a variety of teachers, principals, parents and students. There is the satisfaction of supporting GT learners with resources, strategies, and problem solving as a team to meet the students needs; JAGC was told "I believe that our expertise allows us to help view the child with a different lens on best practices for supporting gifted learners characteristics, learning profiles, and their social/emotional needs." Another nice thing about being a RT is the variety and flexibility of the day. It was noted that "the role requires keeping a number of spinning plates in the air at all times. For the most part we try (and are very good at) being proactive, but often must be reactive as things come up."
What is the most difficult challenge in being a GT Resource Teacher?
The challenges noted stemmed from the GT Resource Teachers desire to meet the varied needs of all of Jeffco's individual gifted students in their different school environments. RTs support approximately 20 schools each and it is difficult to provide for all the needs in a timely manner. Further, "some schools welcome the support of the RT, while other schools would prefer not to be involved with us". The RT's role is complex as they consider what is best for the student while at the same time support the needs of the school, teacher, parent and make sure that best practice for gifted learners is in place. The GT Resource teachers find they must spend a great deal of time overcoming misperceptions about the characteristics of a gifted learner and educating staff and parents about the application of best practices to ascynchronous students. It was noted that "acceptance of the body of evidence is sometimes difficult to explain, and we are often asked 'how can this child be gifted--they don’t do their work' when in fact the work might not be appropriate for the student". Another difficulty is being pulled in may directions and managing the multitude of their work. In addition to supporting schools Jeffco GT Resource Teachers serve on many committees and work groups.
How do I contact the right person if I have questions about my GT student?
Our GT Resource Teachers in Jeffco support approximately 20 schools each and often cover a large geographic area. Parents should always begin by contacting their student’s teacher first to discuss any questions/concerns. If it is a GT specific question, the teacher will direct parents to the GT Resource Teacher who will contact the parent either by voice or email, or the parent can view the list of RTs on Jeffco's GT School Contact web page. If a parent has discussed the issue with the teacher and has not come to a resolution, parents should contact the principal and/or instructional coach. If parents want additional input, they should contact the GT Resource Teacher assigned to their school. Teachers and principals also contact the GT Resource Teacher regarding questions/concerns.
Is there anything else about GT Resource Teachers that it would be helpful to know?
GT Resource Teachers are passionate about instruction. They are housed at schools to offer support. The RTs facilitate on-line classes with teachers regarding best practices in GT for content and social/emotional support. They also provide information for teachers to obtain their GT Endorsement. They have have monthly meetings with Jeffco GT Center teachers and support them as a school to develop consistent practices within their Center. GT Resource Teachers not only work with classroom teachers but often collaborate other departments, as well as with parents and students and within the community, to support gifted learners.
For more information about Gifted and Talented Education in Jeffco, see the district's site.