Gifted and Thriving: Redefining the “T” in G/T

The importance of equipping gifted students to thrive in every area of life

gifted-students-thriving-in-liveReading glasses are a badge of honor in the aging process. They’re evidence that your eyes have been so well used that they now require a little help.

The problem with reading glasses is that they make it impossible to see off into the distance.

What a great metaphor for working with gifted kids!

Sometimes we have our reading glasses on and we focus on what students need today. But what about 20 years down the road?

Are we giving them the skills they need to thrive long term?

In this one-hour course, “Gifted and Thriving”, Mike Sayler, Ph.D. encourages educators to take off the reading glasses and put on their long-distance lenses. He also explains why taking this long-term perspective with G/T students is just as essential to a student’s ability to thrive as the mastery of academic skills.

Dr. Sayler is an Associate Professor of Education Psychology and the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Research in the College of Education at the University of North Texas. He’s been a teacher and professor in a variety of public schools and universities for over 30 years.

Taking Gifted Students From Talented to Thriving

Gifted-student-thriving Good_Will_HuntingWe all know that the “T” in G/T means talented.

But what’s more important, possessing a talent or thriving in life?

We can all remember Will from Good Will Hunting; a highly gifted individual floundering because he’d never been taught to succeed in life.

“Some people can’t believe in themselves until someone else believes in them first.”

Good Will Hunting

Talent alone is not enough.

Dr. Sayler believes relationships, friendships, and even spirituality are essential components of educating G/T students to blossom. “Taken all together, these elements allow for personal flourishing, which is the thriving part of gifted and thriving,” says Dr. Sayler.

Where did the talent go?

gifted students hiking and thrivingLearning and education are kind of like hiking. You have to focus on the trail right in front of you; otherwise, you’ll probably trip on a rock and twist an ankle.

But you also have to focus some attention on the path ahead so that you don’t end up taking a wrong turn.

Sometimes we focus too much on the path right in front of our gifted students. For most educators, that often means preparing for the dreaded standardized tests.

This approach means our gifted students aren’t necessarily prepared for the challenges of life that lies ahead. Then, ten or twenty years down the road, we wonder, ‘where did all of that talent go?’

What does thriving look like?

Thriving looks different for every student as they move into adulthood. For one, it could be using her giftedness to homeschool her own children; while for another it might mean becoming an astrophysicist.

Wherever the trail of life may lead, gifted students who thrive are those who continue to use their giftedness and flourish while doing it.

Talents + Character + Integrity = Thriving

gifted students hiking and thriving in life and schoolDeveloping talents, character, and integrity are the key components for training a gifted child to thrive in life. Talent development is more than just teaching concepts; it’s offering opportunities for:

  • Independent study
  • Daily challenge
  • Extra development in talent areas
  • Talent interventions
  • Long-term study and learning skills

Character development happens most often through friendships. “I’m thinking of friends as ancient philosophers did,” says Dr. Sayler, “which is that person who wants you to be the very best you can.” These types of friendships develop character as well as encourage talents.

If you want to read more about character, I highly recommend our recent posts about social and emotional development of gifted students.

Integrity, or unity of life, often comes through spirituality and adds depth to life. Integrity leads to wisdom, clear purpose, vision, and determination. It’s about looking for something of substance in life.

Socrates believed that the purpose of education was to help the person come to know himself to serve others, to embrace broader moral and political values. It’s not just about getting a good job, making lots of money, or buying gadgets.

So what’s your role in helping your students flourish?

In this course, Dr. Sayler invites us to turn our classrooms into an environment where students can succeed. Explore how to develop talents, character, and integrity, all of which are invaluable for training gifted students to thrive in life.

want this 1-hour course

Delivering Quality Training – No Matter Where You Are

Did you know that this course is mobile ready? That means you can complete the course on your smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer, or any other mobile device!
Images courtesy of Flickr via Camera Eye Photography, JefferyTurner, &