Become a Gifted Education Teacher

Consider teaching the leaders of tomorrow, our gifted and talented students.

Teaching Gifted and Talented Kids

gifted child at chalkboard

All students have gifts, but some students are especially advanced in one or more areas such as math, language, music or art. According to the National Association of Gifted Children, approximately 3 million students are identified as gifted across the country, and more than 8,000 gifted education teachers work with them.

When you choose to become a teacher of the gifted and talented, you perform an essential task: the education of many of tomorrow's leaders, inventors and teachers.

What Does a Gifted Education Teacher Do?

As a gifted education teacher, you'll have responsibilities much like other elementary and secondary teachers; however, your duties will include a number of specialized tasks, such as the following:

  • Planning challenging lessons and assignments so bright students can work at their ability level
  • Developing and learning innovative methods for teaching gifted and talented students
  • Gathering materials and resources, and inviting special guests to encourage classtime achievement
  • Educating students and parents about the opportunities and difficulties associated with exceptional talents
  • Encouraging students to develop discipline, accountability, productivity, creativity and leadership skills
  • Assisting in the college and career selection process (for secondary gifted education teachers)

Work Environment

Gifted and talented students can be found in schools everywhere, and school districts address their needs with special pull-out gifted education programs, as well as with separate schools that cater to self-paced, independent, experiential and advanced classes. Often, families choose to send their gifted and talented students to special private schools that require comprehensive testing and observation to attend.

Community colleges and universities often offer advanced placement programs to younger students entering regular college courses. Professors who teach in these programs have taken special coursework that equips them to handle these students in a college setting.

Education and Training

Your starting point, if you want to become a gifted students' teacher, is to complete a bachelor's degree, either in a particular subject matter or in elementary or secondary education. You may then go straight into a teacher certification program in your state or choose to complete a 1- or 2-year master's degree program in gifted education. These programs offer coursework that helps you identify, evaluate and accommodate special abilities, and require a research project and internship.

Teacher Certification Requirements

Each state governs its own requirements for gifted endorsement certification programs. Most states require a graduate degree and special certification in order to work in a gifted program. Some states, however, require only a generic teaching degree and certification along with the desire to become a gifted education teacher. Check with your state Department of Education for information on requirements in your area.

A Brainiac Secret

A study in "Nature" magazine shows that most gifted children's cerebral cortexes actually develop later than the average brain. That means that a normal brain grows to its full thickness by age 6 to 9, whereas a gifted child's brain stays thinner and continues to develop until age 11 or beyond.