Talent Development From the Talented Students’ Point of View: What Makes an Effective Teacher for High Talent Learners?

Presenter(s): Karen B. Rogers

In an international survey of high talent learners’ perceptions of their “best” and “worst” teachers, consistent patterns regarding teacher intellect, teachers’ instructional prowess, and teachers’ personal characteristics were found for “effective” talent development teachers as well as “ineffective” ones. These findings clarify what teacher traits can be supported with professional development so that less than effective behaviors and characteristics can be modified as well as which natural behaviors and characteristics teachers bring to a talent program or class are likely to develop talent optimally. The results may aid school heads and principals in affirming or improving their hiring practices for such specialized programs or schools. As a part of this study, 1,500 students in an Australian selective school were asked to rate the importance of 81 research-based teacher characteristics or behaviors, derived from both general and gifted teacher studies. In addition, open-ended responses were provided to these students to put into words or descriptive phrases those behaviors and characteristics of their “best” and “worst” teachers. This presentation does not suggest that some personnel should not be teaching, so much as trying to match teacher behaviors to a population who would benefit from a set of “effective” traits for a specific population. Not all teachers may be at their best with every kind of student found in the classroom.