Mentoring and Support for Gifted and Talented Students through
the Gifted and Talented Ako Group

‘A thriving, student centred learning environment, educating students for their future’

The Aspiration to Establish the Gifted and Talented Ako Group

Wairarapa College established Kaiarahi Akoranga (Academic Mentoring) for all students in 2018. Many parents have appreciated the opportunity to meet with their child and their Ako teacher to discuss the student’s progress and how we can assist in the learning partnership.

The Gifted and Talented Ako Group will be established to be a way of helping to meet the diverse and varied needs of identified gifted and talented students at Wairarapa College and to provide mentoring and support for these students.

The Ako Group will be open to students from years 9-13 in 2019 and will involve sessions of 45 minutes per fortnight. There will also be several whānau meetings with family and the student to discuss their progress and achievement of goals, as per the current Ako system. Numbers will match the current Ako Group size, so will be capped at around 22 students.

Aims, goals, benefits of the Gifted and Talented Ako Group

  1. To provide a safe environment of like-minded peers for identified gifted and talented students.
  2. To meet with families and students to discuss progress and ways that we can assist the students to meet their full potential and achieve their goals.
  3. To liaise with subject teachers to support the academic and social needs of the students.
  4. To help students to learn to deal with challenges (such as perfectionism, imposter syndrome, anxiety, stress, self-esteem issues, overexcitabilities and hypersensitivities) and to help develop skills such as resilience, improved executive functioning and organization and leadership skills.

What is giftedness?

Signs of giftedness in students can include:

–           Getting tired of repetition

–           Processing information quickly and effectively

–           Preferring challenge and complexity

–           Craving new ideas, challenges and experiences

–           Showing high intrinsic motivation and curiosity

–           Having wide-ranging interests or one/two strong passions

–           Having a long concentration span on challenging, interesting topics but inattentive towards topics they are not interested in or have already mastered

–           Intense level of focus on topics of interest to achieve deep understanding

–           High self-efficacy

–           Willing to take intellectual risks

–           Tolerating ambiguity

–           A high level of creativity

–           Perfectionism, idealism, sensitivity

 

Gifted learners can come from all linguistic, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.

 

Why do they need support?

Gifted learners can be affected by:

–           Perfectionism

–           Imposter syndrome

–           Struggling to balance interests and commitment

–           Executive function difficulties

–           Being ‘a square peg in a round hole’

–           Insecurity

–           Existential crisis

–           Overexcitabilities

–           Hypersensitivities (emotional/physical)

–           Learning difficulties

–           ‘Twice exceptionalities’

–           Anxiety

 

Foci for this Ako group will be:

–           Building resilience

–           Providing a community of ‘like-minded peers’

–           Sense of belonging

–           Coping with perfectionism

–           Mindfulness

–           Improving executive function

–           Self-advocacy

–           Leadership skills

–           Cooperating with subject teachers to create differentiated programmes of learning

–           Health and wellbeing of gifted students