A Conference Devoted To Social And Emotional Giftedness

I attended and presented at my 6th SENG Conference in July, this time in Milwaukee. SENG stands for Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted. I love that the entire focus of the three day conference is on social and emotional aspects of giftedness, rather than being about gifted education overall.

My presentation was titled: Make A Difference: 10 Steps To Starting Your Own Student Discussion Groups. Here’s how I described my presentation in the SENG conference agenda:

Discussion groups are an often overlooked school-based intervention that have a huge pay-off in social and emotional benefits for gifted students. This session will provide step-by-step information and suggestions for getting a student discussion group started, as well as appropriate and meaningful topics for group discussions, pragmatic ways to facilitate these discussions, and resources that provide practical information and activities.

There’s never enough time for questions or personal conversations with the teachers, counselors, GT coordinators and parents in the audience. I know that while they’re excited about discussion groups, they feel that there are key hurdles to overcome.

People want to know how they can get support from administration and other teachers to start groups? Where will they find the time to fit in a group during their already filled and busy work week? Should the group be mixed age or just one grade? Can kids with twice exceptionalities and Aspergers be in a group with the typical gifted kids?

Barriers can obviously hinder getting a discussion group started. Luckily many teachers, counselors and GT coordinators understand the need and take on the challenge.

One of the best sessions I attended was The Gift of Self: Developing and Enhancing Self-Concept in Gifted Learners presented by Lisa Van Gemert.

Gemert says that girls lose about half of their sense of self by age 12 or 13, so we need to really “stack up the chips”, like building up a bank of chips in a poker game, so that girls are willing to take risks and put themselves out there. The key to core self concept is in feeling that one’s life has meaning. So get girls involved in meaningful pursuits. Of course, there’s a real difference between having reasonable self esteem and being a narcissist!

I hope to see you at the next SENG Conference July 19-21, 2013 in Orlando, Florida.


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