Leisa Taylor

Educational Advisor, BEd, CertRE, GradDipHum, GradCertEdStudies (gifted education), GradDipPsych (2019)

Someone asked me recently, ‘why do you teach?’ When I thought about it, I realised that there were really two things that inspired me about working with young people.

The first is listening to the ideas children present. While these ideas don’t always align with the curriculum, they have their own validity and purpose. I find sharing in the excitement of a new discovery, idea or possibility truly rewarding. The sheer passion that gifted children show for learning is inspiring and contagious. It probably helps that I love learning new things too!

Secondary to this is the pride I experience when watching a child succeed at something they didn’t think was possible. Observing self-doubt and avoidance turn into ambition, I can’t help but feel impressed by their effort and achievement. I believe that encouraging this type of grit and determination is one of the most important things we can encourage in our classrooms and homes.

So what’s the problem?

With the average classroom spanning an ability range of 8 – 10 years, it is a big ask for teachers to meet the needs of all their students. For our non-standardised minds, they seem to fall short of the expectations, experience frustration or look outside the box too often. In an era of standardised curriculum and assessment, it is difficult for teachers to find the time to let children explore diverse ideas or present their findings in alternate ways. There is pressure on schools, pressure on teachers and pressure on students, to conform and produce results. Unfortunately, many of our gifted students are not challenged by what is on offer, while 2e students lack the support to show what they know.

While I do believe that many teachers are hard working and caring professionals, few have training in gifted education. The term twice-exceptional is even more foreign; how can a child be gifted and struggle?¬† In fact, it seems that a significant number of students are misunderstood, by virtue of a lack of teacher training. While some people view gifted education as elitist, I don’t. All children have the right to learn – it’s why they are at school. If we are to meet the challenges facing our world, we need to harness the capacities of our bright and creative minds; to do otherwise is negligent.

A personal journey

As the parent of three very different children, two of whom are twice-exceptional, I know that the challenges posed by the current education system are real. I also know that many children are not getting the support or extension they require at school. Anxiety is an all too common experience for these students and their families.

My decision to step outside of the system was the result of years of advocacy. I was fighting a battle that I just couldn’t win. No one seemed to understand how to meet my child’s diverse needs.¬† I therefore appreciate that stepping outside the system has benefits, and for this reason I actually home-school one of my own children.

Sometimes parents find that taking a break from school can provide some breathing space. It takes time to understand what it means to be ‘gifted’ or ‘twice-exceptional’. With support, gifted and 2e students can succeed at school; we just need to work on understanding and accepting the child, quirks and all, and provide the challenge they need. With an appropriate program and guidance, these children can go on to achieve the great things that we know they are capable of.

A solution?

Taylored Solutions¬†evolved as a result of my own struggles, in trying to make my child ‘fit the system’. This experience led me to begin postgraduate study in the areas of psychology and gifted education. Consequently, I have a very good awareness of the differentiated support and extension that this population requires.

I am experienced in curriculum design and can work with both primary and secondary students in developing the key skills and ways of thinking that underpin both the Australian Curriculum and project based learning models. Currently, I am available to work individually with students or with families in developing home-education curriculum and personalised learning plans. I have many exciting ideas on the horizon, and will provide updates as these are developed.

For detailed information on my qualifications and experience, please follow this link: Bio