One of the most confounding issues I’ve dealt with as a teacher of gifted children and an administrator for gifted programs was finding practices that were successful for twice- exceptional (2e) students. Every time my colleagues and I found strategies that worked one day, they would often not work the next day. The category of 2e is so broad in terms of students’ ability and disability combinations that generalizing practices can be extremely difficult.
Recently, I’ve transitioned from my administrative role with the Bloomington Public Schools in Minnesota to full-time educational consulting. Many of the schools I work with are high-poverty schools struggling with low student performance. During my observations of general education students in these schools, I have recognized many of the same limitations in learning that I saw in my 2e students. This has led me to believe that, beyond the ability/disability equation, there’s something both groups of students have in common.
The Role of Self-regulation in Learning
My current work with teachers has been focused on the ideas and theories of self-regulated learning. Dale Schunk of the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and Barry Zimmerman of the City University of New York, define self-regulation this way:
Based on my experience, it seems that learners’ skills and abilities do not fully explain student achievement, as in the case of 2e students. My suggestion is that 2e students may not have acquired and perfected the many strategies and techniques needed to perform tasks such as persevere, manage distractions, put effort forward, and persist at rudimentary tasks. Furthermore, like other students who struggle in school, many 2e students have not developed effective tools to work at a task that may seem meaningless. They don’t know how to stay focused on the task at hand or how to do this thing we call “school.”
Schools are a bastion of rules, structures, and order. For some gifted students, especially highly creative students, the rules are punishments for wanting to think or color outside the lines. For creative and gifted students, structures and order are meant to be challenged. Therefore, both non-2e and 2e students can benefit from learning effective tools for self-regulation.
A Four-phased Approach to Developing Self-regulation
Zimmerman and colleagues (1996, 1997) state that the development of self-regulation is a four-phased process, described below.
Linking the curriculum to feelings and how we manage those feelings is a very effective way to have students practice and refine their self-regulation. As in the earlier phases, this one will require more time for the 2e student to become comfortable and autonomous with the strategies.
Independence and Application
At this point, students should be putting to use independently the strategies of self-regulation. Students who reach this phase have made the strategies a part of who they are and can apply them without being asked or coached. However, the students still need constant support and encouragement for their use of the strategies.
A recommendation for this phase is to use reflection tools such as a journal, diary, or blog to document students’ personal learning development. We want to keep them focused on goals and what it takes to achieve those goals. “Effort is the key to success” (Dweck, 2006).
Steps for Achieving Greater Self-regulation
After studying much of the research and writings on self-regulation [See the sidebar to this article.] and what it takes to be successful, I’ve created four steps to help 2e students achieve greater levels of self-regulation.
Self-regulation is a critical factor in learning and life success. Students who are twice exceptional may need more time and more consistency in developing these strategies. Keep working at it with your students and remain positive and affirming in your feedback. Remember, these children don’t choose to be 2e.
To learn more about self-regulation, see these resources:
Portions of this article originally appeared in “Cash in on Learning: What It Takes to Be Successful: Self-Regulation,” by Richard Cash, Ed.D., at https://freespiritpublishingblog.com/, © 2013. Used with permission of Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; www.freespirit.com. All rights reserved.
Dr. Richard M. Cash has worked in the field of gifted education for over 25 years. He has taught at the elementary, middle-school, and university levels, and has served as Director of Gifted Programs for the Bloomington Public Schools in Minnesota. His areas of expertise are educational programming, rigorous and challenging curriculum development, differentiated instruction, 21st century skills, and brain-compatible classrooms. In addition, he authored the book Advancing Differentiation: Thinking and Learning for the 21st Century (Free Spirit Publishing, 2011), and co-authored Differentiation for Gifted Learners: Going Beyond the Basics (Free Spirit Publishing, 2013) with Dr. Diane Heacox, an expert in differentiation and gifted education. He is currently a private consultant to school districts around the U.S. and world. He may be reached at http://nrich.consulting/.
Dweck, C.S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. NY: Ballantine Books.
Schunk, D.H., & Zimmerman, B.J. (Eds) (2012). Motivation and self-regulated learning: theory, research and application. New York: Routledge.
Zimmerman, B.J., Bonner, S., & Kovach, R. (1996). Developing self-regulated learners: Beyond achievement to self-efficacy. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.
Zimmerman, B.J., & Kitsantas, A. (1997). Developmental phases in self-regulation: Shifting from process to outcome goals. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 29-36.
This article first appeared in the March, 2014, issue of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter and is used here with permission.
This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.
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