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Clustering by Request

May 20, 2012

The research is definitive that clustering (a.k.a., ability grouping) is a great – and inexpensive – way to meet the needs not just of gifted students but of all students.  Yet very few of our schools really do clustering.   What’s a parent to do?

Last week I heard about a creative approach from a friend in Wyoming.   Her son’s schools allow parents to request a particular teacher for the next school year and usually tries to honor those requests.  So each spring, she and some other parents who volunteer in the schools reach agreement on which teacher will be the “best” teacher for their gifted kids, and they get 6 to 10 parents to request that teacher.  Voila!  Clustering!

Not every school allows parents to request a teacher.  My kids’ elementary school only allowed us to say “My child does best with the kind of teacher who does such-and-such”.   Some only let parents request that their child be in a class with a particular friend, or not be in a class with someone. But if your school allows requests, this may be a way to significantly improve your child’s educational experiences.

Of course, you have to figure out who the other gifted students are in your child’s grade and get together with those parents.   That may involve asking your child who the “best” students are or attending Gallatin Gifted Group meetings to find out who the other parents are.

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