Adult Presentations and Workshops

Social and Emotional Needs of Gifted Children – Dr James T. Webb (keynote speech)

A widespread myth about gifted children is that, because they are bright, they can simply “make it on their own.” However, the characteristics of gifted children—combined with current educational practices—often put them “at risk.” The social, emotional, and interpersonal needs of gifted/talented children can result in significant problems if these children are not understood and nurtured. This session describes how characteristics of gifted children relate to their social/emotional needs, interpersonal and emotional styles, and frequent difficulties. This information will help parents and teachers understand why gifted/talented children experience peer difficulties, underachieve, challenge or rebel against traditions, or show patterns of perfectionism or depression.

11 Key Parenting Concerns – Dr James T. Webb

Eleven issues are frequent concerns for parents of gifted children: (1) motivation and underachievement, (2) discipline, power struggles, and self-management, (3) intensity, stress and perfectionism, (4) acquaintances, friends, and peers, (5) communication and relationships, (6) siblings and only children, (7) values, traditions, and uniqueness, (8) idealism, unhappiness, and depression, (9) complexities of modern parenting, (10) misdiagnosis and dual diagnoses, and (11) finding a good educational fit. Information will be given about each, along with how four major factors—range of ability, asynchronous development, overexcitabilities, and thinking styles—influence these issues.

Motivation and Underachievement – Dr James T. Webb

Many gifted children underachieve and have problems with motivation. Motivation—far more than intellectual ability or creativity—can be influenced, shaped, and developed. Dr. Webb describes the most common reasons for motivational problems, and then focuses on practical “how to” techniques useful for parents and teachers of all children, but particularly appropriate to gifted children. Transfer of motivation, successive successes, anticipatory praise, and similar techniques are used to develop internalized motivation, appropriate goal-setting, and tolerance of frustration. Torrance’s “teachers who make a difference” results are shared.

Establishing and maintaining communication and relationships with gifted children – Dr James T. Webb

One person can be the key in whether a gifted child succeeds, but that implies communication and a relationship. However, because of their intensity, sensitivity, peer pressure, and power struggles, communication with gifted children can be difficult. In addition, modern technology can interfere. This session will focus on ways to foster communication and nurture healthy relationships at home and school, as well as ways to prevent or overcome barriers to communication and good relationships with adults. Practical suggestions will be offered.

Idealism, unhappiness depression and resiliency – Dr James T. Webb

Gifted children are often idealists concerned with issues such as fairness. Why does depression seem related to their idealism and their intensity? How widespread is depression and unhappiness in gifted children? How can parents, educators, and counselors enhance resiliency in these children? This session will focus on answers to these questions, as well as sources of depression, which children are more at risk, symptoms of depression and suicide, and existential depression.

An Introduction to Giftedness – Rose Blackett

Gifted children and teenagers have unique needs which are often misunderstood.  This presentation will provide and introduction to giftedness.  It is suitable for parents, teachers and any other professionals with an interest in this area.

Risk and Resilience in Gifted Children and Young People – Dr Nadine Ballam, GiftEDnz Speakers’ Bureau Speaker

This presentation explores how ideas about resilience have shifted over time, with a particular emphasis on personal and environmental aspects that might influence the development of talent. Risk and protective factors believed to be common amongst gifted children and young people are presented. Implications for parents, educators and others who live or work with gifted children and young people are also considered.

“It’s risky to be gifted” Fostering resilience in gifted  children and young people – Dr Nadine Ballam

This interactive workshop is for anyone who engages with gifted children or young people, including parents, educators, other professionals and gifted young people themselves. The focus of this session is how aspects of the environment and the people in those contexts might influence the young person’s ability to adapt positively when faced with risks associated with being gifted.

In this workshop, participants will be encouraged to reflect on the various contexts in which they interact with gifted children and young people, their own ability to adapt in the face of adversity, and how this might influence those around them. There will be opportunity to share strategies already used to assist with developing resilience, and to explore how gifted children and young people might be equipped with the tools they need to respond to challenges that may come as part of their giftedness.

This is a problem for The Resilience Kid (ta dah): Making sense (and nonsense) of resilience in the early years – Andrea Delaune

Within this workshop, participants will be involved in experiences designed to make sense (and nonsense) of the concept of resilience for very young gifted children.

The participants will assemble their own pedagogical strategies based upon their (re)consideration of the concept of resilience to use with very young children with a view to further building their (and the children’s) understanding of the concept of resilience.

It is the aim of this workshop for participants to leave with not only some more ‘pedagogical tools’, but also an increased discernment of how resilience can be negatively co-opted, and how to reclaim this back in order to empower very young children with the right to develop their own interpretations of, and approaches towards, resilience.

Resilience of Ben’s mathematical interest to ups and downs in his mathematics education – Dr Igor’ Kontorovich

My talk is based on three years of pedagogical interactions with Ben, a student with a profound talent in mathematics. We met in his pre­academic studies when at the end of the first lesson he approached me with a challenging problem from the end of the course book. Today Ben is a first year student in the Faculty of Mathematics at one of the leading Israeli universities. Ben’s mathematical journey can be analysed through the lens of resilience of his interests to goals and requirements of the educational frameworks in which he studied. I will describe some ups and downs in his journey, such as intriguing problem­solving habits that he developed, motivational and achievement crises that he encountered. Ben’s case will be used for provoking a discussion on supporting and developing talented students through traditional educational frameworks.

“Finding a fit”: Identity development for gifted and talented adolescents – Dr Louise Tapper

This presentation is based around phenomenological research that explored what it is like to be gifted and talented within the socio-cultural milieu of Aotearoa New Zealand schools and how the participants’ schooling experiences impacted on their growing identity development. The presentation will share some of the participants’ messages about the ways in which they needed to evolve as resilient beings as they coped with the tensions that can arise from both negotiating adolescence, and being gifted and talented. What are the challenges to educators and parents as they support these diverse young people to develop the resilience they need, while struggling to ‘find a fit’ in the particular culture of school? As part of the presentation, I will present a model of ‘Gifted and Talented Adolescent Identity Profiles’, that was developed from a synthesis of the stories told to me. The profiles are meant to highlight the complexity and diversity of negotiating identities for gifted and talented learners.

Resilience and Over-Excitabilities: Theory and Practice – Ms Madelaine Armstrong Willcocks

Gifted children can appear to lack resilience to stressors at times. However this appearance may be deceptive; they may, in fact, simply be expressing over-excitabilities. Over-excitabilities, a small part of Dabrowski’s wider theory, are generally not well understood in their rightful context as expressions of developmental potential. This workshop will first discuss over-excitabilities in the light of developmental potential and share recent case study conclusions about expressions of over-excitabilities and the appearance of resilience. It will then look at adaptive, resilience-enhancing ways to acknowledge and accept over-excitabilities, through developing self-awareness. Practical ways to support gifted children both at home and in classrooms will be shared.

Negotiating the minefield of intensities and personality types – Mrs Brooke Trenwith

Intensities and personality types are often a minefield for gifted students and their families. This workshop is based on activities that Brooke used to use with her GATE pull out groups. It will offer an overview of the intensities and management strategies. Participants will also discuss the four main personality types based on Dr Smalley’s Lion, Beaver, Golden Retriever and Otter. Role playing and group work will be a key aspect as participants learn how to negotiate with different personality types and intensities.

Fight, Flight or Freeze. Managing the Stress Response – Mrs Brooke Trenwith

What are some strategies for helping gifted students manage their own stress response? How can Cognitive Behavioural Techniques help the overthinking that many of our gifted students do? What everyday activities can help to build resilience in our gifted students

Grit: What is it and how do you develop it? – Dr. Brett Clark

Grit is important both in the classroom and in other walks of life.  This presentation will explain what grit is and how we can develop and improve it.

Lessons learned during 20 years of Small Poppies – Sue Breen

The workshop includes demonstrations of activities and experiments teachers and parents can use, having seen them in action.

Using practical, hands-on science activities, interesting games using numbers and shapes, and fun games with letters and words, the workshop covers working with young children effectively, using a variety of extension and enrichment activities. The activities are designed to help children to predict, estimate and take risks, especially when encountering unpredictable situations.

This workshop is of particular benefit to teachers working with one or more gifted children and looking for ways to provide challenge for them and to help them to become confident, independent learners.

The workshop presents a holistic approach, developing skills for life with bright young children. This approach, within a sensory-rich, activity-based environment, seeks to engage fully all aspects of the learner – mind, body and spirit.

Personal Development for Personal Empowerment – Ms Anna Meuli and Ms Sue Barriball

While experiencing similar problems to other children, gifted children also face a separate set of challenges. Giftedness, by its nature, brings with it characteristics which may be misunderstood or viewed negatively. As a result gifted students can find themselves in situations which can create significant psychological stress. Psychological resilience is the ability to properly adapt to stress and adversity. It is the end product of an effective coping mechanism.

Anna will share the principles and practices developed within the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education Curriculum to strategically target personal development for gifted students. This work has been developed over a number of years, drawing upon not only a wealth of international research and literature but also from the wealth of experience that working directly with gifted students in a specialised environment brings. This work has been shared, reviewed, augmented and acclaimed in both national and international forums.

Using the Learning Pit to Build Resilience – Ali McCormick

Starting you Schoolwide GATE Journey – Barbara Bowron

Setting up GATE Policy and Procedures. We will be discussing the concept of giftedness, introducing ways to identify gifted students and developing a rational for addressing the needs of gifted students in your school.

Issues arising….grizzles, gripes and great things as reported by gifted and talented students in our schools – Ingrid Fengley-Vaipuna and Vivienne Russell

In the course of our work as Te Toi Tupu GaTE facilitators we have interviewed groups of identified students about their experiences at school (primary and secondary) and the changes they would like that would cater to their specific needs. These honest and insightful discussions raise expected and unexpected issues that occur for them at school and at home. We will discuss some of these issues and also present our ideas about how they may be addressed.

Panel Discussion on Giftedness in the Classroom – Christchurch Teachers

What’s it like having gifted students in your classroom?  How can you meet their educational, social and emotional needs?  Join the discussion with teachers who have successfully taught gifted children.  Questions submitted ahead of time would be appreciated.  Please send them to or post them in the box at the conference.

Finding Quiet in all the Noise! – Michelle Dickinson

In a world full of distractions and noise, some gifted children seek silence and stillness. This talk will address the journey that Dr Michelle Dickinson took as a “quiet child” and how conventional teaching at school just made her feel more isolated. Through developing coping strategies she eventually built New Zealand’s first nanomechanical testing laboratory and became a TV scientist but still searches for pockets of silence every day. By voicing the internal struggles of an introvert who knows success is driven by extroverted traits, Michelle will suggest ways to help parents and teachers to build confidence in a child they think might be struggling with all the noise.