The Teachers’ Guild of NSW and Gifted Families Support Group Inc., under the leadership of respective presidents Melinda Gindy and Dr Frederick Osman, joined in partnership with the vision to: provide a unique platform for all educators to network as they engage in best practice application for gifted learners within their chosen field. A Conference Organising Committee was convened and comprised of Melinda Gindy, Dr Frederick Osman, Penina Barry, Vic Branson, Katrina Calverley, Kathryn Fraser, Peta Jauncey, Nicole Sabbadin and Dr Anne-Marie Singh.
The Gifted Awareness Forum for Educators (GAFE) was then established and incorporated the national Gifted Awareness Week 2019 theme Belonging. The program was designed to emphasise both networking (within both focus areas and stages) and practical application, delivered on a professional platform. The Forum was held in the beautiful grounds of Newington College in Stanmore, Sydney, New South Wales and catering was supplied by The Grounds of Alexandria.
The Organising Committee was thrilled to receive extensive support for GAFE throughout multiple school sectors and regions across New South Wales. The GAFE program was thoroughly embraced by the 100+ attendees and received some very positive feedback. International Keynote, Associate Professor Lannie Kanevsky opened our forum with her presentation: ‘Brilliance Belongs in School – Let’s Find It’. Lannie emphasised the Brilliant Behaviours that distinguish high ability learners from their peers as “symptoms” of learners’ underlying potentials resulting from the combined influences from the Quantitative and Qualitative differences.
Following Associate Professor Kanevsky, we welcomed Dr Katherine Hoekman who provided a common ground in order to build collective strength and prepare gifted learners for life in her plenary presentation.
After morning tea, delegates moved into breakout workshops which were designed to incorporate focus groups with the emphasis being on practical application for engaging gifted students across focus areas. Delegates had the option of selecting from a STEM by Tom Lever, the performing arts strand presented by Aine De Paor, leadership strand presented by Barbara Stone, twice-exceptionality strand presented by Dr Geraldine Townend and a ‘EAL/D & Gifted Ed.’ strand presented by Cathy Molloy.
Following lunch, delegates moved again into breakout workshops, this time designed to incorporate focus groups with the emphasis being on practical application for engaging gifted students across curriculum levels. Delegates has the option of selecting from the Early Childhood strand presented by Dr Kerry Hodge, Primary strand presented by Professor Lannie Kanevsky, Secondary strand presented by Dr Anne-Marie Singh and the Spotlight- Tertiary session presented by delegates and talented students.
Dr Ruth Phillips closed the Gifted Awareness Forum for Educators with her challenge to delegates in the final plenary session. A number of delegates continued lively discussion at the forum dinner held after the closing remarks.
Some feedback responses for GAFE included:
‘…The keynote session was very engaging and introduced excellent practical examples on brilliant behaviours.’
‘…The practical examples given in the lectures and workshops were very helpful.’
‘…The secondary workshop strand offered practical strategies, based on research, that can be used in class.’
‘…Thank you for providing expert presenters at GAFE in sharing a good balance of theory and practice.’
‘…The presenters were outstanding. Associate Professor Lannie Kanevsky's session on Brilliant Behaviours was grounded in research and linked explicitly to differentiation activities for gifted students…’
‘…. Examples of resources to accelerate and differentiate flexible classes were outstanding. Discussion with other participants also gave me ideas that I have since implemented. For-example front of class, back of class…’
The Organising Committee would like to thank our sponsors Newington College, VS Oceania, Bookform, anzuk.education, Walker books, Hawker Brownlow Education and the Science Teacher’s Association of NSW. Their generous support contributed greatly to the success of the forum.
Due to the overwhelming support and positive feedback on GAFE, Teachers’ Guild of NSW and GFSG Inc. have mutually decided that GAFE will now be scheduled as a biennial event, to coincide with Gifted Awareness Week Australia.
On behalf of Melinda, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the Organising Committee and respective association committees for their hard work, dedication and commitment to the success of the Gifted Awareness Forum for Educators.