The other day, as I was scrolling my twitter feed, I saw that a researcher in the field was coming to town to work with the state on equity and excellence issues. I had immediate feelings of delight- that the equity work is being taken seriously, that the work this particular researcher does was potentially going to be implemented- tempered by feelings of... bemusement, perhaps? I wondered why they'd go through the expense to fly someone in from out of state when I can name 3 faculty members or researchers in our state (or neighboring states) that also focus on equity? And then it dawned on me that one really good reason could be, the "powers that be" don't know!
What is the value of collaboration? In particular with local colleges and universities? Great value, if you ask my humble opinion! After I give a presentation at a conference, I am occasionally asked about a speaker fee- my general response is (a) I'm in it for the gifted babies ESPECIALLY when the topic is around equity, and that (b) I'll generally ask for only two things: cover my travel expenses and allow me to collect research.
Well, I have to get there. That one's easy!
But the research... why is that important? Research helps us understand what works, and to what extent something works. I can theorize (and I do- trust me!) and create grand ideas- but putting them into practice and looking at outcomes, that helps me to track growth, progress, and impact. (Kind of like assessment, huh?)
Local collaborations have an added perk- refer to my first request- cover travel expenses- not as much of an issue; even when there are travel expenses, they tend to be less!
There was a recent special issue of Gifted Child Today that was devoted to the great work being done between Paradise Valley School District in Arizona and the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary in Virginia (Alma Mater, Hail!) In one article from this issue, the author described the collaboration as beneficial on several fronts:
“This collaboration can be characterized as a win-win situation for both parties, as well as to the field of gifted education... For all the teachers and the students, participating in a research university collaboration is a compelling learning experience. As a teacher, the benefit of being involved in a research project is able to provide authentic input that can then be used to effect real change...The gifted department and its teachers have the opportunity to help a university research project that will potentially impact many more students. An additional benefit of the collaboration is that teachers are able to receive immediate feedback from experts on the curriculum and in the field of gifted education through observations, discourse, focus groups, and collaboration of our effectiveness in the utilization of the program and its components. Through this opportunity, we as teachers can have a deeper understanding of the intent of the lesson, unit, or curriculum models from the curriculum developers. In addition, we can participate in a dialogue about the curriculum that provides researchers with the perspective of both teachers and students. The students also benefit from this process of observation and feedback. It is exciting for them to have faculty come in and observe how they learn, think, collaborate, and develop their understanding as gifted learners. They see this as an honor and privilege to be selected to help other future gifted students in this country” (West Keur, 2019, p. 91).
Reflecting on trips near and far, collaboration, and community service, I was inspired to email my local district, where my own children go to school (the typical gifted, the 2e, and, well, the 'we'll see') and say "how can I help?"
In service to gifted kiddos near and far,