Hidden in Plain Sight: Identifying and Challenging the Hidden Gifted Underachiever

hidden underachieverHave you ever gone around the house searching in earnest for your keys, only to realize that they’ve been in your hand throughout the quest?

Or maybe you’ve asked someone if they’ve seen your sunglasses, as their eyes dart up to the top of your head where, yes indeed, your sunglasses have been patiently waiting to reveal your age.

Like those keys and sunglasses, sometimes gifted underachievers slip right past us unnoticed.

In her 6-hour course, “Challenging the “Hidden” Gifted Underachiever,” Carolyn Coil, Ed.D., shines a light on a specific type of underachiever that is gifted enough to avoid being identified as gifted!

Carlyn Coil is a former teacher, adjunct professor, and resource specialist. She is an internationally known speaker, author, trainer and consultant. Dr. Coil focuses on Response to Intervention (RtI) monitoring strategies, implementing differentiation in the classroom, raising student achievement, and applying assessment strategies. She also covers the challenges associated with preparing ourselves and our children for living and working in the 21st century.

Five Types of Gifted Underachiever

Dr. Coil describes the five types of underachievers you’re likely to encounter:

  1. The “March to the beat of my own drummer”
    This is your classic gifted underachiever. This student turns in a completely brilliant assignment that couldn’t be further from the parameters you laid out. Sometimes this underachiever simply doesn’t turn in work because, hey, they don’t like your assignments! The mantra here is “the rules don’t apply to me.”
  2. Female at adolescence
    You’ve met this underachiever. She’s bright, she used to test gifted, and she’s recently blossomed into a lovely…airhead. As hormones and peer pressure creep in, this gifted underachiever has bought the line that boys will like her more if she’s flighty and dumb. The mantra here is “smart equals not cool.”
  3. Problems/concerns outside of school
    hidden underachiever
    This one’s a toughie. Dr. Coil expresses that problems outside of school is becoming the most common reason for gifted underachievement, as the economy continues to struggle. When negative circumstances build pressure on and around a student, the easiest outlets for anger are sometimes the most reliable sources of structure in their world: the school and teachers. The world looks pretty hopeless to this underachiever. The mantra here is “I’m defeated, and I’m only x years old.”
  4. Class clown
    On a lighter note, the class clown craves an audience. This gifted underachiever never misses a day and never misses a beat. You’ll wonder why he/she can’t channel that gifted wit into gifted work!
  5. Hidden underachiever
    hidden underachiever
    Here’s Dr. Coil’s main subject. You may not even realize this student is gifted, because he/she is bright enough to identify the least amount of effort required to get by, and that is all. The hidden gifted underachiever is common, and certainly capable of great things; but great things require work and structure that just don’t fit into his/her preferred framework of big dreaming. The mantra here is, “I don’t have to work hard to get good grades, so why should I?”

Bringing the Hidden Underachiever Out of Hiding

A real issue with a hidden gifted underachiever is that if they never push their limits, their big dreams won’t become reality. Without the study, time management, and organizational skills that come from leaning into their giftedness, they will flounder at the first setback.

Building these skills is the foundation of challenging the hidden gifted underachiever. Dr. Coil illuminates that we have to assess students’ abilities in organization and study skills, and have a plan for teaching these skills.

“Be intentional about teaching such skills. Many gifted underachievers lack these skills essential for school success,”—Carolyn Coil.

She also recommends:

  • Providing ways for hidden underachievers to track their own progress
  • Encouraging them to beat their own personal best. This may be the best way to get them to increase their production
  • Recognizing and praising their efforts when they increase rigor, depth and complexity in learning when they would rather do the easiest option while putting forth little effort

But Wait, There’s More!

If you’re ready to uncover hidden gifted underachievers or better challenge the other four types of underachiever in your classroom, “Challenging the ‘Hidden’ Gifted Underachiever” will give you the skills and inspiration to get them motivated to grow!

Click here to get started!

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Photos courtesy of Flickr via Hvnly, Katie Tegtmeyer, and marc falardeau.