Motivating the Gifted Underachiever

What to Do When Potential Gets Sidetracked

motivating the gifted underachieverWatching a monarch butterfly unfurl its iconic rust and black wings is a surprisingly profound experience.

But, the moment shifts abruptly when it becomes clear that something went wrong early on. The wings are stunted; this stunning creature is not destined to make the epic monarch migration.

A similar tragedy can happen when a gifted student faces insecurity, hurt, or isolation. Where there is potential for a great unfurling of talent and ability, we are surprised to find a stunted, gifted underachiever.

How do you identify when a gifted student isn’t meeting his/her potential?

What can you do to give them confidence in their exceptional talents and abilities?

In the 1-hour course, “Motivating the Gifted Underachiever,” Lori Comallie-Caplan explains the common elements that turn a gifted student into a gifted underachiever, and what you can do to motivate them to unlock their potential.

Ms. Comallie-Caplan is a New Mexico Licensed Master Social Worker, a Licensed Educational Diagnostician with a Masters Degree in Psychological Counseling. She is best known for her work with gifted individuals and frequently provides professional development for school districts and mental health professionals in the social emotional needs of the gifted.

What’s a Smart Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This?

motivating the gifted underachieverWith the world at their fingertips, gifted students have the potential ability to change the course of human events.

So why would they choose to diminish their performance in the classroom?

There are several common elements to de-motivation, and distinct types of underachievers. Ms. Comallie-Caplan breaks down the following elements in this course:

  • Frequent reasons for underachievement
  • The difference between selective achievement and underachievement
  • How to recognize different types of underachievers
  • How to motivate each type of gifted underachiever

Different Strokes for Unmotivated Folks

motivating the gifted underachieverWould you be surprised to learn that gifted underachievers are not lazy?

Quite the contrary, Ms. Comallie-Caplan finds that gifted underachievers put a tremendous amount of hard work into their efforts!


For some, it’s a defense against possible failure. “If I don’t try, no one can say I failed” is the internal mantra of an “avoidant underachiever.”

Another type of unmotivated student is the “depressed underachiever,” who may feel that within the oppressive framework of power and suffering in the world, there is simply no point in turning in an English paper. It just doesn’t fit within their idealistic framework.

How to Light a Fire Under a Burned Out Student

There are eight distinct types of underachievers described by Ms. Comallie-Caplan, and each has its own set of reasons for missing the mark.

motivating the gifted underachieverShe also addresses the unique set of needs that each requires before he/she can begin to realize his/her potential.

Motivation looks different for each type of gifted underachiever.

For example, it is vital that a teacher never engages in a power struggle with the “oppositional defiant underachiever,” or uses exclusively competitive grading with an “anxious underachiever.”

An “underachiever with identity issues” needs to know that you’re a listening ear while he/she works through developing a sense of self. Motivation to excel is a byproduct of a gifted student who has his/her needs mindfully met.

Motivation for You and Your Gifted Underachiever!

Explore Ms. Comallie-Caplan’s course, “Motivating the Gifted Underachiever.” You will gain a new perspective on those hard-to-motivate students, and a set of tools to help them tap into their full, gifted potential.

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Delivering Quality Training – No Matter Where You Are

Mobile Ready Professional Development GDid you know that this course is mobile ready? That means you can complete the course on your smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer, or any other mobile device!

Images courtesy of Flickr via OakleyOriginals, Britt-knee, Anna Gutermuth, and Nist6dh