This year, our school is participating in a professional development on educating gifted students, particularly those identified as Academically or Intellectually Gifted (AIG). Last week in our first session, we talked about several perspectives on giftedness. One I found fascinating was Kazimierz Dabrowski's Theory of Emotional Development and the concept of overexcitabilities (OEs). (Here's a post that summarizes the theory if it's also new to you.) Basically, this framework characterizes giftedness as a higher than average responsiveness to stimuli that makes concrete stimuli more complex with greater emotional content, essentially amplifying every experience (Ackerman, 2009).
As an administrator, I often encounter students who are demonstrating what could be characterized as one or more of the five types of OEs - psychomotor, sensual, imaginational, intellectual, or emotional - because their significant and/or dramatic responses to events, environment, or peers create disruptions to the classroom activities. Prior to learning of Dabrowski's theory, I never thought of the behaviors in those moments as evidence of giftedness. While I don't want to rush my next classroom disruption, I am curious to see how my teachers and I may respond in such a situation, armed with this new learning. We cannot and will not allow students to interfere in the learning of their peers, however, as we deal with individuals in need of support, perhaps our strategies can reflect a response to potential giftedness.
Ackerman, C. M. (2009). The Essential Elements of Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration and How They are Connected. Roeper Review. 31 (2). 81-95.