Filed under: NYC Gifted and Talented Program | Tags: NYC Gifted and Talented
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I attended the NYC DOE gifted and talented session this past Thursday night on the UWS at Louis D. Brandeis High School (84th and Amsterdam). I arrived a bit late due to MTA delays on the 2 train but finally showed up around 7:15pm (the session started at 6:30pm). As I walked into the front entrance droves of people sweating bullets were rampaging out the door. At first I thought the information must be over or maybe the parents discovered their child wasn’t G&T material after all. To my surprise the mass exodus was due to the amount of people packed like sardines in the auditorium with temperatures that seemed in excess of 80 degrees.
As I paced into the auditorium with my camera the presenter from the DOE gave a PowerPoint presentation to the audience. I didn’t catch her name since I showed up late for the session. The flow of the presentation seemed a bit choppy as audience members randomly shouted out questions with really no crowd control in place for the questions. Finally the presenter told everyone to keep their questions to the end of the presentation as the crowd gave a small ovation to the request.
I have to admit I was a tad disappointed with the session because of the set-up (especially the heat!). I think the DOE tried to make the session informative but probably didn’t expect this type of response from so many attending. This was the only information held in Manhattan and it might have been good to have another information session in Manhattan that would be easier for parents (like me) to attend that live below Houston. Luckily, I’m in position where I know most (if not all) of the information shared at the session due to my experience with the gifted and talented program here in New York but most who attended probably are not. I did sense a tad frustration from parents at the session who seemed to be new to the NYC gifted and talented extravaganza!
Here are a few of the comments parents said about the Manhattan information session for G&T:
“All the information they shared is already on their web site and I really didn’t find out something I already knew.”
“I didn’t realize there were so many people in Manhattan interested in this program”
“I had a specific question about transportation but they never answered my question”.
On the up side, the DEO did have 3 representatives in the lobby outside the auditorium to answer questions from parents one-on-one. The DOE printed copies of the G&T handbooks that are available on line. I didn’t see many parents take the books but I assume most probably downloaded it themselves prior to the meeting or possibly picked up the handbooks at the beginning of the session prior to my arrival. There were also people from Bright Kids NYC outside of the school promoting their OLSAT test prep service to perspective G&T parents.
I also received updates from parents who attended the NYC gifted and talented program information sessions in Queens and Brooklyn. Here are the comments from those sessions:
From Parents who attend the G&T information session in Queens:
“Since the info session answered most of my questions, but not all, I’d rate it at an 8 out of 10.”
“The crowd certainly reflected the diversity of Queens and every ethnic group was represented.”
“The presentation was centered around the application process and enrollment, but not the program itself. When asked about the benefits of the program itself they only pointed out the benefit of having a classroom full of high achievers. They also stated that it was up to the individual teachers to modify and adapt the program to meet the needs of gifted children. They encouraged parents to contact the schools directly to find out more about the individual programs.”
“The high school auditorium was packed with people standing. Many people brought their children with them, which surprised me because I was expecting a room full of parents.”
From Parents who attend the G&T information session in Brooklyn:
“It was pretty crowded, but given the number of parents in Brooklyn with kids I was surprised they were only having one meeting per borough.”
“I would say it (the information session) was useful because you got most of the essential information, deadlines and dates, the basics about the two tests, the procedures and processes about applying for the test and then maybe subsequently a G & T program, the differences between district programs and Citywide programs, etc.”
1. There should be a “first come, first seated” policy on seating. When it’s full don’t allow anyone else into the session.
2. Make sure the facility doesn’t get too hot. Parents are already on edge to begin with so the heat during this session just added to the anxiety levels.
3. Start the gifted and talented information sessions later than 6:30pm. Many people work until 6pm or 7pm so getting to the school in time for the G&T information session by 6:30pm could be difficult for some.
4. Present additional information about the gifted and talented program that people wouldn’t be able to get online.
5. Distribute FAQs at the beginning of the meeting so parents can review those questions and answers during the presentation.
6. Hold audience Q&A at the end and have people line up on the side for their questions. There should be a microphone to speak into so everyone can hear the questions instead of the presenter shouting and repeating the question to the audience.
7. For any answers available online refer parents to online instead of addressing those questions.
8. Conduct more gifted and talented information sessions in Manhattan and other boroughs.
9. Allow parents who have gone through the gifted and talented testing process with their children give a presentation to the audience
10. Have the information session as a live webcast or taped webinar. Many people have small children at home and can’t find babysitters during weekdays.
I like to hear from other parents who attend the G&T information to see what you thought about the information sessions. Also, if you’d like to sign-up for my FREE gifted and talented newsletter email me at email@example.com. Thanks – Michael
P.S. – I also cross-post on Gothamschools.org – check it out!
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