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International masterclasses

At this page, you'll find a brief overview of some of our international masterclasses. If you have any questions or if you want to discuss the opportunity for a bespoke masterclass, feel free to contact us.

  1. Underachievement and executive skills
  2. Able learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders
  3. Able learners with ADHD
  4. Twice-exceptional learners: 1+1=3
  5. Twice-exceptional learners, executive skills and 21st-Century skills
  6. Giftedness and inclusion, a paradigm shift towards differentiation

1: Underachievement and executive skills
Not all able learners actualise their potential according to expectations. Some of them are what are called dual and multiple exceptional (Webb, et al., 2005). They have a high learning potential but are also hindered by a (specific) learning disability. Due to their high learning potential, they can compensate for the effects of their learning disability. This makes them very difficult to recognise as dual and multiple exceptional learners. Other dual and multiple exceptional learners are hindered by their disability in a way that the traits of being an able learner stay camouflaged. Lastly, but not least, there are dual and multiple exceptional students for whom the combination of learning disability and high learning potential seemingly equal out; they become ‘invisible’ to their teachers (Kroesbergen, 2016; Weterings, 2016). Responding meaningfully and effectively to the educational needs of dual and multiple exceptional learners is difficult if only one of the challenges is addressed (Van Gerven, 2016).
A combination of three proven strategies underpins the approach in this masterclass. The strategy of Response to Intervention is known to be effective for all four developmental domains: cognitive, academic, intrapersonal, and interpersonal (Trail, 2011; Troxclair, 2015; Robertson & Pfeiffer, 2016). This strategy becomes even more effective if a solution-focused approach is applied. This systematic approach leads to student empowerment (Pameijer & Van Beukering, 2007). By involving all actors in the student’s ecological system, the chance of successful intervention will increase (Van Meersbergen & De Vries, 2013). Case studies on the approach are included in this masterclass. 
Executive function abilities have been proven to be a better indicator for school success than intelligence tests (Gathercole & Alloway, 2013; Veenman, 2013). Students who display good executive skills and who, because of the use of these skills, are high achievers, will be more likely to be recognised at an earlier stage as able learners by their teachers than able learners who lack these skills (Kornmann, Zettler, Kammerer, Gerjets & Trautwein, 2015). This has consequences for the educational interventions teachers provide for their students. High achievers (students having excellent executive skills), are more likely to be selected for enrichment activities than students who are underachieving (van Gerven, 2014).
There exists an educational relationship between the development of executive skills and the curriculum provided (Cooper-Kahn & Foster, 2014). Executive skills can only be developed if the curriculum stimulates a student to reach out to the zone of proximal development (Kroesbergen, Verkaik & Van Gerven, 2016). A learning process from being consciously incompetent towards becoming consciously competent requires the use of these executive skills (Dawson & Guare, 2009). The more complex the task, the more executive skills are necessary to perform at a high level (Marzano & Kendall, 2007). An underachieving able learner who has problems developing good executive skills, will not develop these skills if he or she is denied participation in enrichment activities. On the other hand, an able learner who has not developed these skills will experience difficulties during his or her learning process and will only be able to perform at a higher level if additional support is provided. This support is quite often not available when it comes to enrichment activities in the mainstream classroom. This causes able learners not only to fail but also prevents them from developing the necessary skills for becoming “successfully intelligent”. The mutual influence between ability and education on the developmental process of executive skills is therefore one of the most important factors in preventing or overcoming underachievement (Van Gerven, 2017).

2: Able learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders
“Able Learners with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)” is an advanced level masterclass. This session will integrate theory with practice for teachers, helping them to understand the educational needs of able learners with ASD. It clarifies how the actors in the student’s ecological system can implement strategies that respond effectively to the learners’ needs. Participants learn to apply presented strategies; how to use a questionnaire to gain specific information; acquire an understanding of the need for different perspectives; and learn how to use all this to tune in to the educational needs of their AL & ASD student. All interventions can be applied in the mainstream classroom as well as in small group withdrawal sessions. 
Being an able learner and having ASD are both concepts in which observed behaviour within a normative context forms the foundation for the classification. Each trait can be placed on a continuum (Van Gerven, 2016). Due to the fact that there is a mutual influence between the characteristics of an able learner and the characteristics of ASD, a unique profile of individual weaknesses and strengths occurs for every able learner who also shows signs of having ASD. (Amend et al, 2009; Assouline et al, 2008). Indicating behaviour for this profile can be observed.
If all the actors of the child’s ecological system observe the child from their personal perspective, and from the context in which they meet the child, it is highly unlikely that there will be a perfect match between what each actor observes. (Van Gerven & Drent, 2004-2016; Van Gerven, 2015; Van Gerven, 2016; Van Gerven & Weterings, 2014; Van der Wolf & Van Beukering, 2012). Differences are caused by the fact that, as an observer, you not only look at the child’s behaviour, but that you also have your own mental framework that interprets this behaviour. In addition to the observer’s bias towards the situation, the context in which the observation takes place impacts on the interpretation of what is observed.
In modern education, the influence of 21st Century skills increases rapidly. Although there might be a good match between the educational needs of able learners and a didactical approach based on 21st Century skills, for an AL & ASD student this modern approach does not come without obstacles (van Gerven, 2016). The uniqueness of this student’s profile of strengths and weaknesses influences how these modern didactics can be applied successfully.

3: Able learners with ADHD
“Able learners with ADHD” is an advanced level masterclass. It integrates theory with practice for teachers, helping them to support able learners (AL) with ADHD to become “successfully intelligent thinkers.” Teachers will learn how to address the strengths and weaknesses of both AL and ADHD to most effectively provide for this population's unique learning needs. In this masterclass, participants learn to apply presented strategies to create their own AL & ADHD toolkit; acquire a perspective and understanding of dual and multiple exceptional learners who have both high learning potential and ADHD; and learn to prioritise educational needs for selecting the best interventions.
The lack of executive skills, a neurobiological deficit, hinders able learners with ADHD. As a result, they are unable to benefit from their intellectual potential or live up to the expectations created by their intellectual abilities (Van Gerven, 2016). Actors in the student's ecological system (i.e. teachers, parents, peers and the students themselves) are confronted with the results of the students’ mixed abilities in relation to their educational experiences (Trail, 2011). The student may not achieve highly and social-emotional and behavioural problems are likely to occur (Moon, 2002). In this context, it is unfair to label these students as able underachievers as the lack of intellectual/academic achievements are the result of a misfit between ability, disability, and an educational approach, not ‘just’ the behavioural result of a mismatch between being gifted and the educational system (Reiss & McCoach, 2002).
The Change-Oriented Approach is based on a combination of two strategies: Response to Intervention (RtI) and the Solution Focused Approach (Van Gerven, 2015). This approach can be helpful for teachers. Based on already acquired and basic teacher competences, it creates opportunities to adjust their teaching strategies to the AL & ADHD student’s needs in the mainstream classroom (Van Gerven & Troxclair, 2017).

4: Twice-exceptional learners: 1+1=3
Dual and multiple exceptional students experience problems as a result of being gifted and having a learning disability. This results in unique social-emotional and/or behavioural problems. In this session, participants will explore a solutions-focused approach, based on the concept of Response to Intervention (RtI), for teachers to use when coaching dual and multiple exceptional students.
Participants identify the clash between being gifted and having a learning, emotional, or behavioural disability; explore the perspectives of interventions within a student’s ecological system; and create a series of coherent interventions appropriate for the gaps which are of concern within the student's ecological system. 
Not all able learners actualise their potential according to expectations. Some of them are what are called dual and multiple exceptional (Webb, et al., 2005). They have a high learning potential but are also hindered by a (specific) learning disability. Due to their high learning potential, they can compensate for the effects of their learning disability. This makes them very difficult to recognise as dual and multiple exceptional learners. Other dual and multiple exceptional learners are hindered by their disability in a way that the traits of being an able learner stay camouflaged. Lastly, but not least, there are dual and multiple exceptional students for whom the combination of learning disability and high learning potential seemingly equal out; they become ‘invisible’ to their teachers (Kroesbergen, 2016; Weterings, 2016). Responding meaningfully and effectively to the educational needs of dual and multiple exceptional learners is difficult if only one of the challenges is addressed (Van Gerven, 2016).
A combination of three proven strategies underpins the approach in this masterclass. The strategy of Response to Intervention is known to be effective for all four developmental domains: cognitive, academic, intrapersonal, and interpersonal (Trail, 2011; Troxclair, 2015; Robertson & Pfeiffer, 2016). This strategy becomes even more effective if a solution-focused approach is applied. This systematic approach leads to student empowerment (Pameijer & Van Beukering, 2007). By involving all actors in the student’s ecological system, the chance of successful intervention will increase (Van Meersbergen & De Vries, 2013). Case studies on the approach are included in this masterclass.

5: Twice-exceptional learners, executive skills and 21st-Century skills
Twice-exceptional (or dual exceptional) children are children with a high IQ combined with a learning or developmental disability. In education, these children feel themselves confronted with two seemingly discordant sides of themselves. On the one hand, they experience the opportunities their IQ opens up for them in the domains not affected by the disability. On the other hand, in the domains affected by the disability these children experience significant limitations. These limitations prevent them from learning at the same pace and at the same achievement levels as in the domains that are not affected. Consequently, four domains of risk and resiliency show strengths and weaknesses influencing the child’s opportunity for self-actualisation. Learning becomes unexpectedly difficult for these students. The intrapersonal discrepancy leaves them confused and frustrated. The clash between ability and disability is a harsh one as the use of compensation strategies wears them out. 
Each twice-exceptional child has an individual educational profile, but there is one thing that they all share: the development of their executive skills is under duress. Children with ADHD or ASD have problems developing these skills because of the neurological deficits that come along with the disability. How to become organised if you have trouble taking on a helicopter view and drown in details by nature. How to stay on track with your tasks if you capability to focus is limited, or the need to move is bigger than the ability to suppress dominant responses? Children with dyslexia or dyscalculia might develop problems with executive skills due to the educational consequences of the learning disability. How to initiate working on a task if you have a low self-efficacy based on previous experiences? How to regulate your emotions when you fail time after time?
In current education, the development of 21st Century skills is a hot topic. Based on the traits of highly able children this can be a very effective educational strategy. However, based on the traits of having a learning or developmental disability, this can be the most frustrating experience in education ever because 21stCentury skills call on all their weaknesses.
In this masterclass, we explore how twice-exceptional children get stuck in this didactical approach. Together we figure out what interventions might come in helpful and are easy to apply. You will discover how your current professional intervention repertoire can be used slightly differently for these particular students and in a way that benefits all your students as well. 

6: Giftedness and inclusion, a paradigm shift towards differentiation
Inclusion in education is basically nothing more or less than ensuring that every student gets the opportunity to develop himself and to become a qualified and socialised member of the society. In daily practice in education, this means that we have to ensure that every student gets the opportunity to learn: academically, socially, emotionally and physically. We do this with respect to individual differences in abilities and talents. Although it is never easy, we can see, understand and respond meaningfully to the educational needs of most of our students.
However, when it comes to the highly able or gifted students, we might feel a bit uncomfortable. Should our attention not be focused on students who otherwise might be left behind? We do understand that sports talents or musical and dramatical arts talents have different needs in order to develop their potential. But the academically gifted, do they really have needs that we should address differently? Why should we provide special attention for the academically gifted in our regular classrooms? Are we not creating an educational elite if we open special programmes for the gifted? If they are gifted, why do they need our special attention? Is being gifted not the same as being self-supportive in education?
In this masterclass, the education of gifted students will be addressed from an inclusive perspective. We discuss three perspectives on giftedness. We travel through theory departing from “The Gifted Child Paradigm” with a focus on the identification of the gifted child, via “The Talent Development Paradigm” with a focus on recognising special talents, towards “ The Differention Paradigm” where educational needs and not a student’s label define meaningful educational responses. Each paradigm has different consequences for the educational practice. Being able to recognise and to understand these consequences offers the opportunity for a modern approach with respect for the student and the teacher.

 

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