Khris Haslund

KHRIS HASLUND

Hi, my name is Khris Haslund, and I’m a school wide enrichment model specialist in Sa Paul---in St. Paul, Minnesota. And it’s a K through 6 arts maintenance school, and in the inner city. And I’ve been there, it’s a new program, it’s called a A-Plus model, and it’s a new program, and I’ve been there for six years now. I’m also a member of the National Association for Gifted Children, a teacher board member, and that I work with a creativity division and the curriculum divisions also.

Well, there’s an easy one. Um I don’t think there’s any one answer for um---who
I’d li---gifted. Um---I think you need, well for sure multiple criteria, and also it might be depended, like, who you’re speaking with. Um---I also believe---I was trained um---at the University of Connecticut with Joe Ramsey (chuckles while saying last name), so I definitely believe in three rings of giftedness with above average ability, creativity, and um---I know this---and, you know, task commitment as being the other hur---as---it---the other one of the rings. Um---for example---um--- (long pause)---um, how about somebody gifted---in---how---about them doing the classroom? (Long pause) I think, could you reiterate the second half of the question again?

Well, when I work with them out of the---out of the---as a fourth grade teacher and a second grade teacher, and a junior kindergarten teacher, and even with four-year-olds, you could tell---um---who were the kids who would need special services. A lot of the time I really look for the creativity part, and also the verbal precocity, and, um---just, maybe the quick wittedness, but also I think you have to look for the---the---um---not th---not underachieving, I’m not saying, but the quieter---the quieter student also, who---um---maybe is sitting on their talents, who just don’t express them verbally, I think.

Oh boy, well when a teacher is---has---um---like, twenty-eight students or thirty-four students, an---and I’m also speaking from the point of view of the elementary school teacher, they already have their hands full because they have kids, the wide range of kids. Um---in our schools we have a lot of second language speakers, we have a large population of Mung students, kids from Laos and Cambodia, and---um---so---if they’re---are from a second language family home, that’s---but I also have those kids in the gifted and talented program, not to say that they’re not, but there’s such a wide range of this wide range of kids. And---um---it has to do with lower socio-economic status of some of the kids who haven’t had the opportunities in so---it---a classroom can run the whole gambit. Um---and---this---and the teacher has to be able to modify, or differentiate the curriculum for all the needs of those kids. I think that’s the---that’s the toughest job.

Well, I think from a students perspective, I think they just really need---um---to be grouped with---um---a---like peers. So like, ability group for at least some time of the day, even if it’s just for using that one hour sinow (?) for example, they need that challenge, they need the challenge all the time in that polo group---it---also in the classroom where they’ve spend probably, you know, the greater percentage of their time. And---um---they need---if you have open-ended---um---questions so they can use the inquiry, and they need the time to do independence projects, and not---um---like, always be in, like, cooperative groups, for example.

Well, I think---um---for successful programs, I think you need it---a collaboration where the students definitely have a chance to do their interest, maybe use a interest analyzer, or just find out what their passions are, and then----oops, it almost brings in a little bit of the standards, but I make sure the standards doesn’t take away---um---so the kids can still do their interests. But I think it’s like a team in approach so that you know, a good teacher will know the parents, and also, know the students plus build a---work with the staff that works with those kids. And also---um---my program as a A-Plus model, and we use a lot of collaboration also with the community, bringing in the community, bringing in arts partnerships, bringing in business partnerships, and so that the kids can get a wider---a wider---a---range, they can get the real world---bring the real world into them. Um---it’s definitely not the skill and drill type of instruction of the past.

Well, I need to tell you that most of my experience has been with---um---like K-8, but especially kindergarten through sixth grade. So I can speak a little bit to the secondary---the needs of a secondary student---um---I know that---I think, even from age, almost eighth grade, they’re worrying about the college prep, if that’s the track they’re gonna take. And those---the gifted teachers then would be working on---a---we have a large international baccalaureate program in my district. Actually three high schools out of seven, in my district, are international baccalaureates and---and the advance placement classes the kids need to take, I know, a program called Quest, which doesn’t stand for anything, it’s just the extra challenge program---um---is one way for those gifted kids. At the elementary level I think we probably us more than---acceleration, we probably more use an enrichment---um---type of plan---um---to---a---meet the needs of those kids---um---not---not as many acceleration type of---like---modifications are probably done. So---it---it---I’m not saying it’s a---it’s not wimpier---um---at the elementary, but---um---maybe it doesn’t feel as serious---um---just because college just seems farther off. I’m working with kindergarteners a lot, so, I know there’s things that they that those twelfth graders wouldn’t.

Well, I just think that’s where the foundation skills, I think, really happen. Um---I work a lot with---um---like creativity, and I work with, make sure, like---the---they---are----already by then they’re working on---a---the upper level of bloom texts, (?) we tr---really try to get past, like, the comprehension and knowledge. And actually I think sometimes those little kids are working at higher ends---a---thinking too, maybe---a---maybe---I---I’m not saying the older kids are given up by then, you know, going back to comprehension knowledge, but---a---I---little guys are doing that too---um---doing like---the questions that they ask, I think.

Well, the amount parents, I’m not a parent myself, I just have three challenging dogs to take care of, and---um---for parents, I just think give ‘em not---not too many of the push---not to the pushing but just give ‘em experiences. Um, I was real---as a kid I just know what my parents did for me. Like in the ‘50s and ‘60s growing up, what they could provide then and just um---getting real world experiences. And also the parents, or it’s a guardian, then, you know, maybe get the kids into like---um---4H or girl scouts or boys or girls club where they can find a mentor. E---so the little---the little guys can---um---if the families can’t give ‘em there’s a lot a programs, get him in touch with ---um---those resources of the materials are. Just great places to go so that they can just get a broader base of experiences. I think it just---that just---they can really help with that, I think. And also then not to push and let ‘em---let ‘em be, and also let ‘em go with their passions too. Like, if they’re interested (Laughs) in chemistry in second grade like I was, you know, get ‘em that little chemistry set. And if they move on to puppets in third grade then start ‘em on puppets then---and let ‘em---samples, make life a smorgasbord and sample. And just (Laughs) do a lot of sampling I guess.

Well, at my school we use---we---u---use parents a lot in the classrooms, um---and it’s not just like for field trips or checking your papers or working in book orders. You really try to a---um---get them on to teams and they’re on a lot of our committees, our curriculum team, or school climate team, or on prepared 2000 team, I think that’s what it’s called. And um---they help, oo---they---they’re like a guiding force to, we really listen to ‘em, so it’s not a---a them and us kind of experience. And I use ‘em a lot in my gifted program, they’ll volunteer, um---they’ll, you know, they’ll---give---they’ll give you money for materials and do extra donations, and they ---a---just do a lot of support. And sometimes it’s kind of like um---a football team, like I’m not saying I’m the great quarterback, but, they run interference, they run that front line interference sometimes. It’s almost---sometimes it’s some other parents, or teacher, so that I can take---the kid, I guess would be the ball, in that analogy, then---and like---you know---get that kids towards the goal without---um---just letting me be able to do my job without having any of that---of that little kind of stuff that happens school, get in the way. They run interference, I guess.

Well, I really like it---I---um---but, interdisciplinary and in collaboration, I’ve been in different situations that---um---in one school I was a gifted specialist. I had been a classroom teacher, and so I was like a retread, and it was tougher for my peers ---um---it wasn’t becoming a supervisor r---role, but it---I was out of the classroom that’s when you’re a specialist you just kind of a different experience, so being a retread was one---one phase I went through. Another one was walking into a school of really established---um---high powered school, and there was some dinosaur teachers there that um---kind a didn’t like some of the projects I was working on, cause it was a little---um---um---to---me---not---not far out, but it was---it was probably cutting edge, best---practices that they weren’t used to. And they thought I was a flash-in-the-pan and I’d go away, but then they made inroads into them. The school that I’m at now---um---I got to be on the ground floor of it, I helped set it up. And this program, it was the first one in Minnesota, this A-Plus school, and so that’s been a whole lot different, cause all the staff development could be done at ground zero, and this---not all the teachers still there, but we’ve---they’ve grown up with the idea. And if I forget one of the facets of the program that we started earlier, for example, like enrichment clausiers (?), where the whole school gets to go. It’s not mini courses, but it’s um---interests of the teacher and the kids, and the whole s---we only have like 375 kids, but they all move at once into like, maybe like about 36 different classes. And they’re self-chosen classes, and, if I forget t---if I forget that oh, we do that every year, a teacher will remind me that, oh yeah, what about enrichment clausiers (?), so they’ve grown up with it. And then as new staff comes on board we make sure that they understand, I do ‘em watch that film and---to make sure they understand and---and a word club, to tha---we try to ---um---squeak in as much, well---I drive to school in the dark and drive home in the dark and---every day, and um---we try to collaborate before or after or um---during, when they have their prep times. Or I eat lunch on the road, or on the run all the time to---so that we can get more time. And we try to give staff implementing time---days, and---or arrange for substitutes so we can---um talk and---and um---I guess it’s kind a like, instead of going um---ready, aim, fire, like people used to do, now we’re trying to go like aim, ready, fire. It’s like fear of what we wanna do, and then---and then do the delivery, I guess.

Oh, my gosh. Um---I think one of the things I’ve learned from gifted children---at first thing I was gonna say is---is don’t give up on your passions, is what I was gonna say at first. Is that um---find a way to be advocate for yourself, if you can, and you are a---small, little, tiny little kid um---I have a kindergartener who, a guy named Isaac, and every morning I see him he says: so, am I gonna see ya today? An then---I---he’s this little tiny five-year-old a---is---is making me remember, all right, oh my gosh, yeah Isaac, I’ll---I’ll see ya. Um---I think to---to---um---let your voice be heard, and like, follow your passions and also the curiosity part an---into---and that sense of wonder. Um---that’s what I think is so great about um--- I just had a opportunity a last week I turned down a job that was gonna be in administration, um---cause I couldn’t leave---I couldn’t leave the kids mid-year, and I also, just didn’t wanna um---leave the kids at that level. I’m sure that administrators are doing great things up above, but a---I think it’s being with the kids, and also the energy part, and---um---ju---made---well---jus---just the wonder, and---and not letting school, just making school a---just a great---find the great places about school, or the great things about school, I think.

Well, if I could change the schools, I think I’d make sure that all the schools, like, address, like, multiple intelligences. Um, we do at my school, and I’m---we have---you know you have---a---art teachers and dance teachers and drama teachers and um---music teachers, did I say that one, and literary art specials and---and---um---we don’t---I kind of do the naturalist part, I---intelligence, I think. Give it to kids um---a chance to do---be the interpersonal type a kid, or the intrapersonal type a kid. And also, I just think um---it has to---a differentiation, I think, is that um---don’t let the standards um---like kill what you’re passion about teaching. Like find a way to incorporate it, and like keep the creativity. Mostly my passions are for creativity, c---an keep that in the program, for--- like find ways to add pizzazz, make sure there’s pizzazz, or like a serendipity in the kids---d---in the kids day, in your day as a teacher an---and in the kids day. And um---and do it like, watch out for the dinosaurs, like don’t let the dinosaurs, you know, run---run the school. I know there’ll be a lot of retirement, but the dinosaurs are not---on t---the sixty-year-old teachers. Some of those did, like the twenty-four-year-old teachers just coming on with pre-service, or coming on to their, you know, college experiences that---something happened to ‘em alo---like already along the way, I think is---and you remember there’s a---and just remember that the schools are for the kids. Um---we---we’re just luck to be there collecting a pretty good salary, and it’s um---like their turn to get a---if we didn’t get it in the ‘50s or ‘60s or’70s is our turn to a---um---let---just do the best practices an---um---like for the kids I think.