Previously, I've discussed how there can be difficulties in identifying gifted children in a classroom based on several factors. However, giftedness itself can lead to problems in identification. The following list, from Gifted Children Monthly, Feb. 1988, is summarized at this page. I've also added personal notes to the list, showing how teachers often perceive this behavior.
Gifted Traits Can Cause Classroom Problems
High verbal ability, unusually large vocabulary
The child seems older and more mature than he or she is, leading to unrealistic expectations on the part of the teacher; has difficulty developing listening skills; uses this verbal gift to manipulate or dominate others.
The child presents problems primary teachers who may not know where to begin to meet the child's language arts development.
A questioning attitude
The child questions authority as well as rules, regulations, and generally accepted facts; teacher may feel threatened, which could result in hostile feelings towards child.
NOTE: Can be viewed as oppositional defiance disorder.
Keen powers of observation
The child sees through sham and pretense; teacher must be secure enough to admit he or she does not know something.
NOTE: Another one for the oppositional defiance disorder checklist.
Long attention span, persistence, intense concentration
The child is unable to go on to a new activity; becomes oblivious to everything and everyone around, sometimes missing explanations, directions or assignments.
NOTE: The behavior can be sometimes mistaken for both autistic spectrum disorders ("rigid thinking", "can't handle transitions", "stuck in his/her own world", etc.) or ADD/ADHD when the child isn't paying attention.
Ability to learn basic skills more quickly and easily, and retain much information with less repetition.
The child resists drill and repetition, becomes impatient with those who do not learn as quickly; devours material almost as fast as the teacher prepares it.
NOTE: When the child resists drill and repetition, many teachers don't understand that the child feels they are wasting their time. They assume the child doesn't know and is actually behind other students. When the resistance becomes too great, labels like oppositional defiance disorder begin showing up.
Wide range of interests
The child leaves activities incomplete.
NOTE: Another ADD/ADHD behavior.
Very narrow interests
The child sticks to things he or she knows or does best, unwilling to risk trying new things; signals perfectionistic tendencies.
NOTE: This is very often misunderstood as the "circumscribed interests" attributed to individuals with autistic spectrum disorders, most often Asperger's Syndrome.
Creativeness, originality, putting ideas and things together in novel ways
The child is seen as being nonconformist or rebellious, even "wierd".
NOTE: Gifted children may try to answer questions creatively, but don't give the "right" answer. The teacher then assumes the child doesn't understand the material. This can be alleviated by probing into the reasons why the child answers the way he or she does.
Unusual, often highly developed sense of humor
The child sees humor in situations that escapes others; sometimes leads to judgements of inappropriateness by others.
NOTE: Another trait often mistaken for autistic spectrum disorders.
Ability to see relationships, make connections
The child makes intuitive leaps which can exasperate teachers who insist on step-by-step procedures.
The child is often overly sensitive, taking minor jokes or teasing too seriously; has feelings easily hurt.
NOTE: This issue is especially difficult for boys, who are expected to not display emotions or reactions to such teasing.
High energy level
The child cannot sit or wait quietly; is impatient; seems to have inherent need to be constantly engaged in activity; becomes bored, sometimes disruptive; can exhaust teacher.
NOTE: This sounds like every child diagnosed with ADHD.
The child has difficulty working with others on group probjects or activities requiring cooperative effort; usually prevers working alone, doing it his or her own way.
NOTE: This can contribute to beliefs that the child suffers from oppositional defiance disorder or autistic spectrum disorders, depending on how the child handles social situations. The same is true of the next point.
The child does not develop appropriate social skills, which leads to more isolation.