I recently came across an article in the Examiner about one district's efforts to give its gifted program teachers special certification. You can read the piece here. By next school year, all the gifted teachers in Carroll County, a district in Maryland, will have taken a six course sequence through Johns Hopkins (a university with a deep interest in gifted education, thanks to the pioneering efforts of the late Dr. Julian Stanley).
Teacher training is actually one of the biggest problem areas in gifted education. It's also one that's not talked about much. As the Davidsons and I wrote in Genius Denied, there are two main issues.
First, since most gifted children remain in regular classrooms, all teachers need training on how to best teach gifted children, just as they learn about teaching other populations. Yet very few teachers colleges require any courses on gifted learners. Few even offer them.
Second, since we hope that eventually gifted children will be in accelerated academic classes created specifically for them, this country needs a critical mass of teachers specifically certified in gifted ed. Yet many teachers colleges don't offer concentrations in gifted education, and only half the states offer certification in this area.
So it's good that Carroll County is going above the requirements to make sure its teachers know how to best run classrooms of accelerated learners. A Gifted Child Quarterly study a few years ago found that teachers with three to five graduate courses in gifted education were significantly more effective in instruction, and in creating a positive classroom environment, then teachers with no specialized coursework.
In general I'm wary of teachers colleges (they can be ideologically strange places). I'm also wary of requirements that people spend years learning to be teachers (given the shortage of math and science teachers, summer boot camps and night classes for mid-career professionals are probably fine). But I don't like that gifted education gets shut out of programs that almost all teachers have to go through. It's good to see that in Carroll County, they're not.