Teach to Develop

For teachers:

Because you touch the future.

Teach to Develop

How to Motivate and
Engage Tomorrow’s
Innovators Today

Jeanne L. Paynter, EdD



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The tap root for this book runs very deep in the soil of my career in education,
finding its way to my first position teaching English in Baltimore County Public
Schools, where I later became a gifted program coordinator. There are too many
talented and dedicated colleagues there to acknowledge you each by name; I hope
if you are reading this, please know that I mean you! However, I must acknowl-
edge my colleague Hedy Droski, the great heart and mind behind the Primary
Talent Development program. Hedy introduced me to the concept of creating tar-
geted goals to develop “gifted behaviors” in all young children by engaging them
in creative and enriching lessons, observing their responses, and documenting
their growth using developmental rubrics. Resource teachers Melanie Carter and
Deborah Myers have trained hundreds of teachers in this process; imagine the
lives they touched! Thank you to Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Phyllis
Bailey for supporting us in this work.

I founded Educating Innovators LLC with the mission to see “every child
challenged, every day” because I sensed the urgency for schools to teach to develop
talent. For over a decade as gifted education specialist at the Maryland State
Department of Education, I fielded earnest (sometimes desperate-sounding) calls
from parents, grandparents, teachers, and some school leaders who were concerned
about children who definitely were not being “challenged every day.” Their stories
were heart-wrenching to me, and I must add that these calls from “every zip code”
advocated for diverse children in urban, rural, and suburban schools. There are sys-
temic causes for a lack of appropriate challenge, some of which I have referenced
in this book. However, I believe that schools are willing to develop “tomorrow’s
innovators” if they have practical, effective, affordable tools.

I want to acknowledge the gifted team who collaborated with me on the
talent-targeted studies that are sampled throughout this book: Joan Cable,
Alexandra Clough, Barbara Kirby, Kathleen Mooney, Traci Siegler, and Kelley
Smith. At that time, we didn’t know that this work would give birth to a whole
new approach: talent-targeted teaching and learning. Also, thank you to Sara Long
and Apryl Lannigan for piloting the curriculum.

Everyone who has written a book knows what I do now: This is a hero’s journey!
Some of the friends “along the way” have included the following: BFF and “sis”
Kimberley McMenamin and her husband Jim McMenamin (on his own writer’s
journey); and Kathleen Mooney, Stephanie Zenker, and Roni Jolley (the MSDE
mod squad). Then there are my life mentors: my big sister Norma Reinhardt, and

Te ach To De Velop TalenTviii

of course my husband Jim Farley, who shared with me years ago the wisdom that
I finally heeded: Writers write (so get started). With his great sense of humor, Jim
dubbed our two Norwegians as “service cats” for the way that they flanked each side
of my laptop as I typed away at the dining room table. As for the foes, trials, and
near-death ordeals: I acknowledge you as all part of the plan!

A heartfelt thank you to Corwin editor Jessica Allan, who championed my cause
and believes as I do that we must cultivate a talent development mindset in and
for all children. Thank you to the Corwin content development team led by editor
Lucas Schleicher, who made a masterpiece of my manuscript.

Finally, I have dedicated this book to teachers, and so many of you have contributed
to it by sharing your time and talents with me as students in the graduate education
programs at McDaniel College, the Johns Hopkins International Teaching and
Global Leadership (ITGL) program, Goucher College, and Towson University.

This book marks one journey’s end, and by God’s grace, I am “back home” in the
place of safety, forever changed, and awaiting the next call to adventure.

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

Corwin gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following reviewers:

Ellen Asregadoo
Teacher, Grade 5
Public School 190
New York, NY

Charla Bunker
Whittier Elementary
Great Falls, MT

Melissa Campbell
AMSTI Mathematics Specialist,

Grades 3–5
University of Alabama, Huntsville
Huntsville, AL

Kelly A. Hedrick, EdD
Old Donation School
Virginia Beach, VA

Marcia LeCompte
Retired Teacher
Baton Rouge, LA

Christine Williamson
District Coordinator, Gifted and

Talented Education
San Antonio ISD
San Antonio, TX



Jeanne L. Paynter, EdD, currently
works as an educational consultant
and faculty associate at the Johns
Hopkins University. She is the
founder and executive director of
Educating Innovators, which partners
with schools to implement unique
teaching and learning approaches
to engage and challenge all learners,
including those who are academi-
cally advanced or gifted and talented.
Previously, she served on the faculty
of McDaniel College, Maryland,
where she taught graduate courses in
curriculum and gifted education.

Jeanne has had a wide variety of expe-
riences in K–12 public education that

have shaped her interest in talent development, leading to the design of a new
approach that brings gifted pedagogy to all, talent-targeted teaching and learning.
Currently, she serves as the president of the Maryland Coalition for Gifted and
Talented Education (MCGATE).

As the state specialist for gifted and talented education at the Maryland State
Department of Education (MSDE), Jeanne directed numerous grant projects to
increase the participation and success of low-income and minority students in
PreK–12 advanced programming. Previous to her work at MSDE, she was the
coordinator for Gifted Education and Magnet Programs K–12 in Baltimore
County Public Schools, a large urban–suburban district.

Jeanne’s personal passions are motivation, creativity, and talent development in
K–12 education, and she has made numerous presentations on these topics to
national and international audiences. In addition, she has authored award-winning
research on the topic of intrinsic, extrinsic, and moral motivation.

Jeanne earned her master’s degree in gifted education and her doctorate in teacher
development and leadership from the Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor of
science degree in English from the Towson University. She resides in Baltimore,
Maryland, with her husband and two Norwegian Forest cats.



Why Teach to
Develop Talent?

Education doesn’t need to be reformed—it needs to be transformed. The key is not
to standardize education but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering
the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they
want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.

—Sir Ken Robinson

Te ach To De velop TalenT2

I believe that our schools today have a talent development crisis. Do you agree?
Many leaders in creativity and innovation do. Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson
describes the state of education today as “Death Valley” in need of rainfall to awaken
the dormant fields.1 It’s “one minute to midnight” on the clock that will strike
the demise of our educational system.2 Innovation expert Tony Wagner believes
that our school system must be “re-imagined” to focus on the skills that matter
today. “The world simply no longer cares what you know because Google knows
everything. What the world cares about, and what matters for learning, work, and
citizenship, is what you can do with what you know.”3 Business leaders continue to
report that “creativity is king” in their list of most sought-after employee attributes,
along with other noncontent-related skills such as perseverance, problem solving,
and leadership.

Realistically, how can schools develop these talents in all students? Decades of
school reform based on standards and standardized testing have left our students
unmotivated and disengaged. Teachers feel the pressure to “cover the curriculum,”
to focus on raising test scores to proficiency level, which leaves them feeling forced
to “teach to the test.” Test data are examined primarily to identify deficits rather
than strengths. Even with new, more rigorous content standards, the taught curric-
ulum is narrowed to what is assessed on standardized tests.

The purpose of this book is not to articulate our education crisis, which has been
articulated so well elsewhere. This book presents a solution: a paradigm shift in
the way we look at teaching and learning. I call this shift teach to develop talent
(talent-targeted teaching as opposed to test-targeted). And all schools can
begin this shift now, right in the midst of their current practices, with or with-
out changes in board policies and state regulations. This book is written for

all educators (and that includes parent
and community members) who sense
the urgency in this crisis of wasted tal-
ent. It describes a practical approach to
teaching and learning that schools can
begin even in the midst of the stan-
dards movement. You won’t necessarily
need to throw out your required curric-
ulum and assessments to do so. You’ll

see how a talent-targeted teaching approach directly supports student moti-
vation, engagement, and developing the talent aptitudes of tomorrow’s inno-
vators today.

This book presents a solution: a
paradigm shift in the way we look at
teaching and learning. I call this shift
teach to develop talent (talent-targeted
teaching as opposed to test-targeted).

3one • Why Te ach To De velop TalenT?

Who Are Tomorrow’s Innovators?

Innovators are creative problem solvers, those who produce new and useful ideas,
methods, or products that are valuable and useful to those who implement them.
While creativity is the process of conceiving new ideas, innovators put them into
practice. Creative problem solvers can sense challenges, define problems, propose
and evaluate solutions, and create a plan to implement them.

Innovation takes place in all fields of endeavor. Psychologist Abraham Maslow
once said, “A first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting.”4 In this
sense, all of us are potential innovators, and so are our students. Don’t think of
innovators as just the top 1% of tech geniuses like Steve Jobs or Google founders
Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In his book Creating Innovators: The Making of Young
People Who Will Change the World, Tony Wagner writes about the growing number
of young social innovators and entrepreneurs.5

Transformation Starts With WHY

Our students can become tomorrow’s innovators—beginning in our schools—
today. To illustrate how we begin, I’m going to use Simon Sinek’s strategy “start
with WHY.” Sinek developed the concept of the Golden Circle—three concentric
circles that start inside with WHY, then HOW, then WHAT as the outer circle.
The Golden Circle is a paradigm for creating and maintaining inspiring, motivat-
ing organizations.6 In your school, your WHY is the overarching purpose, cause,
or reason for existing. Sinek says that most organizations focus on WHAT they do
(for example, “We make widgets”) and HOW they do it (“We make widgets with
many features that are better than the rest”), but they don’t know WHY they do it
(“We believe widgets can change the world”).

Have We Lost Our WHY?

Many schools today are focused on WHAT they “produce.” This is either a hold-
over from the old industrial factory model of education or a misguided adaptation
of incentive-driven business models. Sir Ken Robinson compares these schools
to fast-food restaurants. Each meal is standardized to meet rigid quality control
standards in order to turn out exactly like every other meal. The problem is that
the products, while uniform, are not really of very high quality in a world where
Michelin stars define quality.7 Michelin restaurants, not fast food, represent the
globally competitive world that our students will live and work in. They deserve,
and must be given, the opportunity to strive for the stars.

Te ach To De velop TalenT4

It’s not that we didn’t start out with the right WHY. Teachers still do enter the
profession to “make a difference.” They believe that their work is about nur-
turing relationships, developing individual talents, and about inspiring their
students, not incentivizing them. Given the opportunity, teachers express their
moral motivation to make a difference, be a role model, to change lives.8 And

they also express their frustration with
the current derailment of their mission.
How did this occur? Largely because
school systems have fallen prey to the
mistaken belief that incentives, the car-
rots and the sticks, would achieve our
long-term goals. According to Sinek,
“There are only two ways to influence
behavior; you can manipulate it or
you can inspire it.”9 When our WHY

is derailed, “manipulation rather than inspiration fast becomes the strategy of
choice to motivate behavior.”10

Incentives are short-term tactics used to produce long-term outcomes, and they do
produce results, if only for the short term. Manipulations can be monetary rewards
(bonuses, raises, merit pay), but they are also emotional, coming in the form of fear,
peer pressure, promises, or the allure of something new or different.

So, What’s Wrong With Incentivizing if It Works?

Do our kids love learning, coming to school to be inspired, and wanting to inspire? If
so, they’ll be more productive, creative, and innovative; they’ll be happier, healthier,
and achieve more—in short, they can grow up to change the world. Manipulation
through incentivizing, on the other hand, turns learning into—using the language
of business—a series of singular “transactions” that may work in the short term but
builds no “brand loyalty” to learning.11

The trap of incentive-driven education is that the effects are fleeting and must be
repeated, each time “upping the ante.” For students, each test or extrinsic hurdle
is a one-time transaction, requiring us to find some new and better incentive that
will motivate them next time. Their response to incentives becomes “So what have
you done for me lately?” Educators are stressed about what they can do to maintain
the gains, and the stress is passed down to the students who experience it in loss
of motivation, engagement, and relationship. This obsession with short-term gains
from incentives is ruining our health,12 not to mention our relationships, creativity,
and innovation.

Daniel Pink describes the oppositional effects of “carrot and sticks” incentives in
his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us:

Given the opportunity, teachers express
their moral motivation to make a
difference, be a role model, to change
lives. And they also express their
frustration with the current derailment
of their mission.

5one • Why Te ach To De velop TalenT?

Mechanisms designed to increase motivation can dampen it. Tactics aimed
at boosting creativity can reduce it. Programs to promote good deeds can
make them disappear. Meanwhile, instead of restraining negative behavior,
rewards and punishments can often set it loose—and give rise to cheating,
addiction, and dangerously myopic thinking.13

Many teachers I work with in schools and in graduate education programs tell
me that they are stressed by viewing their students as data points to be incentiv-
ized instead of individuals to be engaged. Says Sinek, “More data doesn’t always
help, especially if a flawed assumption set the whole process in motion in the first
place.”14 These teachers want to see their students as the unique individuals they
are. Teachers want to return to their original passion for teaching, their WHY, to
make a difference and lasting impact in children’s lives. And, I would add, they
really do want to teach to develop talent.

The Difference of Beginning With WHY

Let’s look at the Golden Circles of two schools. School #1 is typical: It focuses on
WHAT they do (the outside/outcome) and HOW they do it, but they have mis-
taken WHAT for WHY.

• WHAT we do: We graduate students who are college, career, and citizenship
ready (as demonstrated by their standardized test scores).

• HOW we do it: We use rigorous curriculum standards, the latest teaching tech-
niques, state-of the art technology, and robust data-driven accountability.

• WHY we do it: Why? I already told you: We do it to graduate students who are
college, career, and citizenship ready (as demonstrated by standardized test scores).

School #1 has confused the short term (WHAT we do) with the long-term WHY
(our overarching goal or purpose for existing). Their “HOW we do it” markets well
to the education consumer, but it’s an expensive moving target that is stressful to
maintain, further distracting them from reclaiming their original intrinsic moti-
vation, inspiration—their WHY. Having a focus on WHAT we do rather than
WHY we do it limits our impact. Says Sinek, “When an organization defines itself
by WHAT it does, that’s all it will be able to do.”15

Contrast this with School #2 that operates from the inside out, starting with their
overarching purpose, their WHY.

• WHY we exist: We motivate and engage tomorrow’s innovators today.
• HOW we do it: We teach to develop talent, creating and assessing talent-

targeted instructional goals to develop students’ individual aptitudes and
content expertise.

Te ach To De velop TalenT6

• WHAT we do: We graduate creative problem solvers who understand and can
use their unique talents in useful, beneficial, and innovative ways as productive
members of society.

At first, you might say that School #2 is overly idealistic, impractical, and basically,
not of this planet. School #2 definitely operates differently because it begins with a
different long-term aim as its purpose: We motivate and engage tomorrow’s inno-
vators today. How? We teach to develop talent. What’s the result? We produce cre-
ative problem solvers who understand how to apply learning and use their unique
abilities for the good of all.

Notice that School #2’s goal (WHY ) and methods (HOW ) aren’t exclusive of
School #1’s. They are inclusive and surpassing. Students in School #2 will graduate
“college and career ready” but so much more: They are life-ready, whatever the
future holds. “The only way to prepare for the future is to make the most out of
ourselves in the assumption that doing so will make us as flexible and productive
as possible.”16 School #2 can use rigorous curriculum standards, effective teach-
ing techniques, up-to-date technology, and accountability systems, but only as the
means to a different end: To educate tomorrow’s innovators today.

You can choose your school.

Which school would you choose? As a parent or caregiver, do you want your child
to discover and develop their individual talents in order to become productive,
creative, thriving adults? To find out who they can be? Then choose School #2.

As a teacher, would you like to focus on
developing your students’ strengths instead
of diagnosing their deficits? Would you
like to design and deliver instructional
activities that motivate, engage, and guide
learners to discover their unique aptitudes,
instead of trying to fit them into a stan-
dardized mold that just doesn’t? If so, then
School #2 is your choice.

School #2 Can Be Your School

I have good news: School #2 is of this planet. It is your school! Or could be.
Embrace the paradigm: We motivate and engage tomorrow’s innovators. We teach
to develop talent! Our graduates are tomorrow’s creative problem solvers. This is
your new Golden Circle. You probably wouldn’t be reading this book if this mes-
sage didn’t resonate somewhere deep within you. Once you adopt this mission, the
HOW of teaching to develop talent will become the means to your end. You can
begin now, with practical steps, tools, and examples provided here.

Would you like to design and deliver
instructional activities that motivate,
engage, and guide learners to discover
their unique aptitudes, instead of trying
to fit them into a standardized mold
that just doesn’t?

7one • Why Te ach To De velop TalenT?

This Book Focuses on HOW

With our purpose clear and in place, we can become very practical and focus on
how—in the real world with its parameters and limitations—we can teach to
develop the talents of all learners. The process we’ll use is called talent-targeted
teaching and learning, and it is based on sound psychological and pedagogical prin-
ciples of motivation, engagement, and innovation. You’ll learn how to create a talent
development mindset in your classroom, pre-assess and set talent goals rooted in
rich STEM and humanities content, and use evidence-based teaching and assess-
ment strategies to attain long-term goals aimed at the aptitudes of innovators.

Although it’s preferable that a school or system adopt the vision, I wrote this book
with teachers in mind. Sir Ken Robinson reminds us: “The real challenges for edu-
cation will only be met by empowering passionate and creative teachers and fir-
ing up the imaginations and motivations of the students.”17 The practical tools for
talent-targeted teaching and learning are designed to empower teachers and can
be adapted to your students and school context. I believe that teaching to develop
talent is a creative commitment that teachers will find challenging and intrinsically
motivating, just as the students will.

However, practical doesn’t mean that the shift from test-targeted to talent-targeted
is going to be easy. It isn’t. I include one caveat to prepare you for possible reactions
to your newfound vision:

When we do have a sense of WHY, we expect more. For those not comfort-
able being held to a higher standard, I strongly advise you against learning
your WHY. . . . Higher standards are harder to maintain. It requires the
discipline to constantly talk about
and remind everyone WHY the
organization exists in the first place.
. . . But for those who are willing
to put in the effort, there are some
great advantages.18

I believe that you are among those will-
ing to put in the effort, and you will be
reaping the advantages as you see learn-
ers motivated and engaged, experiencing
the joy of learning, discovering their talent aptitudes, and developing the content
expertise that prepares them to become tomorrow’s innovators today.

Let’s begin the journey together. In many ways, it will be a “hero’s journey,”19 one
in which we are called to leave a place of safety and embark on an adventure that
we sense could change everything. Expect that there are friends, foes, and trials
along the way but that you will return with the treasure.

Let’s begin the journey together. In
many ways, it will be a “hero’s journey,”
one in which we are called to leave
a place of safety and embark on an
adventure that we sense could change

Te ach To De velop TalenT8

The process of talent-targeted teaching and learning is captured in five stages
(Table 1.0) and is explored in the chapters ahead, which contain practical examples
and tools that empower (and I hope inspire) you to teach to develop talent.

Table 1.0 Five Stages in Talent-Targeted Teaching and Learning

1. Prepare and

Introduce the concept of talent development, survey
student aptitudes, and begin using the language of
talent development with students and families.

2. Set Goals Create talent goals and design performances of
understanding aligned with required content standards
and learning objectives.

3. Develop Targets Use the Talent Aptitude Learning Progressions to
compose rubrics for ongoing assessment.

4. Design

Use the seven evidence-based curriculum “Design
Essentials” and strategies modeled in the sample studies
to focus your curriculum on talent development.

5. Assess and

Document student progress over time to improve
teaching and learning, provide opportunities to
self-assess, and set growth goals.

Chapter 2: You Can Motivate
and Engage Tomorrow’s Innovators

We begin with a sharp focus on our WHY: to motivate, engage, and develop the
talents of our students today, the innovators of tomorrow. First, to ensure common
understanding, we’ll review the core principles of motivation, engagement, and
talent development. Next, we’ll explore HOW: talent-targeted teaching and learn-
ing is a new paradigm that shifts the emphasis from short-term goals for content
and skill acquisition (often manipulated rather than motivated and measured on
standardized tests) to long-term goals for talent development and transfer of learn-
ing. We’ll see how these talent goals integrate, achieve, and exceed your current
required content standards.

Chapter 3: Create a Talent Development Mindset

Stage 1 of talent-targeted teaching and learning is Prepare and Pre-Assess. To begin,
the teacher uses a talent quiz to uncover “fixed mindset” misconceptions and intro-
duce the concepts of talent development. Next, students use an aptitude survey to
identify their strengths and set goals for growth. As teachers, students, and families
begin to use the language of talent development to recognize, affirm, and nurture

9one • Why Te ach To De velop TalenT?

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