One of the major challenges of addressing diversity in the classroom is to meet the needs of gifted students, which are often invisible in countries such as Chile, in which providing services for highly able students is still considered elitist. The purpose of this study was to analyze the perceptions of community members about the critical competencies of instructors who work with gifted students. Six focus groups were conducted with students, instructors, and staff members of an enrichment program for the gifted. Qualitative analyses were conducted throughout open, axial, and selective coding. Traits and competencies were grouped into three themes: knowledge, teaching, and socio-emotional characteristics. Differences were found between the perceptions of students and staff members: Whereas students’ emphasis was on socio-affective characteristics, the staff highlighted the importance of content and pedagogical knowledge. The novelty and contribution of the study are related on how to recognize and acknowledge the voices of active members of a community for educational improvement. These community perceptions contributed to depict a profile of an effective teacher for gifted students, and were used to improve instructors’ current performance and to design a more rigorous selection process for future teachers. The implications of the study also shed light about how to improve teacher preparation programs to meet the needs of this group of students.
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