Tips for Teachers
As a teacher your reality every day is a classroom packed with kids and just you.
One teacher! It’s been said your job is to help as many kids as you can, but not the one. Unfortunately, this can mean the ADHDer is pushed along by the sear intelligence and intuitiveness, all the while believing they are “stupid or dumb”. A ratio of 1 to 30 is highly inappropriate and unforgiving for both the students and the teachers. But what is a teacher, and the ADHDer to do?
Eventually, the ADHDer will be out of school, maybe in college, with no skills to study, learn or manage themselves. Because they were never taught to how they learn.
Maybe, they figure it out on their own (remember how intelligent and intuitive they are?), and start becoming successful and finding their place in this world. But it will be at the expense of a decade or two being shuffled along. It rarely is because their teachers never wanted to help them, but because they didn’t know how.
And this is you, the teacher: choosing this relentless profession of molding minds into the leaders and caretakers of tomorrow. You’re reading this and on this blog because you haven’t burnt out, and you love your children and want them to succeed with all your heart. But what are you to do?
Here are 10 tips that teachers and schools can do to support the ADHDer and teach them how to support themselves:
The 6 P’s: Proper prior planning prevents poor performance!
If you can have a plan of action before beginning things will go much smoother for the ADHDer, they can be told and see what’s first, second, and third, so when they inevitably drift off, they know just where they left off and can jump right back in.
Repeat directions, write them down, have them write them down, have them visible, remind them of directions and also…repeat directions
Again, we need to mitigate the “drifting”. It isn’t about the ADHDer not being smart enough to learn, it’s about them focusing long enough to absorb the information. So if they have many reminders when they drift they can pick up where they left off. So plan for the reminders.
Standing up while doing work
Standing allows the ADHDer to shift, stand on one foot and wiggle as much as they want. This will help them stay focused and get rid of the “he never sits still!” issue.
Allow for “movement or energy” breaks
Following our last tip, some ADHDer’s have a lot of energy, they get antsy, irritated and need a break. Sometimes, it would seem, before they explode. Allow the ADHDer to take a walk, do some push-ups, burpees, whatever, a few times an hour.
Eye contact and Touch
Eye contact is permission, reassurance and attention. As for touch, one of my best teachers in elementary school routinely walked around the room while he taught. That alone helped me focus. And when it wasn’t enough he would always place his hand or a finger on my desk or shoulder and smile. I’d be right back in the classroom after that.
Build your support now (you’ll need it next year, and the year after, and the year after):
Connect with teachers, your principal, the school counselor, school psychiatrist, the parents, etc., (provided they have experience). Don’t forget to keep in touch with parents. Doing so will serve as the “eye contact and touch” from #5 and put them at ease. This will give the parents more opportunities to feel successful, calm and proud of themselves, their child, and your school.
Gather attention BEFORE beginning something
If the class has been working for a while and it’s time to move on, it may take more than just “Ok class, close your books.” Instead, try “Class…everyone…All eyes on me…Ok, close your books and…” Give the ADHDer (and any other child wanting to finish a thought), a second to transition from the task at hand.
Read aloud often and encourage the child and/or parents read aloud at home
Because of the distractibility ADHDers have, not to mention the co-occurrence of learning disabilities like dyslexia, reading comprehension is low. However reading out loud with the auditory stimulus, the comprehension level is greater.
Praise feedback, questions as they come up not matter how off the wall
Depending on the age, the child may have already gone through exacerbated teachers and frustrated parents, their child wouldn’t fit into the square teaching environment. All the while the adults unanimously reflect how “smart and intelligent” the child can be. The end result is a child who has developed a personal narrative that they are stupid, dumb and cannot do anything right. Imagine for a second what their self-worth is and will be into adulthood.
Demand a 504 or IEP
As a teacher you choose this profession to help children and mold them into the future. But it doesn’t stop with the lectures and grading. It involves advocating for the child as well. Letting parents know what a 504 or IEP is, how to get one and how important it is for the child’s success; we’ve established it’s not an intelligence issue, it’s a round peg square hole issue; you won’t change the shape you’ll just accommodate the poor fit.