View Full Version : Advice for an overwhelmed ADHD teacher.

10-28-15, 01:10 AM
Hello all,

I'm a 25-year-old gal who was diagnosed with ADD last year. I just started medication (2 days in), but I'm feeling so overwhelmed right now. I am in full-time grad school and full-time teaching special education (English 9-10).

I spend all my time worrying that I'm forgetting a deadline, appointment, or IEP objective. I procrastinate. Any tips on beating the mountain of things to do, while still giving yourself grace?

~Amelia :)

10-28-15, 10:13 AM
Hello and welcome.

I know overwhelm all too well. It's such a dreadful feeling, and I am sending you hugs. I know how hard it is.

The best advice I've found to date is to break tasks down into tiny little pieces.
Praise and encourage yourself when you skim the smallest chip off that mountain of undone tasks.

One other tip I've found enormously helpful is to stop for a fraction of a moment throughout the day and just listen.... to the hum of the aircon or heating system, to your own breathing, to the traffic sounds around you.... just listen, for one second, without inner chatter or commentary.

Draw a breath. Regroup. Focus on getting one more tiny chip off that mountain.

Most of all, drop any criticism (for procrastinating, for forgetting etc) and remind yourself that it's all part of this ADD condition.
Remind yourself that you are very brave for showing up every day and trying again.

Deep breaths help center you for a moment, so you get a clean page for a second or two.

Now.... I think I'll go off and try to follow that advice a bit today.... :)

ps... keep posting here. There are so many wise ones here - I've found them invaluable xx

pixie cut
10-28-15, 07:53 PM
wow that's a lot. good for you making it this far. I taught briefly pre-diagnosis. It was soooo stressful. Loved the kids and the fun of learning but organizationally couldn't keep all those balls in the air. Sadly gave it up.
You have your diagnosis and are taking meds. going forward.

1. for me biggest help tho was prioritizing. literally started day with piece of paper, what is essential, what is next level of priority etc and as much as I hated it, I started with task #1 and moved down the list. Knew that otherwise my scattered day would lead off into all kinds of bunny trails.
2. Also took frequent breaks, walk around the block, snack time, chat w people, 3. Also had to break huge tasks down into small manageable bits.
4. And learned when good enough, is good enough. bye perfection. whatever that is.

all the best.

10-28-15, 08:05 PM
Welcome to the Forums! :)


learned when good enough, is good enough. bye perfection. whatever that is.

I fought (and lost) with this for years.

In time I realized I was setting a bar that no one else needed, could appreciate, or even understand.


10-29-15, 10:50 AM
"My life is filled with terrible misfortune, most of which has never happened!"

The fact is that worrying will make matters worse! I know it sounds easier said then done but it's the calm focused brain that keeps you from forgetting and from being stressed out and unhealthy.

All people forget and procrastinate, the difference is they (earth humans) accept it, make modifications in their environment to counter it and they stay focused and calm during the process. (most of the time)

I have been diagnosed AD(H)D with anxiety and depression for 46 years now. One thing I have learned is I use to put way too much pressure on myself to be mistake free because of my disorders.

Make your lists, use your reminders, smart phone apps can help you tremendously, but most important is learning how to be calm and confident.

I use a breathing technique which I never thought would help me. I was wrong! Long slow deep breaths and at the end of the breath I imagine pushing out all the negative thoughts and I end with a big smile of relief.

It really works. also, at least 20 minutes a day where you can just sit and breath with relaxing music through headphones where all you do is focus on breathing. I promise you if you do this consistently you will find a sense of calmness and confidence you never knew you had!

Good luck and I wish good things for you!

10-29-15, 11:22 AM
I spend all my time worrying that I'm forgetting a deadline, appointment, or IEP objective. I procrastinate. Any tips on beating the mountain of things to do, while still giving yourself grace

For me I use a few daily apps to keep me up on tasks or to do list and deadlines and appointments.. That's been the best course of action for me thus far into staying on top of tasks and deadlines.. If you don't have any apps you use and can see you benefiting. Either search here on the forum for apps or I can give you some that works for me. That are free:yes:

But welcome to this site. I'm new here as well and so far it's been the best support I have found as of know.

10-31-15, 09:47 AM
Good morning fellow teacher! I can tell you that my ability to be successful is proportional to very clear routines in the classroom (students know what to do when they arrive until new material may start; students know where to retrieve homework; students know where papers from prior classes are kept; students know that the first few minutes are critical to their learning (5 - 10 / 10 - 5 rule); and I know where I keep each class assignment, etc. Getting organized allowed me to breath easy. Next, the alerts on my phone ... any appointments go right into my calendar and if I get an idea at night I either post a new appointment to appease myself or I use my memo function. That prevents perseveration. I have been dealing with this for over 40 years - and as a teacher I have been able to help students not use their adhd (from time to time I share with students (one on one)) as an excuse but rather show how it can enhance contributions; such as details that others may miss.
ADHD isn't something that keeps me in a box - because the box never existed! I simply need to accept and adapt; and then allow for time to destimulate after work. A long walk, meditation ... no visual reminders of the next day.

10-31-15, 05:50 PM
Hi Amelia,
I don't have much advice but I do want to say I'm with you. I'm 24, diagnosed in the past few months, and I'm a teacher too (elementary school). I love it but I'm in a constant state of feeling overwhelmed, forgetting to hand out/collect assignments, having a hard time with consistency in my classroom management, and working 3x as hard as everyone around me to accomplish the same tasks. I'm in my 3rd year teaching. It's been really difficult and I've wondered many times if I'm just not cut out for this job I've been dreaming of and working toward my entire life. I'm seeing a doctor next week and possibly starting medication. The little advice I can offer is to try and give yourself credit when you can. I often find myself feeling guilty of all my shortcomings, and it takes a lot of effort to stop placing that blame on myself and remember that it's the disorder, not my lack of trying. Find bright spots in your days and cherish them: a lesson that went well, something a student said or did, remembering a meeting, a moment with a coworker, or something outside of work. Remind yourself of the positives. And I hope that you have supportive colleagues. Find someone you feel comfortable going to with anything and everything.
Sending good vibes your way! Enjoy the weekend ;)

11-07-15, 01:10 PM
I am a second year teacher and this year I changed from an elective teacher to a self-contained middle school teacher. I teach 3 subjects to mixed classes 6,7, and 8th grade. I am so overwhelmed and cant get organized that I actually broke down yesterday. I love what I do but I can't keep up with the lesson plans(6 a week) and other paper work/meetings. I also have to concentrate on passing the General Knowledge Test by June this year which I have failed once before. I am just wondering if at this point a sub position would be a better fit for me. Good luck to you!

05-25-16, 05:18 AM
Hi, respect to the teachers in mainstream schooling. As someone with ADHD who struggles with executive function/organising, you are awesome! I swapped from mainstream teaching in high schools after I went to a school with 2,400 kids. I have sensory processing issues in really busy places too and I was just getting too tired and burnt out. I have now swapped to being more of a specialist teacher. I have run my own tutoring company for 3 years, and teach mainly 1-to-1 or in a small group. I do occasional full classes at the university or relief teaching.

But teaching 1-to-1 has been the best thing in terms of not being so exhausted. Plus you get to see them progress. At the university I have been working with students with disabilities, everything from blind to ADHD and dyslexia. The knowledge and empathy you have from having a condition yourself trumps everything!

Feel free to PM me any time!

05-25-16, 05:20 AM
And doing the lesson plans was what killed me, I am way more motivated to do the teaching part!