View Full Version : TEACHERS READ THIS! from someone who's a T.A. and ADHDer

09-12-07, 03:45 AM
OK so here's the deal.

I have ADHD.
I also happen to have a B.A. in psychology, do behaviroual intervention, have taught swimming lessons/first aid for 8 years and am completing certification as a Special Education Assistant (S.E.A.).
I also work in the schools as an SEA already b/c I had years of experience working with people with all kinds of special needs through my work in aquatics.
I'm aiming to be a teacher and probably go into professional development, school psychology or something education and psych combo packed.

In my experiences on-call, I've noticed in general that teachers DO NOT understand kids with ADHD. It's REALLY frustrating! B/c when I get the kids, they all end up doing great work, are able to behave better and don't present sulky attitude.

I speak from personal experience, which is most likely the reason why I get along with the kids who have ADHD/behavioural issues - I can empathize.

they already KNOW that they mess up (A LOT) in everyday lives.
Their lives are VERY VERY STRESSFUL. They're really stressed about doing the wrong thing all the time.
They already feel that they're going to be rushed, belittled, and have teachers give that "sigh" of dissapointment/exasperation.
when you get mad at them, it just ends up totally messing with their self-esteem.

they just don't know how to do it, or what specifically to do.

what you can do:
keep telling them :I know you don't mean to be disruptive, but you're talking really loud.
and realize that people with ADHD have a VERY VERY hard time being AWARE OF SUCH THINGS (talking too loud, talking too much, being hyper etc)

have a piece of paper on their desk, and count the number of time they are "on track".

3) DO NOT, I repeat, ***DO NOT*** keep track of how many times they've forgotten or are being disruptive... this will make them feel bad and be a magnifier of how much they already feel a failure they are.
Honestly, they don't feel they are able to do anything right...

when you "catch them being good"... it makes them feel good, feel valued.

things to say:
"I really like how you're sitting quietly and working! Excellent job!"
or "Wow, you got to work really quickly. That's great!" "Thank you for being quiet during seatwork." "I really like how you remembered to walk quietly/keep hands to yourself/whatever"

and then, you make a tick mark on the paper on their desk. (I use a sticky note, and divide the day up into sections - by subject, am/pm, etc)

4) when the kids go off on a tangent (seemingly totally unrelated to what's going on), TAKE THE TIME to ask "what made you think of that?" instead of just ignoring what they said and saying to them to get back to work... this works realllly well... the thoughts are always related, and the kid gets to share what reminded them of it... and it seems to get it out of their system, and brings them back to what they were doing. If they tend to really go off on a tangent a lot, then have a piece of paper where you can put the "thoughts for later" on and talk about something on there when you're done "X" amount of work (number of problems etc)

The kids feel undervalued when adults disregard what they've just said... it would be like someone repeatedly telling you "what you just said isn't really important".

note in a kind way (or come up with a "secret signal") with the student to let them know they're doing *ONE BEHAVIOUR* you wish to choose.

for example:
there was a super cute, super creative, awesome boy in grade 3 who was in the class I was on-call, and one behaviour I noticed that really got the teacher annoyed was him not raising his hand and yelling out answers.

I used the sticky note strategy, and when I was unable to go and make a tickmark (I was actually in to support a girl with down syndrome, one on one) I gave him the "thumbs up".
Please note, that I specifically told him that every time he remembered to raise his hand and not speak out, he got a tickmark... so he was AWARE of the SPECIFIC ONE BEHAVIOUR I was looking for.
this IMMEDIATELY developed his self-awareness, and within an hour, he would remember to raise his hand, and he'd look over at me to see if I'd noticed he remembered. It was great!

You then can work on seeing if each block of time/subject s/he can remember more times. Then you work on adding one more behaviour...
and so on.
You can do things like have a jar and bingo chips, and every time the student remembers to do something you've been working on brining self-awareness to, you put a chip in - MAKING SURE that the student is aware you are doing so (get eye contact, or say their name and smile and put in the chip), or walk by their desk and say "chip" (or whatever word you choose)

you can use different coloured chips for different behaviours if you find that the student is at that stage.

I have lots more, but it's late and I need to get to sleep.

Since I myself have ADHD and now work with kids who have it, I'm VERY passionate about helping the kids.

Don't be ignorant about their feelings, or how your words impact them.

If you have any questions, please message me, and we can get in touch by e-mail.

I've done a lot of research on ADHD myself, am on meds, and work with kids to modify their behaviour.

I hope this helps.

Feel free to post any questions you have concerning a student, and I'll try to help you out with some ideas on things to try or point you in the right direction.

Good luck, hang in there!

This is the year that you'll really see the kids bloom, if you learn to understand them, I PROMISE.

09-12-07, 08:53 PM
I wish my teachers had done this to me. I almost started crying.:(

09-12-07, 11:07 PM
Ah, some teachers have ADD and understand-more that you think. Sorry you have run into so many negative ones. I am a teacher with ADD and have been a TA. I don't like it when people use ANY DISABILITY as an excuse. It is a hurdle, a difficulty to adapt to, a chance to be a positive change for people with disability, comes with benefits-focus on those, and above all, avoid the victim mentality-is handicaps-which in my opinion is worse than a disability.

Life is about doing what you can, what you love, adapting, and living life with the disability and going for the gold-think para-olympics!!!! Think positive and adapt to accomodate and benefit your abilities-accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.... sounds corny, but works-trust me. EAsy? No, possible, yes!

Here for you-I know anger and frustration-but they hinder, so vent to a friend, get it out of your system and go on positively and determined.

My best to you...... really and truly, you can do it-you sound like an amazing person!!!!

This is the approach i take with my students and used understanding, accomodate, use empathy, and have high expectations. Time for breaks, understanding of difficulties etc. It is just the admins and older, not trained in spec ed who don't fully grasp the issues and don't understand. I feel your pain....

09-28-07, 08:17 AM
yes to positive approaches with pupils w/ADHD. The more, the better.



11-06-07, 11:19 PM
Slowpoke, great post. I am a substitute teacher, and I love taking the special ed classes. I have inattentive ADD myself, so I can relate. Last year I had a second grade class, and I noticed early on that I had an inattentive ADD boy, and every time the kids "caught" the boy not paying attention, they told me that he got minutes on the wall as a punishment. While I do believe in upholding a teacher's rules, I just wouldn't punish that boy. I knew he was not being defiant.

I had all the kids clean out their desks, and I watched him and helped him get it clean, then handed out the award for cleanest desk. Of course he got it. The sad thing is that the teacher's sister has a bad case of ADHD herself.

One point I'd like to make about that too is something I learned from James Dobson's Dare to Discipline. He said that it is not a good idea to punish kids for careless mistakes. Only punish for defiance (lies and sneakiness count as defiance). When they refuse to obey your authority, punishment should be swift.

I agree about the anger thing. It seemed like people were always angry with me as a child and this contributes to my low self esteem more than anything else. Nowadays it's not so evident, but I can almost feel the eyeballs rolling behind my back at times.

12-10-07, 07:07 PM
VisualImagery--you are a star!!!

12-11-07, 03:32 AM
Thanks, Now I just need a job-seriously. But a funny thing happened when I became a teacher. Once I got in the classroom and got to know my students, I realized how great a need there is for learning-style and learning-disability friendly study skill training, help exploring and choosing a major/training and career path, and as a natural extension, what we in the career development field call "integrated-life planning." If you think about it, all areas of our lives are interconnected.

Most Child Development classes teach about Physical, Intellectual, Social, and Emotional development, but our work is such a major part of our lives that there are many who believe Career development should be added to the human development stew-it just plain makes sense.

Because this need for career and academic support is so important and because of my students and the people on this forum, I am focusing my career in education on student support services as an academic advisor for undeclared majors, student retention, career services or other closely related position. Some of the positions include teaching Freshman orientation with study skills, career exploration, life-skills--like time management etc. If I stay at the secondary level I know I want to concentrate on teaching workplace skills and managing cooperative education work/study programs. That way I can focus more on the individual student instead of teaching a subject.

This is how we discover what we want to do, that fits with our values and abilities. How does this fit with this thread? The pressures of NCLB are changing the face of education to focus on test scores and student preparation for testing and meeting AYP. This is getting us far away from the purpose of preparing students for the workplace. All of education is preparation for what will be the largest chunk of our lives-our careers.

Students are our future and it takes an entire community to educate and employ its future and present! Valuing each student and helping grow into confident, skilled, capable people is the ultimate goal. Who will care what they scored on the yearly tests if they can't get a job, are demoralized and struggling with depression, are not prepared to succeed in post-high school training and education? What then? What do we tell our students then?

Just some thoughts from my heart. Keep good thoughts that the right job for me will open up soon and I will be able to work closely with students again. Substitute teaching is alright, but it does not allow this teacher to build those all important relationships and interact with students on a daily basis. I truly miss that daily contact.


12-11-07, 02:45 PM
I am just gobsmacked at how someone as amazing as you does not have a job! Would you care to fill me in? I'm going a little bezerk now :) trying to figure out how this could happen! Cuts, lack of spaces?? No, no, your talents and teh level of impact you could have on your students are being circumscribed by substitute teaching. But I bet you that right now there are some students in those very classes that you are substituting on whom you have left a very big impression. Don't give up; someone will see and appreciate what you have to offer!!! I am humbled by your fantastic attitude and your obvious passion for teaching. The world needs more teachers like you!!! I'm going to stop now before my keyboard gets all wet. :)

12-11-07, 06:11 PM
I am really touched by your compliments. Yes, my position was eliminated. I have a Master's degree and when I had interview after interview and no job, many teachers and union people told me the degree makes me too expensive to hire when there are so many teachers with BS/BA degrees. Plus, I live in an area with few jobs.

I was not a perfect teacher-made a lot of mistakes, but I did my best and then some-but isn't that the way it is in any job? My first year was really tough but I really got in the swing of things the second year! The key though is loving what you teach, caring for the students, having high expectations, and being tough on the kids who ruin class for the rest (this is a student expectation!) Plus they want a teacher with a sense of humor. I guess I have some impact even subbing when kids see me and ask if I am their teacher....there are a few that ask because they hope I am not though! That comes with the territory. A job will come my way-or I will make a job for myself.

Thanks for the compliments-you made my day.