View Full Version : Any ADD teachers out there?


kabuki
07-14-09, 07:07 PM
I'd like to hear from you if you teach, and how ADD is affecting you in your career...good and bad.

peripatetic
07-15-09, 01:00 AM
hi kabuki,

i'm a professor (philosophy); does that count? i suspect you may be more interested in hearing from those teaching primary or secondary school--the challenges would likely be quite different than college/university instruction--so i'll keep it brief:

positive: i give a pretty compelling lecture; i am a solid writer; i can think the hell out of a thing; i can break down, analyse, and reconstruct conceptual architecture like it's my job--actually, it is my job.

negative: grading, especially poorly-written essays, kills me; faculty meetings are hell; i tend to lose things, like student essays...; i'm rarely punctual (but always within 10 minutes).

overall: students love me, so long as i don't lose their work; colleagues enjoy me and respect my ideas, but they can get frustrated in meetings and such; the university registrar is my arch-nemesis.

cheers

Peterr
07-15-09, 02:59 AM
I'm a lecturer at a university. Nice to meet you, peripatetic :)

Like peri, I'm good at giving lectures, I am analytical, I see the big lines. I like to interact with students.

I am bad at organization. And in fact, an important part of education is to organize things in a correct way. Being in time, having the lessons prepared, being clear to the students, reading students' work in time, putting the grades in our computer system etc. - I make a lot of mistakes in this field.

katewithadd1234
07-15-09, 11:30 PM
Hello!
I'm an elementary school teacher in the inner city and I have ADD. Teaching was a career change for me (at age 25!) after an unsuccessful start in the business world. I am VERY lucky- I currently teach kids ages 5-8 who have Autism and similar disorders. I think that my ADD gives me a unique perspective in helping these types of children for the following reasons:
1. My attention span, although short, is longer than the kids'. Most activities run about 20 minutes before we transition to another activity, and there are a lot of visual and verbal reminders of what is coming next. I think our system helps me stay on track just as much as the kids!
2. My job is NEVER boring.
3. I have some sensory issues with my ADD, and I can see they perspective of the kids in that area when other adults can't. It kind of allows me to pick and choose my battles as far as some behaviors are concerned. I am also super-sensitive to noise distractions, and it helps me keep the noise level down and troubleshoot things that other people don't notice but the kids do.
4. This type of teaching is a TEAM EFFORT. Working with other people helps keep me on task. Knowing I have this deadline for this person, and this activity to finish before the speech therapist comes in, etc, really really helps me with deadlines and work I would otherwise probably procrastinate and put off.

Honestly, I know I am very very lucky to find a career that I love and fits my ADD. It's not all easy and fun and games- in fact it is frustrating and heartbreaking most of the time. It's also not the most lucrative job in the world. But every day I can find one thing that keeps me going, even if it's as silly as laughing with a kid over funny faces.

katewithadd1234
07-15-09, 11:35 PM
Oops-forgot the bad stuff:-(
I still suck at deadlines and some "timing" issues. And I tend to frustrate easily with myself and other adults, which can put me in a bad mood and affect the kids. (Although I have a TON of patience for them!).
I also HATE going to day-long teacher professional developments. It's TORTURE- not just for me, but for most teachers. It's very hard to go from a fast-paced day of transitioning to sitting in one spot all day listening to a speaker drone on and on!
I do wish I wasn't so burnt out and tired by the end of the school day- I would like to be able to stay and do some more prep work and such. But I usually tend to go right home, walk my dogs, nap, and then do work after dinner while I watch tv. (And get annoyed at myself for bringing work home!)

DTownDave22
07-16-09, 03:30 PM
hi kabuki,

i'm a professor (philosophy); does that count? i suspect you may be more interested in hearing from those teaching primary or secondary school--the challenges would likely be quite different than college/university instruction--so i'll keep it brief:

positive: i give a pretty compelling lecture; i am a solid writer; i can think the hell out of a thing; i can break down, analyse, and reconstruct conceptual architecture like it's my job--actually, it is my job.

negative: grading, especially poorly-written essays, kills me; faculty meetings are hell; i tend to lose things, like student essays...; i'm rarely punctual (but always within 10 minutes).

overall: students love me, so long as i don't lose their work; colleagues enjoy me and respect my ideas, but they can get frustrated in meetings and such; the university registrar is my arch-nemesis.

cheers

Um..I'm not in the mood for looking for a thumbs up smiley, but thumbs up..oh there it is! More of an icon, but ok.

Thumbs up for philosophy. Fun, though as described by one professor as I may have stated at some point on these forums, I'm not sure how practical it is outside of a few fields, being law and teaching at the college level. What the heck do people do with philosophy degrees anyways? I was considering it a little while ago.

2Springers_Matt
07-16-09, 04:05 PM
I am a teacher, 9-12th grade. I teach pre-engineering in an lower class, inner city setting.

Add is killing my job... I absolutely hate going to work each day. I am so anxious about making sure I do every little thing, I tend to make myself sick (stomach). For years I thought I had bad IBS, but it turns out its the stress of having to deal with hiding/combating/dealing with all my ADD issues, that I wake up and I am sick every morning. I have been given anti anxiety meds, and they help, but not enough, and arent fixing the problem.
As far as the dealing with kids, they like me because I am generally too easy-going. I have a terrible time with student paperwork. I also tend to be terrible at preparing handouts and such. I never have them made ahead of time, I lecture, or demonstrate skills, and I have high expectations of the kids just getting it the first time. I always spend so much time teaching skills to students individually, when if I prepared better, I could spend less time on that and focus on just the ones who would really need the help. I tend not to give enough written assignements, and grade students based on how they work, and what they accomplish. (this is not unheard of within the subject matter I teach- its very hands on with machines and computers) I tend to lose student work as well. I also have a terrible time meeting my required (by state and district) professional requirements. I am up against the wire with everything. I procrastinate terribly. I have graduate work due by September, that my teaching license is hinging on, and I have yet to start it. My administration at my school is so screwed up and never knows what one hand is doing, it causes me to really stress over things. (I was an unpaid dept. head for 4 years). I have a terrible time dealing with the bureaucracy found in the education system as well. Not to mention my interpersonal skills suck (anti-social), so I have conflict with one other teacher in my dept, whom I should be able to deal with.
I miss many days of work and have even left work early due to stress building up and I cant take it anymore. I have been working with my therapist for 2 years, and I am getting better at dealing with it internally, so I am not so physically sick, but the problems are still there. I want to switch careers desperately, but I am scared to do so in this economy, plus the loss of the health benefits would be detrimental to my ADD, since it is what is allowing me all the counseling/drugs etc.

Add that to all the other issues listed above, and I feel like I am a pretty bad teacher. I do love what I try to do, but its the minutia that is killing me.

katewithadd1234
07-16-09, 06:46 PM
Hey Matt-
I really feel for you, and I just want to say that I had some really similar problems at first. Two books are helping me right now, and I also have a trusted friend acting as a "coach" to help remind me of stuff. One book is by Nancy Ratey, called The Disorganized Mind: Coaching Your ADHD Brain to Take Control of Your Time, Tasks, and Talents. I actually can't find the other one right this second (ADD much, Kate?), but I will post the title as soon as it surfaces. I would definitely recommend sharing these books with your wife and talking about stuff with her, but probably NOT using her as your coach. I am very close with my mom, but chose not to use her as a coach because I didn't want the relationship to become resentful. I'm using a friend of mine who is also a teacher.
Another suggestion would be to take a special ed teacher out to lunch or dinner and pick his or her brain for suggestions. A lot of things that can be used to help kids succeed at school can also be used for adults, sometimes with a little bit of modification. For example, I use the microwave timer when I do laundry so I don't forget about it. The kids in my class use timers for almost everything. I also carry sticky notes EVERYWHERE. I put them on my door by the lock, my bathroom mirror, and my steering wheel when there is something I REALLY need to remember. I also have a "to-do" clipboard at home and at work. I keep a calendar and a to-do list on each one with all the really important stuff on them. I also keep any forms or things I need to fill out, return to the office, etc. I carry this around with me EVERYWHERE at school, and whenever I have a second, waiting for my kids, etc, I see what I can knock off on the list. I also try to take one morning or prep period per week to try to get a lot of things done.
I know from experience that the school district I work for does not set teachers up for success- ADD or no ADD. There is a lot of conflicting information, and a lot of places where teachers and kids can fall through the cracks.
Don't give up on teaching just yet!! I'll bet you have a great relationship with the kids, and you educate the majority of those who come into your classroom. As far as the kids are concerned, the paperwork isn't important to them!
A few questions for you- Do you find it easier to get things done when you're not alone? For instance, is it easier to sit and do lesson plans when someone else is in the room doing something else but available to bounce your ideas off of (and occasionally guide you back to task?) I also feel like I get stuff done in meetings, etc, when I can't focus on the speaker. I guess I figure if I'm stuck there, I might as well do SOMETHING productive.
GOOD LUCK!

2Springers_Matt
07-17-09, 04:46 PM
Thank You Kate.
I do find some tasks easier when I am not alone, others, I need to be alone in my own little world to complete them. I generally do bounce things off of others, it gives me reassurance that im on the right path. My big problem there is I have an idiot for a co-worker who I can not get along with (long story-basically an old man who wont retire, but has quit teaching and disciplining)
Meetings arent a big issue for me, I just go to them and generally zone out, or I cause a raucous (because no one else will say what is obvious and on everyones mind). I can deal with that. Its the constant procedures changes, regulations and lack of support from the administration. I cant keep up. I wish the teachers were given the same opportunity for 'accommodations', but were not. We are expected to be super people who have nothing else going on in their lives but teaching...Thats just not me.

katewithadd1234
07-18-09, 08:28 PM
Matt- Don't you wish that teaching was just about the kids? It would make things soooo much easier. If we work for the same employer, I feel your frustration with all the BS regulation changes and misinformation and lack of support. This past year I had an administrator who basically banned me from going outside my school for any help. So no special ed case managers, behavioral people, etc. IT WAS HORRIBLE, and I cried almost every day on my way home from school. Luckily, I knew it was only a year.
I agree with your statement that teachers are expected to be superstars who have nothing else going on. I don't know a single teacher who's actually like that. One of the best teachers I know has been teaching for 30+ years and she still brings work home sometimes. As far as your colleague goes, is there anyone else in your building you can talk to? Sometimes the counselor is a good resource, especially because they really have to be aware of changes because of all the special ed involvement. Or even just another teacher close to your age.
One thing that my mom started me on was doing my lesson plans on the computer. It makes my ADD life so much easier- mostly in terms of getting plans in on time. I made a template, filled in a lot of the stuff that doesn't change, then I went in, changed dates, page numbers, days off, etc- and saved. Honestly, I ended up writing a lot on the copy I printed and kept in my classroom, but the bare bones version I send to the principal every week was enough to get by as far as her requirements were concerned. I could either print it, email it to her (which sucked because she never confirmed that she got it), or email it to the secretary who would print it and put it in the pile. The secretary loved that one because she didn't have to chase me down or bug me, and it was pretty easy for her to print it out.
Which brings me to some more advice my mom gave me that is PRICELESS: schmooze the hell out of the school secretaries. They can make you miserable or make things a lot easier for you. And it's kind of easy once you get started on it. The first day of school I bring something in for them- this year I bought sheets of labels and made them each a couple of pages of name labels. They loved them- they marked up their pens, their keys, their staplers- anything that tends to "walk" out of the office. Every once in a while I would go out to grab lunch and I would stop in and see if they wanted me to bring something back. One of the secretaries had a dog- so I would bring in treats every once in a while, ask how the dog liked the snow, blah blah blah. It's little dumb stuff that I tend to forget when I am stressed and annoyed by school. The bonus? I got more leeway with due dates and reminders. Once they knew I sucked at remembering to hand stuff in, they would remind me about it when they saw me signing in in the morning. Oh, and if I forgot to sign in in the morning, they would call and remind me before I'd get circled and written up.
The "organization" I work for is a big giant MESS, and it's so easy to let it get you down. But as teachers, we are really lucky- we get fresh starts a LOT more than regular people. Every september, january- even a random monday can be a fresh start for us. Maybe it's another form of procrastination for me, but I can always count on feeling better about getting a fresh start:-)

outnumbered
07-18-09, 09:54 PM
I teach 2nd and 3rd grade. Teaching was a career change for me, too, if you can call it that--started out in desktop publishing in college, then was a SAHM for 5 yrs, then got into teaching. Not sure whether that counts as a career change, or a very late career start. ;)

The good:
- I can REALLY relate to the fidgety and daydreaming kids. They're my favorites, really--the kids none of the other teachers want, lol. I love the spark they have--it just needs to be channeled, and as a mom of ADHD kids and having inattentive ADD myself, I get that.
- I rarely plan out what I'm going to say or do in detail before a lesson. I "wing it" a lot and it works out really well. I can look at the math page the kids will be doing 15 min before math time and figure out a great lesson to do, and the kids get a lot out of it. I can also switch gears quickly to something else if what we're doing isn't working.
- I have a lot of enthusiasm for whatever activity we're doing, and the kids pick up on that. I also plan varied lessons and like hands-on activities, which of course the kids like too.

The not-so-good:
- I can get hopelessly behind on grading SO fast. I can't concentrate on grading a stack of papers with kids in the room, and even if it's quiet or I'm at home, it's painfully boring. I'll put it off and then suddenly I have a huge stack of work that makes me want to cry.
- My desk is a MESS. All the time.
- I forget things easily, so I'm constantly having to write myself post-its and stick them on my purse or my chair or whatever. I can't have a kid mention they'll be on vacation next week so can they please get their homework early and actually remember to get it to them unless I've written myself a note, and even then, it's iffy. Things parents tell me can be in one ear and out the other if I'm not really careful.
- I am ALWAYS calling people by the wrong name or calling one grade by the other grade, etc. "Okay, second graders, you can line up now. Oh! Yes! Third grade, sorry." I call my aide by the wrong name now and then, too. It's embarrassing, but the kids get a kick out of it.
- Since I wing it with lessons a lot, I have to force myself to sit down and do some long-term planning every so often so that I make sure I have the materials I need ready. You can't decide on the spur of the moment to make one-handed clocks to help teach time if you don't have clock faces pre-printed and paper plates, brads, etc. available. And it kinda stinks when I decide at 8:20 am that I'm going to have the kids all take an index card with a decimal on it and line up in order, when the kids are going to be in the room at 8:30, and I have nothing prepped.
- I get hopelessly behind on requesting copies easily and wind up having to send kids up to the office to ask for this or that.

If I schedule days for myself to sit down and take care of the business end of things (prep work and copies, mainly) then I do okay. It's really easy for things to spiral out of control on that end, though. But I absolutely love my job and my students love my class and do well academically, so I think I'm doing ok. :)

adultstudent
07-19-09, 10:59 PM
It is my dream to beocme a professor, and a lecturer (I love Greek philosophy)!

I'm 24, and just starting my college path. I guess that the ADHD always makes us start late, even in college.

I'm a lecturer at a university. Nice to meet you, peripatetic :)

Like peri, I'm good at giving lectures, I am analytical, I see the big lines. I like to interact with students.

I am bad at organization. And in fact, an important part of education is to organize things in a correct way. Being in time, having the lessons prepared, being clear to the students, reading students' work in time, putting the grades in our computer system etc. - I make a lot of mistakes in this field.

aloha1983
09-07-09, 06:17 AM
Hi there, I teach high school in Australia, grades 8-12. I find it suits me well as it's always different, plus you get a break to move between classrooms etc. It's funny because I stink at sitting in a class, but I can teach one!

What kills me is relief/supervision of other people's classes where they dont give you anything to teach eg. keep going with their assignments on the computer... so boring!