Whether or not identified as such, it is highly likely every teacher has at least one student who has ADHD in her classroom. In fact, it would be more unusual to only have one student with ADHD tendencies.
On ADDitudeMag.com Josh and Melinda Boring share these tips below on how teachers can bring out ADHDers best in the classroom. Teachers should note these tips can be helpful with other students, too!
Learning is Collaborative: Success in the classroom has to be a two-way street. Teachers, as well as students, have to be prepared for class to learn. Understanding an ADHD student’s unique challenges will help both teacher and student become a winning team. The tips that follow are from an ADHD student to clue teachers as to how ADDers learn best.
Grab My Attention: Sometimes it can be hard to tell if I am paying attention because I don’t always make eye contact, sit upright or even sit still; however, that does not mean I’m not listening. If you’re not sure, ask me to repeat what you just said instead of constantly asking if I’m paying attention. If I respond correctly, then I am. If I cannot repeat the information back to you, try to gain my attention before repeating it again.
Get All of Me Involved: It is very difficult for me to learn passively for extended periods of time. Sometimes all I need is repetition, once you have my attention, to learn. Get me as involved as possible because my brain does better with interactive learning. The more of my senses you address, the more engaged I will be. Please don’t just tell me what to do, show me how, and then have me show you I understand.
I Can Be Distracted, or Not Distracted Enough: Sometimes I don’t pay attention because I’m distracted; sometimes I need a distraction. A totally still environment can cause my ears and eyes to strain to determine where the distractions went. If I have something subtle to occupy me – two quarters to rub together or a small fidget toy – I am neither distracted nor seeking out distractions; I am relaxed and alert.
I Need Stimulation: Don’t take it personally if I seem bored. I have a difficult time motivating myself to do tasks that are not highly interesting to me. My brain craves constant stimulation, so even listening to soft background music through headphones helps keep part of my brain busy. Give me incentives, too. Small rewards help encourage me, so that I can pull my attention back to the work you want me to complete.
I Need to Move: My attention span is tied to my energy levels. I know my school tasks are supposed to get done while I’m sitting at a table or desk. But how am I supposed to go forward when my brain is in neutral. If I cannot move while I think, my engine will stall.
If a shutdown occurs, let me stand, move or shift gears before returning to the subject. Sometimes a movement break – a few jumping jacks – can jump-start my progress. This works much better for me than suggesting I buckle down to completing a task.
Lead the Way for Me to Learn: What I have learned in school is not always obvious, even to me. I need you to help me show what I have learned. When I have to answer a question, make the answer be a goal I want to reach and be proud of when I succeed. I need to feel as if you’re guiding me toward finding the answer.
Don’t Interrogate Me: If you tell me I’m not trying hard enough or not cooperating, my motivation and mindset become that of a prisoner locked in a room. When stress overtakes my mind, I drag around the mental and emotional chains of judgment – that I should know this, but I’m just not smart enough. Being interrogated, especially in front of my peers, does not motivate me, but discourages me from wanting to try.
Encourage Me, Don’t Shame Me: Sometimes I draw attention to myself without meaning to, like when I’m fidgeting and don’t know it, or when I’m staring off into space because my mind has wandered. I need your patient encouragement, not shaming or derogatory remarks. In fact, I need more positive reinforcement than my classmates, but I receive much less than they do because of my struggles.
I Want What You Want – Success: Believe me, I want to succeed. I am not acting this way to annoy you or to be disrespectful. My brain works differently, but it does work. I may miss a lot of the subtle cues, but if you like me and are on my side, I will know it and will work a lot harder than if you are just putting up with me.