Managing ADHD in the Classroom

Although Tom is no longer in my practicum class I am still passionate about learning more about ADHD within the classroom. I wanted to learn more about strategies and learning environments that are best suited for a student with ADHD. After looking through a few websites I came across this project: The Children’s Attention Project.

One thing that popped out to me is that they put ADHD in the classroom into perspective. Below is two tables, one that puts into perspective what the student is actually doing, ex: the student is curious, they are not trying to be disruptive. The other table digs deeper into what a student with ADHD might need from a teacher. I found this to be a great tool because it helps to see what is actually needed from the teacher.

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The next topic in which they cover is the physical environment of the classroom. This has been something I have always wondered if I was doing right when working with a student who has ADHD. Below is the projects tips to a positive environment for a student with ADHD.

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One tip that I find very interesting that I will try when I have my own classroom is using the “traffic light” cards. This gives the students a simple reminder that can have such a large impact on not only them but the classroom as a whole. I wonder if this could also be done with hand signals, for example holding up different numbers that would represent how much a student can talk. This way the student may look to the teacher and it is a simple hand up with three fingers held up, informing the student to stop talking.

The last topic that I enjoyed reading within this project is “Managing Behaviour”. This section actually gave me some great tips to use with a student I may have with ADHD.

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In this section I love the section “Corrective Feedback”. I love the idea of balance with rewards and positive reinforcement. I have seen this work very well within my daycare, which is interesting that I have been doing this already outside of the classroom.

Overall I believe that this project is a great resource to use when a student has ADHD within a classroom. I believe that a lot of these tips would help students without ADHD as well as students with ADHD. These strategies seem to be great habits to pick up as a teacher and I can see myself using when I have my own classroom.

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The Classroom Without Tom

After Tom moving schools I looked at the classroom dynamic. I was shocked to see the difference that it made. Work blocks were quieter, support time was less, and the students all worked well together with no complaints about each other. Tom moving had completely changed the dynamic of this classroom which made me think is this for better?

There are students within this class that had been in the same classroom as Tom since kindergarten, this meant six years of “interruptions” within their learning. These students were now old enough to acknowledge that they could not learn with his interruptions and they were being vocal about it within the classroom. As much as my sponsor and Tom’s support teacher worked with him on not interrupting, it was very hard for Tom to understand that his actions were disruptive.

This made me question a lot about inclusion. I ask myself if it is better that Tom is no longer in this classroom but rather in a classroom that can cater to his needs. I ask this because he was such a great asset to my grade six, seven practicum class. Tom added an exciting aspect to the classroom, he always had exciting facts to share, and loved to follow along with reading. There were many positive aspects to having him within the classroom but I question if he was meeting his full potential. I question inclusion because he could not successfully be in the classroom for a full day causing my sponsor to have to remove him from the classroom. Once removed from the classroom he is now not included, this makes me question “did we try everything”. At the end of the day we could not accommodate what he needed because he was not successfully learning.

I am constantly questioning if his move was the right thing to do. The school all seemed on board to supporting him make the move. The classroom has now had a positive change which can be seen through group work, independent work, and the playground. If there has been such a positive impact is this the best move, is it morally right, does Tom feel excluded? I am looking forward to learning more about inclusion in order to answer a few of the questions I am having.

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The Classroom Without Tom

After Tom moving schools I looked at the classroom dynamic. I was shocked to see the difference that it made. Work blocks were quieter, support time was less, and the students all worked well together with no complaints about each other. Tom moving had completely changed the dynamic of this classroom which made me think is this for better?

There are students within this class that had been in the same classroom as Tom since kindergarten, this meant six years of “interruptions” within their learning. These students were now old enough to acknowledge that they could not learn with his interruptions and they were being vocal about it within the classroom. As much as my sponsor and Tom’s support teacher worked with him on not interrupting, it was very hard for Tom to understand that his actions were disruptive.

This made me question a lot about inclusion. I ask myself if it is better that Tom is no longer in this classroom but rather in a classroom that can cater to his needs. I ask this because he was such a great asset to my grade six, seven practicum class. Tom added an exciting aspect to the classroom, he always had exciting facts to share, and loved to follow along with reading. There were many positive aspects to having him within the classroom but I question if he was meeting his full potential. I question inclusion because he could not successfully be in the classroom for a full day causing my sponsor to have to remove him from the classroom. Once removed from the classroom he is now not included, this makes me question “did we try everything”. At the end of the day we could not accommodate what he needed because he was not successfully learning.

I am constantly questioning if his move was the right thing to do. The school all seemed on board to supporting him make the move. The classroom has now had a positive change which can be seen through group work, independent work, and the playground. If there has been such a positive impact is this the best move, is it morally right, does Tom feel excluded? I am looking forward to learning more about inclusion in order to answer a few of the questions I am having.

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Saying Goodbye to Tom

About a month and a half ago I was informed by my sponsor teacher that Tom was officially accepted into Nuko, a school to help students who need more one on one time to increase their success rate. When my sponsor teacher was informed he was filled with joy that Tom would now have an opportunity to grow in an environment that fits his needs. Although there was joy for Tom’s future there was also many feelings of sadness. Tom’s departure also meant that the class’s spark of energy would be leaving within the next week.

Once I found out that Tom was leaving I ensured that I made it into the classroom to have the opportunity to interact with Tom a few more times. On arrival to the classroom I could instantly tell that Tom was off, he was upset, he was not himself. I approached him and asked him how his day was going and he responded with a simple “Meh, I’ve had better days” and completed the interaction with a shoulder shrug. This was NOT like Tom at all, the Tom I knew always had a spark in his eyes ready to make someone laugh. After this interaction Tom went outside for recess and interacted with his peers.

Once back inside a duty came in and told us the sight she had seen during recess. Tom had gone around to all of his friends he had made at this school since kindergarten and said his farewells and hugged his friends that gave him permission (which was rare for him to ask permission). Tom had shown that this change in his life was already helping him grow.

It was now time for the class to go to technology and my sponsor teacher pulled him aside and asked him to speak to us for a moment. As Tom came over to the desk he was calm again which was unlike him for the early afternoon. We asked Tom how he was feeling and he became even more quiet, which lead him to say that he was scared. He was scared to move schools, to loose friendships, and to not be as successful as everyone expected him to become. Tom knew the reasoning behind moving schools and he made us aware that he knew. This conversation turned into tears but quickly was brought back to a smile when success stories were shared with Tom of other students who had moved there before. We shared pictures and discussed him coming back to visit the classroom.

When leaving Tom it was bittersweet because he had brought me anxiety and worry within my teaching but turned out to be a student who will forever stay with me and my career as a teacher.


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Resources for Tom

https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/learning/learning_disabilities/teacher/#.WgCPAq2ZNok
Today I visited this website and found it very helpful for tips and tricks to help my teaching with Tom. Below will be a few of their tips I think will be helpful with Tom.

Alternate physical and mental activities: I believe this will be a very affective tool to use with Tom because he struggles to keep still throughout a lesson. I think that this will allow him to change his train of thought and re focus himself. Brain breaks will be something I will look into for my class.

Get in a habit of pausing 10 to 16 seconds before answering:I think this is very important to do within the classroom. I need to work on this more because I do not always pause when answering a question. By giving Tom that extra time to think might allow him to contribute to the conversation.

Do not confront lying by making children admit they have been untruthful:I found this one very interesting because I have previous been taught to discuss lying/ fibbing with students when it does come up. I will be looking into this tip further because Tom has a habit of lying and or putting words into peoples’ mouths.

Overall this resource I think will be very helpful in my journey teaching Tom. I am enjoying my time learning beside Tom and look forward to trying this tips and tricks with him in my next practicum.


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Halloween Week with Tom

First week of teaching everyday for practicum and it fell on the week of Halloween. Each and everyone of my students were excited every minute of every day. I asked my sponsor teacher how he controls the craziness of Halloween and his response was to just breath and accept that it will be a crazy week. Now this being said it was a crazy week for a student without ADHD, now to put Tom into a position where he must focus and learn on one of the busiest weeks of the year… I thought might be impossible.

Monday: Today was my first lesson of an ongoing science lesson, Tom goes home at lunch on Mondays and does not return therefore I did not have the experience of teaching him.  However the morning of observing and circulating gave me a lot of information on him. Math had just started when he had a small melt down about how stupid math is. He could not understand the need for math when he could find the answer on a calculator. This argument went on for about half an hour until finally my teacher explained to him that he was not ready to focus and allowed him to go to the lunch room to help put together lunches for the lunch program. After this he went home for the afternoon.

Tuesday: Halloween has arrived and the students are buzzing. There are witches, cats, cowboys, and farm animals all full of excitement and awaiting 2:37 to come so that they can start to celebrate. Tom walks in ten minutes after the bell (which is now a routine, starting at 8:55), he is wearing a black sweater, baggie jeans, necklaces, rings, and sun glasses. My sponsor teacher asks “who are you for Halloween”, Tom responded with holding up a necklace that read “GANGSTER”. My sponsor teacher responds appropriately and asks him to take a seat and get his silent reading book out. Once he has sat down his EA realizes he is wearing his sunglasses at his desk (the school rule on Halloween is no masks and because we cannot see his eyes they were consider a mask). Once asked to take them off it ticked him and there was no returning. He now believed we had ruined his costume and he struggled to realize that we only took away a small part of a costume. He soon came to the conclusion (after a lot of convincing) that he could wear them on his head and he would be just as cool. Once lunch recess came he went home for his regular lunch block and did not return back to school because he wanted to stay home.

Wednesday: Tom was absence from school today.

Thursday: The morning I spent with my sponsor teacher running the cross country event therefore I did not see how he interacted in class this morning. On arrival back to the school I had two lessons to teach and then they went to Fine Arts. The first lesson he was absent for because he was spending time with a support worker and counsellor. When he returned he was asked to join his science group to observe the changes that occurred to their bread mould. When asked to do this he looked at me and yelled “nope, I have better things to do” and ran out the door. I walked out the door to follow him and explain this is not the right thing to be doing. At this point he had already ran into the library and disturbed not only my class’ learning but now the students in the library’s learning as well. My sponsor teacher had now come to support me on bringing him back to class. I went back to the class and he brought him back into the room. On arrival Tom gave me an apology and told me he was ready to work. He observed the bread with a magnify glass but once asked to draw what he saw he looked at me and exclaimed ” that is so stupid I am not doing that”. At this point I told him that he needed to participate otherwise I would not be able to give him participation marks, this did not phase him. He then walked around the class disturbing other students working. I quickly stopped him and told him to sit at his desk and gave him a dot to dot work sheet to calm his body down. This worked for about five minutes and then he was up again disturbing groups. At this point my sponsor teacher asked him to take a walk to the office and return when he felt ready to come back (this was a daily occurrence for Tom if he could not handle the classroom). He left and did not return.

Friday: The end of a crazy week became crazier when a miscommunication lead to me teaching fifty students in a gym block. I was already nervous about teaching Tom in a gym setting and now I had to do it teaching fifty other students! I took a deep breath and told myself to look around at all the support I had in the room and decided to face my fear. Tom had two reminders the whole class to be respectful! Some of you may read that and say “wow he had to be reminded twice… why didn’t he understand right away”. Well I can tell you from my month of knowing Tom, he cannot stop himself from blurting and he cannot filter what he says. That being said two reminders was a big win! On arrival back to the class he had a pretty calm day, again reminders were given often but he always fell back to where he needed to be.

This week was a huge learning experience, although I feel that I was unsuccessful at getting Tom to complete his work I did however capture his attention in PE and my final science lesson and for me that was a huge win for the week! As I get to know Tom more and more I hope to learn different ways to communicate and teach him.


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Meeting Tom

The day I met Tom was my first day of practicum. I was nervous, excited and didn’t know what to expect. I was told there was a boy with ADHD in the classroom but I did not know who he was or what he looked like. Not knowing what he looked like soon changed upon meeting him that Monday morning.

8:55, walking in late, Tom walked in and yelled “Hello”. He was soon told that it was silent reading and he needed to respect the other students in the classroom. This calmed him down rather quickly. He read silently a book about lego but quickly changed to a book about dogs. This was interesting to see because I thought to myself “he is calm I don’t know what everyone is talking about”. Little did I know this boy could not sit for longer than ten minutes without having to get up from his seat, disrupt the class, and in some occasions go running out the door to the hallways.

I could not believe it this boy could not be controlled. He had a mind of his own and I, as a new student teacher, had no idea what to do if this happened during my lesson. Then I thought to myself “why don’t I ask him what he needs”.

The time then came that I had to teach the class for the very first time. Nerves were rushing through my body because of having to teach an intermediate class, let alone a boy who could go running out the door. I had asked the class to put their hands on their heads when they were done reading an example. I then went into a question without asking the students to transition. Tom became very upset very quickly. I calmed him down and asked him what was wrong, “you didn’t ask us to take our hands off our heads, so I couldn’t ask a question”. I had tipped him off by not wording my phrases properly. I could not believe that something I felt was a small detail was a large detail in his mind.

This experience on day one of meeting Tom was interesting and allowed me to grow as a teacher. Although it was a small growth I now know that it is important to phrase my teaching in a way that all students can succeed with. I am looking forward to working more with Tom and hopefully helping him with his learning.

Please keep in mind I have altered names for the security and privacy of all members involved.

 

 


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Why ADHD in the classroom?

When I was looking into inquiry projects I struggled to think of a topic that would further my learning. I obviously thought of a million topics I could do, however I wanted something that connected to my immediate learning I was doing this year. When having a conversation with a classmate the topic of a boy with ADHD in my practicum class was brought up. That is when she suggested I inquire further into this topic.

I never thought ADHD within the classroom would be hard to manage, I quickly found out I was quite naive… This practicum has been a wake up call to the lack of resources available for students with ADHD and I plan to research to find resources, tactics, and tips to helping these students succeed to their full potential within a classroom.

Throughout the next few months I will be talking to my immediate practicum contacts L.S., E.B, and E.J. to see direct resources in the Nanaimo, Ladysmith school district in order to help my student as much as possible. I will also be researching tactics online and hopefully creating a plan with this student to help his learning.


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