From the very beginning of the school session, it was obvious that Pete was different. He hopped from chair to table, from board to window. The boisterous lad wouldn’t concentrate or pay attention to lessons.
A medical expert came in and studied the situation. With time, he diagnosed Pete with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD). The teacher was relieved to know that Pete wasn’t being mischievous or difficult. Pete’s brain just wouldn’t allow him to be the great student he would have liked to be.
Pete’s parents were worried too. Like most students with ADHD, Pete’s grades plummeted. Most of the time, he was scolded and punished for misdemeanours. His peers didn’t hesitate to call him names and jeer at him. In no time, he lost confidence in himself.
“I hate my life,” Pete always told his parents. “Why can’t I be like everyone?” This scared his parents; they didn’t want to be like those Singaporean parents who ruin their children’s confidence.
There are many ways teachers can help students with ADHD learn, such as special needs tuition, but here are the top five of all the lessons I gleaned from Pete’s experience.
1. Be Patient. Consistent and Creative
The best teachers are usually the most creative. They are able to think on the spot. They can effectively create calm and conducive classroom environments.
Every teacher’s first approach should be to employ a great deal of patience, creativity, and consistency. Children have their own individual difference. Take steps to make learning easier and more interesting for the student. Revise your teaching methods to include more Montessori-inspired activities, and avoid anything that would distract the other students.
Employ strategies that will help you highlight the strengths of each child. With time, you will notice an improvement in the student’s performance. Not only will the student learn to his or her full capacity, the child will begin to complete classroom tasks. The attention-deficit disorder will no longer interfere with the child’s learning.
2. Have A Positive Attitude
A positive attitude is the most effective tool any teacher needs to help a student who has ADHD. Good teachers exhibit optimism in the classroom. Make your students comfortable and confident.
You can adopt a mantra like, “I believe in you. We can get through this.” Students come alive every time they hear encouraging words.
Research has shown that students perform better whenever an adult shows faith in their abilities. Take steps to motivate that student, and you’ll be surprised to see that they will complete their schoolwork and homework.
If you’re wondering how best to help your pupils learn, try offering words of assurance. When a teacher challenges their students to be on their best behaviour, the students often push themselves to earn the teacher’s approval and sincere praise. Be very generous with positive reinforcements.
Experts recommend that teachers create a point system for the pupils who had ADHD. For every point the student earned (either through good behaviour or high-quality classwork), the teacher offers a reward. Not only will this motivate the students to excel, it will most likely help create some order and predictability. Students who have attention-deficit disorder tend to function better in a routine-driven classroom environment.
3. Discourage Disruptive Classroom Behavior
As much as possible, come up with a series of warning signals to control the student who is dealing with ADHD. Teachers can introduce gentle shoulder squeezes, hand signals and so on. Attention-deficit pupils learn to focus whenever they notice the tutor’s warning gestures.
In addition, teachers must try to avoid embarrassing their students. Whenever there are complaints about the student’s behaviour, upbraid the student in the privacy of your office. As much as possible, ignore inappropriate behaviour especially when it’s unintentional and non-disruptive.
4. Adopt Creative Classroom Management Strategies
Another helpful tactic is for the teacher to introduce a few changes in the classroom. Research has shown that simple changes can help reduce the number of episodes of disruptions brought about by ADHD.
For instance, the teacher can change the student’s seating position. Instead of giving the pupil a window seat, position him right in front of the teacher’s desk. During tests, the teacher can go further to create quiet spaces for the learners who have ADHD. This will help them study without distractions and to complete whatever test they have been given.
5. Adopt Unique Teaching Methods
Education experts emphasize the importance of adopting the right teaching methods for unique situations and students. For instance, teachers might need to give instructions in bits. If necessary, use repetition to drive home your point. This will help the pupil learn to master the memory techniques they need to excel in exams.
Another trick is for the teacher to introduce the most difficult learning materials at the beginning of every school day. For example, you could put mathematics lessons early in the day. This way, the children have enough energy to learn the tougher materials.
As a teacher, you must make sure your lesson plans include creative instructional materials like pictograms, maps, graphs, colour codes and so on.
Learners who have ADHD can be taught quite easily, as long as the teacher has the will to help the child learn. My point is: where there is a will, there is a way.