Best Practices for Teaching Students with ADHD (Guest Post)

ADHD tips stickerA classroom is a microcosm of society, and just like in any society, there are outliers who stand apart from the majority. As a teacher, you strive to keep your classroom fair and develop your lesson plans to suit the various spectrums of learning. At some point, you may encounter a student with ADHD who poses a challenge for your standard classroom management techniques and your carefully curated curriculum. A student with ADHD has the brainpower for learning, however their unique brain composition makes it difficult for them to focus on the subject matter. The more you understand this condition, the more you can help your student.

What Is ADHD?

About 11 percent (6.4 million) of school-aged children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD in their lifetime. Boys have a higher ADHD diagnosis rate than girls, and the average age of diagnosis is at 7 years of age. Make sure you know the signs of ADHD so you can recognize when a kid may need special help.

The symptoms of ADHD are grouped into three categories: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Behavioral signs related with inattention include: easily distracted, doesn’t follow directions, fails to finish tasks, has difficulty with organization. Hyperactivity can manifest itself behaviorally as excessive talking, always moving, difficulty with volume control, inability to stay seated and fidgeting. Impulsivity includes blurting of answers, unable to wait for his or her turn and interruption of others.

Classroom Challenges

A child with ADHD will cause interruption within the classroom and may have difficulty in the completion of their individual tasks. You must anticipate their behavior and develop appropriate reactions that will keep the mood positive, help the child with ADHD and keep your entire class on track with their learning. In the classroom, children with ADHD may struggle with long-term projects, group work, difficult math equations, reading and writing. Regardless of your ADHD student’s struggles, make sure you never shame him for his behavior, but instead encourage him or her towards academic success.

Have a brief conference with the ADHD student and come up with a secret code or signal for when he or she is distracting the class and must re-focus his attention, like a hand signal or a light shoulder tap. Don’t over-do the signals; refrain from pointing out every instance when he or she is off task and only the moments when his or her behavior is a distraction for the whole class.

How You Can Help

Create classroom accommodations for your students with ADHD. Seating assignment can help limit distractions in the classroom. Make sure they are seated away from the windows and the door, put them near your desk and organize the classroom desk formation in rows, rather than table groups. Deliver task instructions in a clear and concise way. Write on the board step-by-step instructions that the students can easily follow and provide other visuals like charts and pictures.

Allow writing assignments to be completed on a computer, rather than in handwriting. A student with ADHD often thinks faster than he or she can write, which can result in messy handwriting and a loss of cohesive thought. Utilize writing prompt tools to help the student practice their composition skills. Help the student with his or her organization and provide the entire class with five to 10 minutes of desk organization and cleaning time at the end of the day.

Work one-on-one with your ADHD students and come up with a special organization system for them. A strong organizational system may include color coding, a three-subject notebook or three-ring binder, and a planner where he or she can write down important assignments and due dates.

About the author: Joyce Wilson is a retired teacher with decades of experience. Today, she is a proud grandmom and mentor to teachers in her local public school system. She and a fellow retired teacher created TeacherSpark.org to share creative ideas and practical resources for the classroom.

 

5 Things Substitutes Wish Full Time Teachers Knew (Guest Post)

Subs Wished Teachers KnewAbout the Author: Christine writes her own blog called Confessions of a Modern Day Substitute Teacher. She has been working in the education field for 7 years as both a teacher and substitute.

1) Substitute teaching jobs can be hard to find

Sometimes there are A LOT of substitutes in a division or district. This means that it is difficult to pick up sub days for a substitute. As a substitute teacher I wish that any teacher that liked what I did with his or her class and didn’t have a regular substitute already would ALWAYS book me. Maybe this seems greedy but it gives me a day that I don’t have to try to compete for online.

2) A substitute’s time is valuable too

So please give us a bit of a break at some point throughout the day. I’ve been a teacher so I know that we often work through recess breaks, on our preps, and maybe even for part of our lunch as well but you don’t have to fill up a substitute’s time with marking on her prep and recess’… because sometimes we need a break too. Don’t get me wrong… I’m more than happy to do some marking. Just don’t leave a large stack of it expecting me to get through it.

3) Please talk to us

I wish regular teachers knew how awkward it can be in a staff room for a substitute teacher. I’m not the most outgoing person so having to sit in a room filled with people I don’t know… well it’s awkward. The other week I was at a school, in a crowded staff room, and no one said anything to me. It was awkward and I quickly ate and left.

4) Try to make the day run as smoothly as possible

I wish teachers realized that I don’t know your students names (and I likely won’t learn them all by the end of the day)… so if at all possible seating plans are a HUGE help. That way instead of saying “you in the red shirt, sit down!”, and having everyone check the colour of their shirt, I can just use that student’s name. When I was a full time teacher I used a little whiteboard that I tacked above my desk to draw in all the tables and where students sat. I moved students around as they began to cause trouble where they were so using a whiteboard meant I didn’t have to redraw and write everything every time.

Be wary of leaving a bunch of extra time for a substitute teacher to fill. I’m experienced enough that I could probably get through an entire day without a proper plan… but that doesn’t mean I want it to happen! Other substitutes don’t come with as much experience or ideas on what they could do to fill time. If a substitute arrives at your classroom with no plan I think it is unfair to expect the day to go well. I wish teachers knew that any visitor to their class does not know where to find things. Keeping things neat, tidy, and organized helps a lot. This way substitutes don’t have to waste a bunch of time trying to hunt things down that to the regular classroom teacher would easily find.

Fire drills, lock downs, and other events students practice for are often scheduled in advance and staff members usually know about them (at least in my school we always did). If you know there is going to be a drill of some kind I wish the regular teacher would let their substitute know about it. Once I was in a middle school that despite being with a different class every period I was required to find my homeroom outside and take their attendance. What chaos! I couldn’t remember what my class looked like to even attempt to find them then I had to figure out if they were in the front or back of the school! For lock-downs, remember to leave a key and tell me where the kids normally sit.

5) But most importantly…

My wish for teachers is to keep in mind that for the most part substitutes are in a different school or classroom or subject every day. This means new rules, procedures, students, and assignments every day. Although it can all fall under the umbrella of “teaching” it can also seem a bit like a new job every single day. Can you imagine going to a new job every day? Do you think some of your days may be a little off? So regular teachers, my wish for you is to be prepared and understanding when a substitute comes into your class.

Thank you, Christine, for this thought-provoking post! 🙂 -Mindy

Get to Know Your Reading Buddy/Neighbor

My Neighbor sticker When I was in elementary school, my class was always partnered with another class so we could do “Reading Buddies.” My school always partnered a younger grade class with an upper grade class so we could get together and read each month. This provided us a unique opportunity to read to/listen to another student. Each kid was assigned a kid from the other class and we were partners the whole year. We occasionally did a craft or something with our reading buddies as well. Anyway, it was fun to get to know my partner as the year went on.

My Buddy sticker

This inspired me to make 2 little “get to know you” pages that teachers can use within their own classroom or between classrooms of students in an arrangement like “Reading Buddies.

Click here for the free printable: Get to Know Your Buddy and Get to Know Your Neighbor. Enjoy!

Squarehead Teachers Birthday Giveaway!

Happy 3rd birthday, Squarehead Teachers!

Let’s kick of this school year right! Another giveaway to celebrate the 3rd birthday of this blog!  I’m so thankful to all my family, friends and readers for making this blog such a fun success!

Stamp photo 3 giveaway

**This giveaway has ended!**

The Prize: 2 winners will each receive 2 Stamp Stations! Stamp Stations are new and unused. Each has 6 self-inking stamps in one, all centered around a theme (writing, for example). This blue one is all about motivating good writing traits, with stamps like “Topic sentence?” and “Sentence variety please!”

Stamp photo 2

 

Here’s the detailed image of the stamps:stamp detail - blueEach Stamp Station has a theme, and the winners will each receive 2 Stamp Stations.
P1070965P1070964

 

Participating in this birthday giveaway is simple. All you have to do is follow this blog. If you’re already a follower, then you’re already entered! If you still need to follow this blog, you can accomplish this one of two ways:

OPTION 1: (Available to WordPress members only), click the “follow” button at the top of the page to follow with your WordPress blog reader.
follow on wordpressOPTION 2: Click the “follow” button in the right sidebar to follow this blog via email.
follow via email

This giveaway ends at midnight (PST) on Friday, August 21, 2015. Don’t wait!

The Fine Print: Participation is optional. No purchase is necessary to participate. Available to US participants only. There will be two winners. Winner will be randomly selected. I will email the winner between Saturday, August 22 – Sunday, August 23. The winner will have 72 hours to respond and provide me with shipping information so I can mail them their prize! If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, the winner forfeits the prize and another winner will randomly be selected (in which case the new winner will be notified and the same terms apply).  The winner will be announced on this blog once eligibility has been confirmed. This giveaway is solely sponsored by Squarehead Teachers and is not affiliated with WordPress or any other sponsor. If you have additional questions, please contact me!

**This giveaway has ended!**

Interview A Classmate (Back to School Printable)

Class icebreaker activities are always fun. Here’s a simple way to get to know your students while assessing their writing. It’s a simple “Interview a Classmate” activity, free over at my post on We Are teachers. Click here to hop on over there!

Interview a Classmate preview

Goal Setting Sheet

A while ago, I posted this on We Are Teachers. If you haven’t hopped over there to check it out, you should. There are tons of great ideas over there. This page is another good back to school page. It’s all about setting goals for the year. Click here to go to my post.

 

Goals preview

Learning Styles Survey

Here’s one of my recent printables over at We Are Teachers! It’ll be great for your first week of school when you’re learning about your new students and planning how you can create the best learning environment for them. Click here to go to my post.

How Do You Work Best preview

 

Teacher Chat!

Teacher Chat - TealI’ve decided to start learning more from other teachers around me. I’m eager to start conversations with other teachers to learn from them. I’ll be sharing what I learn in a series called “Teacher Chat!”

Chat with Diane from the USA

What grade(s) do you teach/have you taught? 2nd & 3rd

What’s one thing you do to prepare for/get through parent-teacher conferences?

I have students write a fill-in-the-blank letter to their parents telling what they like about school, their hardest and easiest subjects, their friends. At the conference, that letter is the first item in their folders. I have the student read it to their parents which gives us a great starting point for talking about reading, or whatever their strengths and weaknesses that they wrote about.

What’s one of your favorite end-of-the-year activities to do with your class?

I love to give each student an award. (There is a great list on squareheadteachers.com.) This is the last thing we do before they leave on the last day. We put the chairs in a big circle and then I pass them out, telling a little about what the student did to earn the award. We let each person determine which cheer they want us to give them for their award. It’s a super positive way to end the year.

 What’s one thing you do to encourage good behavior in your class?

Tired of tattling, I made a “Caught InThe Act Doing Something Good” spiral notebook. When kids notice someone doing something good, they write it in the notebook. I read it once a week, kids loved it!

Tell us about one thing you wish you’d known when you first started teaching.

I will never be “caught up” or “finished” with the things I want to do for my class. So, don’t stress, do what you can, then go home and have an enjoyable life outside of teaching.

 What gets you through a hard day?

On hard days, I like to remember the small things that I am making a difference on with individual kids – especially the tough ones.