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Practical ADHD Strategies - In the classroom

  • Broadcast in Self Help
Laura Rolands

Laura Rolands


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Join Laura Rolands, ADHD Coach and founder of My Attention Coach as she shares practical ADHD strategies that teachers, social workers and others can use in the classroom.  Spend 15 minutes to get tips to help resolve your toughest classroom challenges.


0:07 Laura Rolands

Hi, everyone. It is Laura Rolands and I just want to welcome you to Practical ADHD Strategies, and tonight we are talking about in the classroom. So, strategies that teachers, social workers, school psychologists can all use in the classroom to help your students with ADHD, but really my belief is that these strategies will really help all of your students. So, I am going to go ahead and get started. The first strategy I am going to talk about -- it really honestly surprises me that this is even something that comes up anymore, but I have heard feedbacks from parents that I talked to that sometimes the strategy is not being followed. If there is a child that is distracted or is diagnosed with ADHD, I really encourage the teacher to make sure that, that child is a) plays the way from students that they love to interact with, who are easily distracted by and b) that they are seated close to the teacher. So, when if you have a student that has ADHD, I do not care if he is the tallest kid in the class, there is a large benefit that you are going to get if you place that student close to you as a teacher and away from the distractions at the back of the room. So, thinking about distractions, I would also encourage you to think about what is distracting on the walls and on the desks, and this is probably more of a concern that I would have in elementary schools, but I think it can apply for older students as well.

1:59 Laura Rolands

When you look at your classroom, you have every single wall full of information and I know it is all valuable information. I would suggest having somewhere that you have either a part of a wall or even a full wall, that is really blank and that the child with ADHD can allow their eyes to rest in that place if they need a break from so much of a busyness that can be going on in a typical classroom, and I would say the same thing for desks as well. Again, especially thinking about the younger students. The next strategy is something I have called tickler file and I would love to get more feedback on this one, but I have not written in while the cool about it, where tickler files are something that adults use to help us remember to pay the bills as an example, and I think there is a way that students can use tickler files to help them remember when they need to get given assignments complete. So, if a high school student has a term paper to do, or perhaps high school student can set a tickler files so that they know on the second of the month, they have the note card to do; on the 10th of the month, they have the outline to do; and so on and so forth. The next strategy is about lighting and I believe that this can help students of all ages and that is to consider the distraction of the bright fluorescent light and there is actually some research that has been done by someone by the name of Helen Irlen.

4:00 Laura Rolands

That light that is too bright can cause distortion in written material and this can really impact students with ADHD. One of the solutions and there is many, but one of the solution is simply to turn off the overhead fluorescent light and may be have some task lighting or just more tabletop lens that you would have in your classroom. Just turning off those over headlights can really be helpful. In my office, I do not ever turn on the fluorescent lights because I just find them very distracting to my clients -- both students and adults. The next strategy is around self-advocating and I know that thumbs up is very familiar to parents of students with ADHD and other challenges around learning, but I would encourage teachers who teach students to self-advocate and social workers and psychologist, anyone that is working within the school system, but what I mean here is teaching the students to -- the school staff know what they need and what they think is going to work for them in their school day and what I find in coaching student is that you are often going to find they have the best answers inside of them and they may -- if I have got time tonight -- I have got about 17 strategies, I am going to cover. Chances are you talk to one of your students with ADHD; they are going to come up with number 18 that is probably going to be better for them.

5:58 Laura Rolands

So teaching them to self-advocate, to be more confident in what they ask for, can really help them gain a lot of empowerment as they get older and help them be successful. Strategy number six is to be flexible with the organization strategies. I love that when teachers work with students to teach them how to organize and what I would encourage you to recognize is that some students with ADHD, they might benefit greatly from the specific organization strategy or teaching, but they also might need some flexibility and that something to really keep them open mind about, so that you can really help them develop what is the right organization strategy for them and depending on their age, their parents of course, can give you some ideas there. Strategy number seven is to teach students how to plan and this is -- step one is really making sure that the students have a planner, so I know many schools should be certain about third grade to give students a planner and that is step one in the whole process, but then just teaching them how to plan, teaching them how to use it when teachers -- they sign off the planner everyday and requires the parents sign off on the planner everyday, that can just go a really long way to teaching them how to plan, but it is also telling them what they should write down. Here is the key points that you need to write down in your planner and then the biggest thing about teaching them to plan is also giving them enough time to write it down and keep in mind that students with ADHD are often going to have trouble with handwriting.

8:00 Laura Rolands

So it is going to take them a little bit longer to write down the assignment, I cannot tell you how many students I talked to that they just with ADHD, that they just do not have enough time to write down their assignment. They mean to and they probably need reminders, but they often need the time to do it. This next strategy is more of a study strategy than a classroom strategy, but I would encourage you to find ways to try and incorporate this into their studying that they do in class and have to read notes out loud and I find that many students with ADHD have benefited from reading their notes out loud to help them study and it goes a lot further than just reading them silently to themselves. Strategy nine is to avoid overloading students with too much information and really give them short directions, one or two steps long and when you think about applying this to the entire classroom, you can really look at, "Okay, here's my instruction", "Here are my instructions that I'm gonna give the class". And really look at it and say one, "Can I cut anything out?", "Is there any extra information?" and then two, just how can you deliver those instructions so, that it shorter and unless overwhelming to the students with ADHD. Strategy 10 is the bigger picture idea and it goes to a Seth Godin article that I have blogged about. I do not know, I guess it was about a month or so ago, but it talks about how we offer teaching students for jobs that are may be not as much part of our economy as they used to be.

10:08 Laura Rolands

Say, you know 75 to 90 years ago, I would say. And what I took away from Seth Godin's article is that how can we re-think things and how can we use more experiential learning. So, what I mean by that is to take student interests and how can you apply this to math and really get them engaged, or how can you tie social studies and science together. So that is really a bigger picture strategy, but I think students with ADHD, they learn by doing a lot easier than they learn just may be by their more traditional study methods. Strategy 11 is the fidget, and there is so many different ways that students can fidget and one -- I am just going to throw out a few and there is actually a book that couple of colleagues of mine wrote called, Fidget to Focus and Fidget to Focus have a lot more ideas, but a couple of ideas would be to allow the students to hold a small stress ball or those Koosh balls with knobby ends to it. Something for them that is tactile that they can manipulate and you have to make it work in your classrooms so if they are going to throw the ball to their friends, probably not a good strategy, but if it something that they can fidget with quietly that can really help. Just general movement, having physical breaks to build and move around, been able to walk to the back of the classroom, maybe take a laugh around on the classroom.

12:00 Laura Rolands

In a way that it allows them to release some energy, but it does not disrupt your classroom and in tied with this fidgeting is also I would really encourage you if you are an elementary teacher, do not take away recess and I understand that it is a natural reaction, okay if you do not get your work done, you are going to stay during recess to get your work done. It is okay to use that as an option, but really you probably taking recess away from the students that actually needs that physical intense movement for that 15 minutes of recess more than any other student in your class. So that could really backfire. Tied with that, I encourage you to just teach the value of exercise to the students and to make sure that you are really encouraging them to do, I have got amount of exercise everyday and that can just really help with ADHD symptoms. I was teaching a class tonight and someone mentioned brain gym and just doing some of those exercises where you were moving your arms across them already in line of your body to really get the brain, kind of moving back and forth, that can be really helpful as well. Exercise involve with something to set on in class. They can be really helpful. Actually, in my son's fourth grade class this year, they have them. I understand it can also help with posture. Obviously, we will do an exercise balls are really key. I understand some of the students have lost their privileges because they have been bouncing around the balls and stuff. You have to kind of set those rules up in advance. We have just about a minute left so I am just going to run through the last two strategies really quick and feel free to leave me a comment either here or over at myattentioncoach.com if you have any additional ideas or any questions or feedbacks that allowing students to stand, have them take a bathroom break if they seem like they cannot focus. Simple science instructions by reducing steps and unnecessary words and then having public praise for good behavior and giving them that public praise can go a long way. So, this is Laura Rolands of My Attention Coach, I really hope that these classroom strategies for ADHD have given you some ideas that you can implement in your classroom and like I say, I would love to hear more if you set them. Thank you very much. This is Laura Rolands of My Attention Coach.