Image of a hand writing words about the importance of professional development on a blackboard.

Eight minutes. I sat patiently with her, just the two of us, for eight minutes, and waited for her to rally her thoughts enough just to look at the page. Teaching students with ADHD is hard work.  And we have to know how to empower teachers in the classroom to endure that level of intensity and support.

I loved teaching, still do.  But it is not easy.  

Working with students with ADHD can be stressful and overwhelming.

This is the last blog post in my ADHD series:

Therefore, this blog post, the last in this series,  must acknowledge the unique challenges teachers face with ADHD students. 

Altogether statistics show that every class has at least one students with ADHD, and we are all in this boat.

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Tools that Empower Teachers in the Classroom

Overall, to work with students with ADHD means encountering multiple challenges:

  • Varying attention spans
  • Impulsivity
  • Varied learning styles
  • Poor self-regulation
  • Inability to read social cues

. . .  and more.

In order for the students to be properly supported, the teachers also need to be supported.

In an earlier blog post I shared about a group called Raising Healthy Children” (RHC). 

RHC  did a case study which addressed the important role teachers had in helping students with adhd in classroom.

Their success came, in part, from supporting the teachers as well as the students.

Now hold on . . . before I get you all excited. 😏 Although there may have been additional classroom support, that was not the most significant support RHC provided teachers. 

The most significant support for teachers appears to have been professional development.

Effective 🎉 professional development (pro-d).

And also teacher collaboration opportunities.  

Empowering teachers with pro-d.

Attending professional development that is targeted towards a better understanding of neurodiversity is important.  But telling us what ADHD is is not enough.

Of course, the empathy understanding creates is essential.  But that  is just the beginning place for the work that teachers need to do.

Teachers need tools, knowledge and skills to be able to support students with ADHD effectively.

By gaining a deeper understanding of ADHD, teachers learn practical strategies, such as differentiation, and are able to create inclusive learning environments.

This may sound dry, and even overwhelming.  Certainly not a quick fix. 

But personally, I found as I applied the strategies that I learned I had a far more dynamic, engaging and engaged classroom.  I enjoyed teaching more.

Was it a lot of work?  Oh ….. Absolutely. 😁

But was it worth?  No doubt about it!

My teaching journey included a lot of extra professional development because I spent years in learning support.  

I tried to share that with the classroom teachers, but it is hard to condense a 2 day conference into the 5 minutes a teacher has when they are overwhelmed and begging you for ways to support.

To empower teachers in the classroom we need to invest in their professional development.

More workshops and training sessions on managing ADHD in the classroom

Professional development topics can be largely dependent upon the school or district, and the topics are often not what the teacher feels they want or need.  

As a classroom teacher I wanted to really dig into my math program, and I was directed to split my time between two other areas of professional development.

Much of what I learned about supporting neuro diverse students was available to me only in my role as a Learning Support teacher, and through extra university course work that I took during summers.

A former administrator who moved into learning support after 30 years in education was surprised to learn what he didn’t know. 

Learning support teachers are sometimes bursting with training that they can’t implement as deeply as they would like to.

That frustration is actually why I shifted to the classroom.

So . . . if you feel you don’t have access to the training you need, you may be right.

What do the experts say?

Two well known authors, who write separately and together are doctors, and they have ADHD.

For videos,  check out the Youtube channel How to ADHD.

Between these books and videos you will learn a lot about your students, and about how to support students with ADHD in classroom.

Or even more about yourself, as was the case for me.  😏

For  strategies to support students with ADHD in the classroom check out my earlier blog post if you haven’t already.  

These strategies are not all encompassing, but they are a very good place to start and easily implemented.

How to know if the strategies will work

As I mentioned above, In my blog post, “How to Manage ADHD Behaviour in the Classroom” I share a case study done by  “Raising Healthy Children” (RHC). 

In both the blog post and the RHC study they key tools for empowering teachers are:

And, of course, the differentiation of instruction recommended by Dr. Hallowell, and shared in so many of my blog posts.

Specific activities I have implemented in my classroom are found on my post, ‘The best calming activities for ADHD at school”.

And, of course, your colleagues may be a tremendous resource.

Empowered teachers empower students

The idealis to have open communication among teachers who are working together, sharing ideas and creating a climate that communicates inclusion and diversity.

When teachers acknowledge the challenges they can collaborate, share experience, and implement strategies that are evidence-based.  

By supporting each other the teachers are also creating the supportive and empathetic environment they will need for this challenging but demanding work.

Teachers know how to empower teachers in the classroom, and collaboration is well supported by research. The challenge in many schools is finding the time to spend together.

Still, snatch those moments when you can talk to a colleague and ask questions. Don’t hesitate or feel like you should already know. Grab their tips for teaching students with ADHD.

I can guarantee you that most teachers are happy to share, and many teachers need answers just like you do.

You are not alone.

School wide strategies for empowering teachers

Implementing school-wide strategies creates an environment that supports a student throughout their education, not just when they are in your classroom.

You can advocate for more pro-d on the subject of neuro-diversity. 

You can advocate for school wide strategies and practices.

You can advocate for more support and resources.

Are their policies already in place that you are unaware of?  These policies may be within your school, district, or regional government.

The thing about policies is that they can exist, but unless people are aware of them they are not routinely enacted.

Hopefully, within those policies will be references of tools and support that you can access with which to support your students.  Furthermore, maybe there will be resources to support your students directly.

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How to empower teachers in the classroom to take the next step

ADHD is not something you can avoid. The likelihood of you having a class with no students with ADHD is very small, if not completely unrealistic.

As heavy as that may sound it is also liberating.  

Embracing that and seeking the best way to support students with ADHD in the inclusive classroom is also stepping into teaching at a different level. 

The doors are wide open to the wonderful journey ahead.

Truly, so much of what your neuro diverse students need from you is also just about creating an engaging and dynamic classroom.  

As you create a dynamic, differentiated, inclusive classroom you will know how to empower teachers in the classroom to be confident with managing ADHD in the classroom. 

Related blog posts:

Eleven Important Examples of Classroom Expectations and Rules

Do You Want to Build Classroom Community? Classroom STEM Activities Now!

Counting Collections: How to Build Classroom Community Teaching Numeracy

How to strategies for student engagement

How to include Social Emotional Learning Activities All Day Long

Tales of : Why is Differentiation in the Classroom Important?

How to Understand the Impact of ADHD in the Classroom

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