Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The A.D.D. Teacher

When I was in elementary school, my report cards often mentioned that I needed to improve my self-control. I wasn't a disruptive, mean, or obnoxious kid, but I did have trouble staying focused on a task. I needed boundaries. I needed to be given the perameters that I could operate under. Ms. Stack, my first grade teacher, was excellent at keeping me in line.
Throughout my school career, I often struggled with the ability to focus in class. No one ever tested me for A.D.D., a byproduct of my generation. Had I been born, ten years later, I would have spent my childhood hopped up on prescription medicine.
But today, my self-diagnosed A.D.D. plays out in the classroom still. At the beginning of the school day, I tend to focus on the lesson at hand. By sixth period, I can become distracted by just about anything. My seniors enjoy this very much. Of all the students to have during the last period of the day, the senior could possibly be the worst. But I love 'em.
I love that they feel comfortable enough to draw me off task. Many students either don't care enough or are too worried to. I've never had a class so interested in my every day life--from what I choose to wear to what my daughter was for Halloween. Now, if I could just keep myself from always going down the bunny trail!


At 6:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 14 year old son always seems to know which teachers can be drawn off task. With one it is to talk about baseball, and so on. These teachers are often the kids favorites. I guess they can relate better to the real person.
It seems a lot of the parents of the ADD kids I treat are pretty clear on which teachers have ADD also.

At 9:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see that this post was left years ago, but interestingly it is the ONLY website that comes up when one searches "'ADD Teachers'" in google. I'm currently getting my certficiation (and Master's) as a Special Education teacher and have grown up with ADD but am medicated. After struggling all those years in middle school high school and then college to work against the ADD as a student, I now find myself facing all new challenges as my ADD affects my teaching. If you think distraction is hard, try low workign memory, difficulty remembering procedures, poor concept of time, poor estimation of time to be spent on different tasks, difficulty with classroom management, poor material organization and so on. I failed my secodn practicum placement because I was always so frantic when switching between tasks and never appeared well-composed. If you have any advice for the above ADD symptoms, PLEASE let me know.


At 2:21 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Sunburntpixy,

As a former middle and high school teacher, an adult with ADD and an ADD Coach, I am very well aware of the challenges of teaching. I can offer a few tips:
1. Be aware of your challenges and strengths.
2. Create structure and routines in the areas that present challenges for you.
3. Create a strategy to organize yourself and anticipate transition times.
4. Stop and think:)
5. When you've tried everything and still need help, reach out for help.

I wish you the best,


Marla Cummins, MS, CPCC, ACC, ADD Coach
Professional Certified Coach

Visit http://www.marlacummins.com to request your Free newsletter, "ADDed Perspective."

At 2:43 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. McNamar,

As I noted in my post above, I am a former secondary teacher. I also worked in academic support at Boston University. I am now an ADD Coach and am very interested in connecting with teacher and other academics with ADD - AD/HD.

I have been contacted by teachers with ADD who are having difficulty accessing resources. I have a blog, ADDed Perspective, http://marlacummins.com/wordpress/.Would you consider adding it to your blogroll?

I would be happy to talk with you further.

Best regards,

Marla Cummins,

Marla Cummins, MS, CPCC, ACC, ADD Coach
Professional Certified Coach
Visit http://www.marlacummins.com to request your Free newsletter, "ADDed Perspective."

At 11:08 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am teary-eyed reading this. I am a Family and Consumer Science teacher in an inner-city middle school, and am having a very difficult time. Every day, lately, I want to cry, and run away from school. My recent eval. was my lowest in these four years of teaching. I was never even considered as being ADD, or anything but a "daydreamer". I come from a family of teachers, and my mother still refuses to believe my psychologist's, and my self-diagnosis of ADD. I always knew something was different about me, and even wondered as a child if I had a form of epilepsy. I have always been considered as bein "very creative", but I have such a hard time organizing my house, my 4 kids, and my classroom. Teaching is the only occupation I've ever had that I feel I am where I should be. I feel that I need medication. I am on Lexapro for anxiety, and when I tried a med before for ADD, I was quick to anger. I am considering teaching pre-k, or art, where I feel I will be less frazzled, and not so criticized by my students. Any suggestions?

At 8:25 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I had a helpful comment for you, but I'm asking for advice. I was planning to go into a teaching program for special needs, but am having second thoughts because I have ADD. I just started medication and therapy. Do you think I should reconsider this direction?

I'm sure that you are a wonderful teacher. It's too bad that there are so many organizational skills that are necessary for the job. I think teaching art would be a wonderful direction, which I would love to do also, but thought there weren't that many jobs in that area. Because you already are a teacher, maybe that won't be a problem. Good luck! I understand your anguish; remember, it's the ADD and not you!

At 5:19 PM , Blogger Thailand said...

Hey! I am a fellow teacher a little further north in Canada! I too am a teacher with ADHD and have taught for 8 years. In the 8 years I have taught I have learned a lot, but I have to say I still feel I am a square peg in a round whole. People, educators, students enjoy connecting with me because I can really sense what it is like to walk in their shoes. While this is one fantastic opportunity providing structure and consistency is a HUGE struggle and though I am finding ways of coping, I have to say it can be exhausting.

I am still learning a lot, but the one thing I have found to work in my favor is to be honest. Some how by sharing my story I find colleagues who encourage me and administrators willing to find a way for me to make sense of it all. I know every day is a battle but I have a deep faith and great friends who cheer me on all the time. I would never be able to keep going without them. Maybe we need to start a sharing circle somewhere on line!!! Perhaps we could help each other in the trenches! Good luck, God bless, and keep going!

At 6:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too am an ADD teacher in Canada. I am currently on meds for anxiety. LATELY, it seems like I am putting in so much extra effort just to cover the basic organization, remember all the details of everyday elementary teaching (i.e., which students are coming in late, or leaving early for the doctor, all the notes which must go out each day, the organization of materials and marking, emails from parents, etc.) To the teacher who is planning to do art or pre-K, perhaps have a team of parent volunteers could help with the organization of materials and cleanup - provided that you are clear in your directions to them (so that they do not become frustrated). Take the time to think about things in advance. Recognize that you have special gifts in creativity that others may not, and try to find a way to share your suggestions so that YOU realizae your value to your teaching team.
As well, if you have four children at home, you are already managing quite a bit. Maybe half-time work would be a good compromise for your family's, and your health.
Anyway, we are all made differently and although it may seem like ADD teachers have an extra buren, I still think we can make valuable contributions. So hang in there.

At 11:01 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh....I could cry. You people get me! I am soooooo ADD (self diagnoised). I'm a great Special Ed teacher but am having difficulities in my job that are catching up with me. Their is such shame. Administrators have been vindictave and unsupportative. ie "That is an excuse and their are NO EXCUSES!"

Granted, I can and will admit my faults but they can't see past always blaming me for everything. It is like the boy who cried wolf. She's a mess so everything is her fault.

I know I need to get a dr to diagnosis me. I feel like I use sooo much energy spinning my wheels that I get nothing accomplished. The harder I work the worse it becomes.

At 12:58 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow- hi all fellow ADD teachers!
I was diagnosed at 33, almost wrecked my own life and that of others around me in the meantime. Medicated initially only for 6 months- my life turned around in the most amazing way. Thanks also to my Lord. I am now 40, just finished my Bachelors in Communications and English as well as a Grad Dip in Education, to become registered as a teacher, and will be commencing my Masters in a couple of weeks. As a teacher with ADD i find i keep it to myself, but boy does it help me help kids in the classroom. I love my ADD. I love understanding myself and others. I love that i can jump from one thing to the next, and thank God for my diagnosis.
Forthought is the key, dont get caught without a plan.

At 10:23 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Teacher of Gifted Kids. I am ADHD and teach
part time 40%. I have been given a new assignment of
teaching Science to grades 1-5. I also caregive or stay with my 91 yr old dad in the afternoons and all night. My concern is that I have no real work space at school. I am
a corner of another Teacher's room who is teaching all the time I am trying to work , think and plan. I have been toldthere is no more space for me to work. Although there area coupe of spaces with possibilities. I am good at what I do and get great response from the students. I need my own space. What rights do I have, and please make some suggestions.

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