This One Strategy Will Help ADHD Students Succeed In The Classroom…

Educators all around our nation are preparing to start another school year with the hopes of making a difference in the hearts and minds of our next generation. This is about the time when teachers receive their class lists and data from previous years on each student that they will impact for the next 10 months. Teachers sift through and read up on each student to determine groupings, strategies, learning issues and behavior problems. Sadly, certain students have reputations that precede themselves as being difficult and it’s usually the students with ADHD.

The main symptoms of ADHD

Hyperactive: They seem to be always in motion. A need to touch and play with objects around them. They are usually very talkative and social. A tendency to fidget and seem restless.

Impulsive: It’s difficult for them to filter their actions and words. It takes them a longer time to understand that there are consequences to their actions. It’s hard for them to wait their turn. They make quick decisions without considering long term outcomes.

Inattentive: They become easily bored. Constantly having to be re-directed to what needs to be accomplished. It's hard for them to organize their time and tasks. Frequently forgetting homework and deadlines. As a result of being easily distracted, assignments are not completed on time or not turned in altogether.

Hopefully the ADHD student has an IEP that gives teachers strategies on how to best help the ADHD student. It is very common for the ADHD student to have other learning disabilities and issues in addition to ADHD, such as Dyslexia, ED (Emotional Disturbance), and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) . It’s important for both the school and parents to combine their efforts to identify and help the ADHD student with learning and accessibility needs.

The strategies that are usually suggested for students that have ADHD are preferential seating (usually in the front of the class away from windows), or sitting alone to eliminate distractions, shorter assignments, review what was learned or about to be learned, using visuals, check off charts or sticker charts to show completed tasks or positive behaviors, several breaks, and having a tactile object to squeeze or manipulate to help with focusing and alleviate tension. These strategies do help but fail to reach the heart of the ADHD student.

This one strategy will help them succeed

Give the ADHD student the opportunity to Lead.

To be appointed as a leader of anything means that people believe in you, you are held accountable, you meet high standards, your actions matter. You are asked to serve and teach others. You need to be intentional with your words and actions. You are helpful, kind and want others to succeed.

The strengths of those with ADHD

Those who have ADHD have had to work harder, understand defeat, feel as if they were not good enough and a disappointment to their peers, teachers and parents. Due to these struggles, ADHD students develop amazing strengths that are ideal leadership qualities.

  • Hyperfocus
  • Resilience
  • Generosity
  • Risk Takers
  • Spontaneous
  • Great sense of Humor
  • Compassionate
  • Persistence
  • High Energy
  • Drive
  • Good Communicator
  • Motivator

Giving an ADHD student a leadership role in your classroom will help him/her turn the corner to taking ownership of their words, actions, and deeds. Helping them concentrate and follow through on a given task that is asked of them, nurtures their ability to hyperfocus and the persistence needed to complete a task. This is not easy. Teachers will need to be consistent, intentional and know that there will be many setbacks. This consistency may take half the year to incorporate, but will be a positive life long influence that will initiate a new way of thinking.

What does this look like in a classroom

Your initial statement could sound something like…“Johnny, I noticed that you have some incredible skills and talents. I know that you would make a great leader in our class. Great leaders are dependable and work hard for their team. I’m confident that if I give you a task you will complete it. I’m going to start with giving you some jobs in my classroom that I know you can help me out with”. The tasks could be: doing errands for you, taking role, keeping track of missing assignments, the go to person when you have a substitute teacher, organize books, line leader, takes equipment out for recess or Gym class, helps students that are stuck on an assignment, etc… There are so many duties and responsibilities that can be delegated to students, especially those that have ADHD.

Knowing that the teacher depends on you to help, legitimizes you. You are not the loser that everyone says you are. It gives you a feeling of accomplishment. Validation makes you want to please and help because for some reason this teacher believes in you.

Teachers need to hold their ground and expect the assigned task to be completed. In the beginning the student will want to give up and say they really don’t want to or can’t finish the task a teacher gave them. When the task is complete, make a big deal about how dependable the student was and thank them for finishing what was asked. Now they have been rewarded twice. First with a positive feeling of finishing a task and then gratitude from someone that believes in them.

Final Thoughts

Helping an ADHD student feel important and acknowledged will motivate them to continue the behavior you expect of them. Eventually this new way of thinking will take over and they will learn to channel their energy into a positive direction. They will understand and know what it feels like to follow through on a task. This by no means will “cure” an ADHD student. There is no cure for ADHD. However, there are positive ways to channel ADHD to work for you rather than against you.

Giving an ADHD student the ability to be a leader in a classroom and the encouragement along the way will boost their confidence. They will start to utilize and channel their strengths to help them become successful in life. This is what it takes to make a difference in the hearts and minds of our next generation.