Teaching is a job that does not end when the dismissal bell rings at the end of a busy day. The teacher of 2015 is an educator, mentor, counselor, nurse, and crowd control expert. Teachers stand out in the rain to assure students board the right buses and get into cars with pre-approved “pick-up” people. They wipe tears, stop arguments, apply band-aids, and share their snacks with the child who doesn’t have one.
When kids go home, teachers stay behind to meet with parents or prepare their class assignments for the following day. They stay up late planning lessons and grading papers. Yes, teachers are professionals who take pride in their ability to multi-task while efficiently managing a classroom full of fourth graders.
That well-defined system of order and cooperation can be quickly dissolved into chaos if teachers don’t have innovative, effective strategies to manage the children in the classroom who have ADHD. The following behavior management strategies can help teachers maintain a daily routine that works for all students, especially those with ADHD or other behavioral disorders known to interfere with the learning process.
Plan Your Classroom Seating Carefully
Kids with ADHD need lots of supervision and one on one attention. Large circular tables with six or eight students sitting around them are a nice touch in the classroom, unless you have kids with ADHD in the group. Behavior management is much more positive for students with ADHD if desks are placed in rows. This allows each student to have a well- defined individual space. Kids with ADHD are more likely to focus on the teacher if his desk is facing her. It is a good idea to place students with ADHD in the front of the classroom to minimize distractions.
Try not to place a student with ADHD near doors, windows or activity centers in the room. Gentle reminders, such as a touch on the shoulder or asking the student a direct question when he appears restless or distracted will help center the student’s attention and remind him to remain seated.
Post Classroom Rules Conspicuously and Review Them Regularly
Kids need rules. Students with ADHD need reminders and visual aids to remember them. Be sure your students are aware of what the classroom rules are, and what the consequences will be if the rules are not followed. Ask students for input when making classroom rules. Colorful posters and charts should be posted in the classroom for visual reminders of the expectations of classroom behavior. Kids with ADHD have problems with working memory and need frequent reminders regarding classroom procedures and guidelines.
De-Escalating Anger Outbursts and Emotional Meltdowns
Students with ADHD are impulsive. Anger can escalate quickly and unexpectedly. Your response to an outburst can be the key to de-escalation. Always respond is a quiet, affirming tone. Model the behavior that is expected by remaining calm and collected. If necessary, remove the student from the group for his safety and the safety of others. Ask the student if he needs to go to the quiet place for a few minutes. You may want to provide a stress ball for him to squeeze to assure he keeps his hands to himself. Counting to ten, and deep breathing can also help a student calm down. After the outburst is over, talk to the child about ways that the situation might have been avoided.
How to Minimize Interruptions
Students with ADHD have problems with impulse control. They talk out of turn and interrupt others when they are talking. There are things teachers can do to help their students with ADHD learn to control some of those impulsive behaviors. Have an agreed upon signal or gesture to remind your student with ADHD that he is interrupting inappropriately or speaking out of turn. Children love to be praised for doing the right thing. If you notice your student with ADHD waiting patiently, raising his hand, or controlling his impulsive behavior on his own, be sure to recognize his accomplishment. If you praise him in front of his peers, he will be likely to try to repeat the proper behavior in the future.
Kids with ADHD are smart, enthusiastic and can be a joy to teach. These behavioral strategies can help curb the inappropriate behaviors associated with ADHD and assist you in creating a positive learning environment for all of the students in your care.