Sunday, December 30, 2018

Tips for Teachers with ADHD

There are lots of resources available to tell teachers how to help students with ADHD. But, what do we do if we're the ones with ADHD and we're struggling to keep our heads above water?

When ADHD is taking over and you're having difficulty keeping up with parent contact logs, remembering due dates for progress reports and report cards, staying on schedule, grading papers in a timely manner etc you can feel like you're failing as a teacher. That's simply not true.

Here are 10 tips for teachers with ADHD or who find themselves overwhelmed.

1. Write everything down. I have both a standard planner where I put my future dates in and a bullet journal that I add to as I go a week or two at a time. The more times I write something, the more likely I am to remember it. Go digital too. I didn't start using my outlook calendar until five years into my teaching career. I don't know why. Sync it with your phone. Set reminders for important dates and times.

2. Set mini-goals. I chunk my grading so that I am not worried about grading 20 essays at once but five at a time. I also use timers to do this. I do 20-25 minutes of work with 5-10 minute breaks in between. Just make sure you have enough mini-goals to actually complete the big goal in the time frame you desire.

3. Create routines for yourself. Have a morning routine, a planning period routine, and an afternoon routine. When you get to work what do you need to do? Check e-mail? Set-up the whiteboard? Cue up a video or bellwork? Read your lesson plans? Check your calendar? What about before you leave for the day? Clean off your desk? Erase the board? Check e-mail? Call parents? Make copies for the next day? Spot clean the room?

4. Create routines for your class. What can you have the students do that will make your job easier? Can you assign each student a number that they put on their papers so it's quick and easy to alphabetize them to enter grades faster? Could students but all their bellwork for the week on one sheet so there is less to collect and respond to? Is having each class take the last 30 seconds of the period to pick up any paper or trash from the floor an option? Would having students do silent reading for 10 minutes at the start of every class give you a chance to collect your thoughts and take attendance before launching into your lesson? Find what works for you.

5. Get rid of everything extra. Think about your class, what assignments are not giving you a good return on investment. Not everything has to be graded and entered into the grade book. Simplify. Don't do things just because you think you have to because of how you were taught.

6. Figure out what works for you. Do you prefer to collect assignments digitally or on paper? Which keeps you more organized? Which saves you time?

7. Plan ahead.  On Thursday or Friday review what you plan on teaching the next week. Make all the copies or put all the assignments into your LMS like Google Classroom or Moodle. If using paper, have a file box with files for each day of the week for each subject you teach. This should help you relax over the weekend.

8. Close your door. If you get distracted easily by colleagues or students stopping by just to chat, shut your door during your plan periods and before or after school. Use your planning periods for planning and grading. Socialize at lunch to give yourself that well-deserved break.

9. Automate everything possible. I use the Remind app to communicate with my college students, but if I'd had it as a middle or high school teacher I would have used it with parents as well. One of the best features is that you can schedule ahead of time texts to go out. So, when you plan a unit or at the start of each month look at the calendar for any big dates and schedule your reminders. When are field trip forms due? When is the big test? What is the last day you're accepting work for the quarter or semester?

10. Give yourself a break. Teaching is hard for everyone and in many ways, it can be much harder for teachers with ADHD. You don't have to be perfect. Take care of yourself. Make sure you build time in your schedule to unwind. You can do this!

I'd love to hear what systems you have in place to help you be the best teacher you can be! Let me know in the comments