On the last track, we discussed a guideline for effective home-school
partnerships and avoiding the obstacle of misunderstanding.
On this track, we will discuss techniques for classroom management of
ADHD children. I have found that there are five key strategies for dealing
with ADHD children in the classroom that I like to pass on to teachers.
These five key strategies for dealing with ADHD children in the classroom
are 1. Thinking ADHD, 2. Crisp Behavior Management, 3. Prevention, 4.
Dealing with Parents, and 5. Experimental Thinking.
Kelly, age 25 fourth grade teacher, came to me frustrated near the beginning
of the school year. Kelly was beginning her second year teaching and
for the first time had an ADHD child in her class, Anne. Kelly stated, "I’ve
tried all the normal teaching styles and discipline techniques, but nothing
seems to work! Anne just can’t seem to pay attention. As if that
wasn’t bad enough, she is usually acting up and taking the other
kids’ attention away from what I’m teaching as well!"
you know, statistics show that in a classroom of 20 or 25 students, usually
one child has ADHD. I stated to Kelly, "You were lucky your first
year if you didn’t have a student with ADHD. Now that you have one,
though, you may want to consider some different approaches to teaching
her and managing her classroom behavior."
Five Key Strategies for Dealing with ADHD Children in the Classroom
Obviously, there are several strategies teachers may use in dealing
with ADHD children. I explained to Kelly that in my experience, there
are five key strategies for dealing with ADHD children in the classroom.
As you listen to the strategies and techniques I explained to Kelly,
think of your teacher client who instructs ADHD children. Are any of these
obvious techniques that your client may be missing in his or her classroom?
Strategy #1 - Thinking ADHD
I explained to Kelly that the first key strategy for dealing with an
ADHD child in the classroom is Thinking ADHD. I stated, "A teacher
can’t expect normal behavior from a handicapped child. Although
your student, Anne, doesn’t look handicapped, remember that she
does have ADHD, and it will probably affect her learning. ADHD is not something
she can turn off at will."
Kelly stated, "I understand that.
But I still don’t understand her ADHD." I explained to Kelly
that one way to get a better understanding of Anne’s ADHD might
be to evaluate the extent to which Anne shows the signs of ADHD. Remember
the Symptom Rating Scale discussed on track 3? This helpful tool for
children with ADHD and their parents can also be useful for the teacher
of the ADHD child.
I explained the steps of the Symptom Rating Scale to
Kelly. I then suggested that it might also be helpful to compare her
Symptom Rating Scale for Anne with Anne’s parents’ Symptom
Strategy #2 - Crisp Behavior Management
I then explained the second key strategy for dealing with an ADHD child
in the classroom, Crisp Behavior Management. Kelly asked, "What
do you mean by Crisp Behavior Management?" I replied, "Crisp
means things you can do quickly to take care of the ADHD student’s
behavior management problem. As you know, behavior management for ADHD
children can be divided into two categories, disruptive misbehavior,
and non-disruptive ADHD behavior."
I explained these to Kelly
and stated, "For example, talking in the middle of your lecture
would be considered disruptive misbehavior. But if Anne is just moving
around restlessly in her seat, it is non-disruptive ADHD behavior." Kelly
stated, "I think I’ve got misbehavior covered. Anne understands
that if she misbehaves, she’ll be punished with a detention. But
then what do I do if Anne is just getting restless? I can usually see
when she’s getting fidgety. I know she doesn’t mean to distract
others in the class, but the movement is distracting. It’s not
fair to punish her for that!"
To combat non-disruptive ADHD behavior,
I explained to Kelly that a secret signal might be handy. I stated, "Many
teachers will arrange a secret signal with the ADHD student to get the
student’s attention if he or she is getting restless. You could
talk to Anne and arrange your own secret signal, like tugging on your
ear or tapping your elbow." As you know, the secret signal is designed
to not embarrass the ADHD child and usually engages him or her in a mutual
Strategy #3 - Prevention
In addition to Thinking ADHD and Crisp Behavior
Management, I explained
to Kelly that the third key strategy for dealing with an ADHD child in
the classroom is Prevention. I stated to Kelly, "There are several
things you can do to prevent some of Anne’s non-disruptive ADHD
behavior from even starting." I suggested allowing legitimate movement
I stated, "At certain times in the day, let her sharpen
a pencil, stretch, or even run errands for you to the principal’s
office. Allowing Anne to move around during the day can be a real blessing
for both of you, and even other students." I also explained that
desk placement is important for ADHD children. I stated, "If Anne’s
desk is closer to the front of the classroom, it will imitate the kind
of one-on-one learning situation in which ADHD children perform better."
any of these obvious prevention techniques ones that a current client
of yours might have forgotten?
Strategy #4 - Dealing with Parents
I then explained to Kelly the fourth key strategy for dealing with an
ADHD child in the classroom, Dealing with Parents. As you know, it is
hard to discuss serious, emotionally-loaded issues with strangers. I
asked Kelly, "Have you had any meetings with Anne’s parents?"
answered, "Yes, but I really haven’t been taking them seriously.
I mean, I have to have parent-teacher conferences with the moms and dads
of 24 other kids, too." I stated to Kelly, "To help Anne
the most, you will want a good relationship with her parents so that
you can discuss any serious problems she may be having in class."
Strategy #5 - Experimental Thinking
After Dealing with the Parents, I explained the
fifth key strategy for
dealing with an ADHD child in the classroom, Experimental Thinking. I
stated, "You can try the suggestions I’m giving you now,
but if they don’t work, don’t be afraid to modify a technique
or try something new. Be willing to take suggestions from other teachers
who have had Anne in class before, or teachers who have dealt with ADHD
Do you have any teacher clients that are having trouble dealing with
ADHD children in their classrooms? Would any of these basic techniques
be beneficial to them? Would you consider playing this track for them
in your next session?
On this track, we have discussed several techniques for classroom management
of ADHD children. We discussed five key strategies for dealing with ADHD
children in the classroom. Those five key strategies are 1. Thinking
ADHD, 2. Crisp Behavior Management, 3. Prevention, 4. Dealing with Parents,
and 5. Experimental Thinking.
On the next track, we will discuss Teaching Time Management for ADHD teens.
We will also discuss four steps to teaching an ADHD teen how to manage his
or her time. These four steps are Plan, Prioritize, Schedule, and Follow
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Evans, S. W., Langberg, J. M., Schultz, B. K., Vaughn, A., Altaye, M., Marshall, S. A., & Zoromski, A. K. (2016). Evaluation of a school-based treatment program for young adolescents with ADHD. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 84(1), 15–30.
Evans, S. W., Pelham, W. E., Smith, B. H., Bukstein, O., Gnagy, E. M., Greiner, A. R., Altenderfer, L., & Baron-Myak, C. (2001). Dose–response effects of methylphenidate on ecologically valid measures of academic performance and classroom behavior in adolescents with ADHD. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 9(2), 163–175.
Sibley, M. H., Graziano, P. A., Kuriyan, A. B., Coxe, S., Pelham, W. E., Rodriguez, L., Sanchez, F., Derefinko, K., Helseth, S., & Ward, A. (2016). Parent–teen behavior therapy + motivational interviewing for adolescents with ADHD. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 84(8), 699–712.
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