Teacher with ADHD

Discussion in 'General Education' started by GeetGeet, Dec 22, 2012.

  1. GeetGeet

    GeetGeet Companion

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    Dec 22, 2012

    Hi all,

    This may be a random question, but I am really curious to see what others think of this.
    I am a 7th year high school art teacher, and I have been working in the same wonderful district for my whole teaching career. Generally, I have really nice kids and the staff is great too, and between myself and the other two art teachers, we have built a very strong art department, and my AP students have been getting steadily improving scores since I took on the class. So, overall I am pretty effective, but of course I am my own worst critic. ;)

    My question has to do with the fact that I have ADHD. I was diagnosed around the time I started teaching, because I ran into problems that I was not able to compensate for with the same coping mechanisms that had worked for me all throughout my years as a student. Before that time, I really didn't know that I had it. Once I started learning about it, however, SO MANY THINGS that had frustrated me so so long just seemed to make sense, and After leaning more about ADHD and taking medication, I have become so much more effective as a person and a teacher. That said, I still have ADHD "moments" on a fairly regular basis, and I get pretty embarrassed about them. I often feel pretty stupid around my students when they happen, and I sometimes wish I could just tell my students about my ADHD. I feel like if I can be honest about it, then it might take the pressure off of me while also taking a bit of the stigma off of the disorder. But, it also seems like a pretty personal thing to reveal.
    I have told some of my seniors who I have had for four years in a row now, and I have not noticed any problems as a result of my disclosure with those few students. But I am conflicted still as to whether that was an ok thing to share.
    I am curious, what do you think is appropriate here?
     
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  3. teachart

    teachart Comrade

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    Dec 22, 2012

    How serious are your ADHD moments? Does it involve losing grades/ect?

    I was diagnosed my second year of college. In addition to medication, I worked with a psychologist every week. We would go over my planner, and choose "check-points" where I would call her after I completed certain tasks. We also worked on organization systems. Now my ADHD does not effect me negatively. I do have to be extremely organized. I write everything down. I just tell students I have a Dory brain (from Finding Nemo) and if I don't write things down I won't remember them. I think high school students like that term more than the younger ones!

    I think that if you are making mistakes, then that needs to be addressed. Having ADHD could be seen negatively, but it could be a means to get accommodations under ADA.

    As for me, I don't hide it but I don't specifically tell people. If it comes up with other coworkers, it comes up. I don't think I have any more "moments" than a teacher without ADHD at this point.
     
  4. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Dec 22, 2012

    I wouldn't openly share it with kids. Usually when a kid says "yeah but I'm/I have ___" I say "we all have problems".

    I'm probably dyslexic and ADHD, but have never been diagnosed because I wouldn't take meds, so what's the point? Sometimes when I read aloud to the kids I read things funny and they laugh and I like to use that to show them we all make mistakes. But I don't upright and tell them "I'm dyslexic"
     
  5. GeetGeet

    GeetGeet Companion

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    Dec 22, 2012

    I have lost grades, but that is VERY rare at this point, because I have made very good systems for myself. But I second-guess myself if a kid swears they handed something in but I don't have it, for sure. Luckily, it has turned out that this year, kids have usually discovered that they in fact did not turn in what they were supposed to turn in.
    An example would be putting a pile of handouts down and then being unsure where they went, a kid asking me for something and then I get distracted by another student, things like that. I have gotten much better at keeping track of assignments and grading and other things that are of major importance. And I do tell my students that I have to write everything down or I forget, etc. I may just feel self-conscious about it in general--maybe it isn't really all that noticeable. It's hard to know for sure.
     
  6. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Dec 22, 2012

    Honestly, those sound like things EVERY teacher does. Don't feel self conscious, I guarantee you your kids don't notice at all.
     
  7. GeetGeet

    GeetGeet Companion

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    Dec 22, 2012

    Thanks everyone. I am a pretty sensitive person and so sometimes it is not easy teaching high school, lol!
     
  8. msufan

    msufan Comrade

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    Exactly. I always joke that "I used to be organized until I started teaching." Don't sweat it.
     
  9. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Dec 22, 2012

    Those sound like things all teachers do. I find it very frustrating when I know I just had something in my hands, I put it down & I don't remember where I put it! I've stood in my room, hands on hips, looking for something that I just had in my hands. My kinders know I do that, they will sometimes be able to tell me where I put it.

    When I collect papers, I paperclip them together. I've heard of some teachers that staple them together. Anyway, they are together. Papers that get turned in late, well, those get graded late & hopefully not lost.

    I chalk it up to being a busy teacher.
     
  10. alioxenfree

    alioxenfree Rookie

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    Dec 22, 2012

    I have ADHD too. I think that because we have had so many difficulties before we were treated, that we can be more critical of ourselves when we make mistakes that any teacher could make. As for disclosing ADHD, I haven't and don't think it's a good idea in my case. I am tempted to share it with my students who have ADHD because they could see someone "like them" as a role model. I've decided that's probably not a good idea. I'm not so concerned about the kids knowing, but I don't want the parents or my colleagues to use my ADHD as an excuse for when I do something "quirky." I'd rather they just think I'm quirky! I also think I'd be under extra scrutiny by some coworkers and parents if they knew. If someone at work told me she thought I had ADHD, I'd probably just say "You're not the first person to tell me that!" and laugh. It's the truth!

    While I don't discuss the diagnosis with my students, I do talk about a few of the issues I have. In my class we talk about people having strengths and weaknesses. They know that one of my weaknesses is memory (actually it's attention, but that's harder to explain to them). We discuss the things they can do to help my memory (such as putting the pencil containers on my desk at the end of the day so they're "in my face" and I'll remember to sharpen them, and writing me reminder notes for special things they want me to remember). They also know that I write everything down. Everything!

    My students often tell me that I'm organized. I let them know that because organization is one of my weaknesses, it doesn't come naturally to me like it does with other people so I have to work harder at it. I color-code (which is necessary for my sanity), and label, list, etc. because I have used organized people as examples. This helps them understand that you can improve or compensate for your weaknesses.

    I teach third grade, so I'm sure dealing with high schoolers is different. The behavior you're describing doesn't sound so unusual though, so I doubt they even notice. I don't think it's bad to share, if you feel comfortable doing so. My friend's principal is open about having ADHD as is one of her colleagues, who teaches fifth grade. I think it depends on the situation and what your school is like. I like to err on the side of caution myself.

    Sorry, this post got kind of long! I stayed focused though! :D
     
  11. DocuiSedecim

    DocuiSedecim Rookie

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    Dec 22, 2012

    Don't feel bad

    I have all the same problems. I have known for a long time that I had ADHD and so did ALL of my coworkers. Before I started medication I lost and misplaced things do often that my students learned to watch where I was putting things. Having students know thy need to watch you is embarrassing, since meds the issues have all but disappeared.
     
  12. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I don't have ADHD so obviously I can't put myself in your shoes, but I think I would probably tell me students. A lot of students use ADD or ADHD as reasons for them to fail certain things, not as an excuse, but they already feel inferior because of that. Having a teacher admit he has it could serve more as a motivation.
    Of course this depends on your students, if you have a certain student population that would use that to make fun of you, take advantage of it, etc. then I wouldn't share.

    On of my insecurities was that English is my second language, and I know I mispronounce some words here and there. Sometimes it's just due to my accent, but other times if someone points out how to say it 'right', I'm ok after that.
    So I overcame this by openly admitting that even though I'm an English teacher, plenty of words are new to me (no one know every single word) and I mispronounce them at times, or even make grammatical / syntactical errors. I sometimes ask the students if I said something right, or how to say it. No one laughs, no one makes fun of me. They can't really laugh at me, I already am doing that myself, so at best they'd be laughing with me. But I think what is more powerful is that the English learner students (we have a LOT of them) don't have to feel that they're any less than others. If an English learner can become an English teacher, then they can do anything they set their mind to.

    I get very easily distracted, too. I let them know that ALL the time and use it as a basis for one of my rules: only one person speaks at a time, otherwise it's all lost. And that I need a quiet classroom, because when they talk (off task) they're in my head. They always laugh at that, but it works.
    So if it was me, I would let them know.
     
  13. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I have had ADHD all my life as well. In fact I know a lot of teachers who probably do. I don't need medication for it though because I can manage it with staying organized and developing effective systems.

    I didn't have any of these in college and high school so my grades were mediocre.

    I don't really mind telling my students that I have ADHD. I do it in a way that may make them think I'm not being serious though.

    For instance they always ask why I never stand still and am constantly moving around the room (all the other teachers stay at the front or sit at their desk). I just say I have extreme ADHD and can't stand still even for a moment.

    Sometimes my hyperactivity acts up and I say jokingly that I have ADHD even though it's true. A lot of my students have ADHD, and if they ever think that it's something that keeps them from being smart and intelligent, they can look at me and other successful adults who have ADHD and know that it's not an excuse. I wouldn't mind talking with students who are having problems with it personally about my own experiences with it.
     
  14. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    The problem I have with this is a lot of time people joke about having ADD or being dyslexic or whatever. So growing up I always thought it was a joke. I remember going to college and my swim coach was reading something and said "I'm dyslexic" and I started laughing. Well I was the only one laughing and turns out she actually has dyslexia and I looked like a total ass hole. Which I guess I was. Also had to do lots of laps after that... But I was used to everyone just saying it as a joke! I didn't know that it actually is serious and it's not a laughing matter.
     
  15. Blue

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    Knowing that you have ADHD and coping with it is admirable. My GS has ADHD and has lots of focus problems. Just having a diagnosis makes coping and understanding easier. If you are displaying "strange" symptions and your students are wondering, I would tell them.
     
  16. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I agree with some pp's that the things you're describing sound like things every teacher does- I know I do them! I am constantly setting papers down and then wondering where they are 2 minutes later, or forgetting something because I get distracted. It's just the nature of the job- no one can keep up with all of things we're supposed to be doing at once 100% of the time.

    As far as telling students, I personally would. Not as an "excuse" for doing certain things, but to show them that it's possible to be a successful adult with a professional job and have difficulties. I never had a diagnosed learning disability, but I really, really struggled with math all the way through school. I have no visual/spatial awareness. I watched a spatial knowledge test given to a student for sped identification last year, and I swear I couldn't pass it even as an adult. I had no idea what the examiner was doing or how the kid was following it! I always tell the kids that I thought math was really hard when I was in school and that I even had to spend extra time after school with a tutor so that I could learn it. I tell them that I had to study for hours for my math tests and I still didn't always get the best grades. Of course then I follow that with something along the lines of, "and see, now I'm teaching it!" I think it's important for them to know that teachers aren't always just "really smart" and that it's possible to work through academic challenges and get places too. It also helps me make more personal connections with them because they see more as a "real person." I've never had a negative experience with it.
     
  17. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I don't think people joke about dyslexia as much as ADHD, at least not in my experience.

    I can see your point, but in my case, though I say it in a way that students may not take seriously, if they dig further or even just watch my actions throughout the day, they'd be able to tell I think. And I do just flat out tell some of them, but not when I'm addressing the entire class as an announcement or anything.
     
  18. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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  19. bros

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    Dec 23, 2012

    I have dysgraphia and ADHD

    When i was in the classroom this past semester, sometimes the students would ask me to write things for them. I would write it, but due to my dysgraphia, it would come out illegible. They would ask why. I would tell them that it was hard for me to write (Usually the students with disabilities would ask me to write a word down for them so they knew how to spell it), like how it is sometimes hard for them to figure out how to spell a word, but I can tell them how to spell it, or how to find it in the dictionary.
     
  20. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I use a lot of these tips myself but perhaps my most used one is having spiral notebooks everywhere. Finding the info again usually isn't as important as the act of motor memory for me. I used to write my lesson planning related to do list on one side of my white board so I could see it often. I also wrote the daily agenda on the board. The kids learned that writing has a purpose and it was useful for me. My team teacher thought it was messy but I am a big believer in finding strategies that work with our own personalities and needs.
     

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