Working with learners with ADHD?

I work extensively with teachers and support staff to bring about changes in approaches for learners with ADHD.  It's inspiring to see so much good practice, particularly when there's a willingness to share.

Here are some interesting strategies for managing behaviour issues, collated from a recent training event.  The behaviours are consistent with ADHD and some really good ideas were offered:

Behaviour: Angry with him/herself – fluctuating emotions

  • Speak to him/her and acknowledge that you can see he/she is angry
  • Focus on what he/she has done well
  • Stay calm
  • Listen (give him/her a chance to talk - social stories)
  • Time-out
  • Emotional literacy game

Behaviour: Restlessness

  • Regular breaks – go for walks/outside the classroom – 3 minutes to talk about the subject - everything you know
  • Activities in lesson (hands-on)
  • Clear tasks and roles
  • Shorter lesson plan/change of pace
  • Work in groups
  • Stress ball
  • Doodle book
  • Physical break - play a game that involves moving around

Behaviour: Calling out inappropriate comments in class

  • Ignore...

Immediate or Deferred Consequences?


I meet teachers in FE who bemoan the lack of instant ‘disciplinary’ processes such as detention or temporary exclusion.


In college, while it’s important that students toe the line behaviourally (after all, it’s what we expect in society is it not?) I believe it’s also essential to use all other options available before getting down and dirty with the punishment.


Why do I think this?  By the time a person reaches 16 and enters college, and if their conduct is not quite the ticket, they will have been punished many times already.  Did it work?  Probably not.  So the classroom-hater on your course is not going to change unless they have a different experience.


Sometimes if a student is hard to teach, is playing the fool, shouting out, refusing to work, the emotion which rises in me is “HOW DARE YOU”.   But should it pierce the surface and explode in front of...

What shall I do when students ……… >>>

Questions taken from a training day, these were specifically discussed during an activity and solutions from each group were offered.

Are rude?

  • Individual behavioural contract
  • Show examples: e.g. Basil Fawlty, The Office to demonstrate
  • Student input into class rules – use these as a reminder when student is rude
  • Withdraw from audience, quiet word – “it makes me feel.....” if you continue there will be a consequence
  • Check – do all teachers experience this? What are the triggers?

Are late to class with a grand entrance?

  • Ignore/give attention
  • Arrange a late table for late students with activity set up for them (avoids performance of lateness)
  • Suggest student uses phone alarm to help indicate when he should be in class
  • Prepare behavioural/attendance targets
  • Create a fun activity at start to encourage punctuality – something UNMISSABLE

Talk over each other and me

  • Make use of structured debate with modelled ground rules
  • Use of non-verbal displeasures cues and not acknowledging...

Congratulations, you’re both the Winners

If you want to create change in others, it's important to recognise how to go about it. I recall a student who, after repeated requests, refused to comply with an instruction. His simple answer was "if you want a different answer, you need to ask a different question". Now while that might seem rude and (for some) unacceptable, at least he was giving his teacher an opportunity to gain an outcome which didn't prolong the confrontation. Is that the solution?

I know some of you will roll your eyes to the ceiling and set your pencil alight with the heat of your fury. But what are these games that we play with our hard-to-teach students at college? Here's a script plus the subliminal message:

Teacher "I knew you'd forget your pen/boots/manners (I'm the winner)."

Student "I didn't forget it, I didn't think I'd need it today (No, you're...

Improving lateness and attendance

For many colleges, lateness and poor attendance among students is an issue.  It's always useful to know how other colleges deal with this.

In recent years, a group of colleges in Bristol took action with hard-core poor attenders.  A working party was created, students were brought together in groups during tutorial time.  After recording their activities, this is what they recommend:

  • Ask students to work out how many days off they have had themselves so far
  • Ask students to work out what these days off calculate as a percentage of attendance
  • In small groups, ask students to think of one thing they could do to feel better about coming to college every day (obviously if 14-16 years old then attendance is compulsory, so the suggestions must be reasonable)
  • Tell students you will take feedback from groups about suggestions
  • Tell students that 17 days away from college every year means that they will probably obtain a whole grade lower in their exams/assignments than they...
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