By Michael Linsin
I might disappoint some people with what I’m about to write.
But 1st let me back up a bit.
For the past several years, managing students with ADHD has been near the top of the list of SCM reader requests.
And it’s something I’ve been looking forward to writing about.
I have what I believe to be a uniquely effective approach to helping students struggling with this issue.
However, it’s a big topic with a lot of moving parts.
And I’ve been concerned that a single article, or even a series of articles, might lead to confusion or prompt dozens of questions.
Rrecently I shifted the topic over to my list of future e-guides, where I can give it the treatment it deserves.
A couple of weeks ago, I took a poll to determine which e-guide on the list I should begin work on this spring.
The results were close, but “Students With ADHD” came in second behind “A Classroom Management Plan for Elementary Teachers.”
I hope to begin writing the former before the end of the year, but I felt like I needed to get something out here on the blog and hence this article.
Please understand, however, that the strategy I’m going to share with you today is only part of the picture. It’s an important part, to be sure, even the most important part, but it doesn’t answer what may be your most pressing questions.
Namely, it doesn’t answer how to hold students with ADHD accountable and whether or not they should be held to the same behavior standards as the rest of the class.
This will have to wait until the e-guide comes out.
In the meantime, there is a strategy you can use right now that is the very best thing you can do for all students struggling with attention or behavioral issues.
It’s so effective and powerful, in fact, that in the vast majority of cases, it’s the only strategy you’ll ever need.
So what is it?
It’s to be great at classroom management. It’s to double-down on the approach we recommend here at SCM. It’s to become an expert at creating a peaceful environment free of interruptions and distractions.
Because this will always have the greatest impact on students with ADHD—their improvement, contentment, and ability to focus and really enjoy school. It’s not even close.
The totality of truly exceptional classroom management is transformational, for all students, but particularly for those struggling with restlessness, impulsivity, and trouble concentrating.
From a student’s perspective, it’s a world that makes sense, a place where they can breathe, let down their guard, and just be a student.
But it isn’t just the most effective strategy, it’s also the first.
You see, no other strategy, including those I’m going to recommend as part of a future e-guide, will have much effect until and unless the first is accomplished.
Only then can you even accurately determine if you really do have students who need extra support or modifications to your rules and consequences.
Year after year, I hear horror stories about certain students and how they can’t stay in their seats, stop talking, or refrain from bothering others or disrupting the class.
But when placed in the right environment, many will quietly assimilate into the calm and well-behaved culture just like everyone else—and without extra attention from the teacher.
There is an epidemic of students who are misunderstood, labeled, pigeonholed, over-managed, and in some cases, even misdiagnosed due to poor classroom management.
The reality is, many are just bored, unchallenged, and highly energetic.
Again, for those who truly and legitimately need an alternative approach, I have what I believe is the most compassionate and least invasive method for guiding them from point A to point B and beyond.
But it isn’t worth much unless you create the conditions through which all students can overcome their behavioral and academic challenges.
And thrive, all on their own.