5 ways to increase enrollment in your foreign language class

Click-to-learn-how-to-increase-enrollment-in-your-French-class

Enrollment time will be coming up soon, and when I taught high school French, that was always a really stressful time for me. Not having enough students enrolled sometimes meant teaching a class I really didn't want to teach so I'd have a full schedule. Sometimes it meant that my class became a dumping ground for the students who enrolled late and didn't get into the other elective classes. Sometimes students who really wanted my class couldn't take it because it conflicted with other classes they really needed.

No matter what the cause, enrollment time can really stress out a language teacher. Here are some ways I increased enrollment in my French classes.

1.  Offer information to students and families on the importance of French.


Where I live, there are quite a lot of Spanish speakers, so naturally parents encourage their children to take Spanish. I get it. Hey, I took Spanish, too! A lot of parents and students don't understand how important French is. After all, it's an official language in Canada, and as Canada and the U.S. are important trading partners, that makes it a very important language in the U.S. as well. If you are in Canada, it's likely that French is not as hard to sell as it is in the U.S., but you still want to make sure that students continue to take French for as many years as they can.

Because families might not always see how French can be helpful, I would prepare information to send home to families of incoming high schoolers. Then, thanks to my principal who encouraged me to grow my program, I visited the middle school, talked to the incoming students, and sent that information home to their parents. From my first year to my second at that school, my enrollment doubled! I started that job with only 3 sections of French. By the time I left, I had a full schedule and they hired a second French teacher!


2.  Entice them with decorative projects.


Click-here-to-read-how-projects-increase-foreign-language-enrollment

Mardi Gras mask we made in class a few years ago


One of my favorite parts of teaching French has always been the projects. While they have clear learning goals and can be very effective teaching tools, they are fun to do! Students want to have fun, and since kids are walking past your room everyday, why not give them a view of what they could do if they were in your class? You can display formal assessment projects or make artwork such as Mardi Gras masks or Eiffel Tower models.

Find 5 beginner French vocabulary and grammar projects here.


3.  Work with your Spanish teacher colleagues.


I frequently hear from teacher friends that the students choose Spanish because it's easier, more fun, or the Spanish teacher doesn't give homework. Luckily, I always had amazing Spanish-teacher colleagues and we worked in collaboration rather than competing with one another. If you can work together to try to align your course expectations and homework expectations, that's great! Sometimes that isn't a realistic expectation, so all you can do is make your class the best that you can. Remember, even if more students enroll in Spanish, it does not mean that you aren't an amazing teacher!

4.  Take your time to teach the basics.


I don't know if French is harder than Spanish, because I learned Spanish as a French speaker, so it was already really easy for me! However, I do hear this from people everywhere. It is true that French spelling takes a while to master, and all those silent letters don't make it easy on our students. Don't feel rushed to get through a curriculum, teach all your units, or follow an unrealistic pacing guide in your textbook. Take time to teach classroom phrases, practice a lot of basic speaking, and help your students acquire listening proficiency before jumping into verb conjugations.

If they can't speak or understand basic phrases, they just are not ready to start filling out a ton of verb charts. Not only will they not excel, they will be bored. For a lot of us, enrollment isn't just getting the students that first year. We need them to come back for French 2, 3, 4 and beyond. They won't do it if all they do is conjugate verbs.

5.  Have fun in class, and speak a lot of French!


It is okay to relax and have fun. French is great, because part of your job is to teach them to talk, so spend a lot of time talking. I remember once when a French 2 student came to me at the end of the hour to tell me how much fun class was that day since we didn't do anything. Typical student comment, right? I just smiled, because actually, we had done a lot, she just didn't see it.

I had told them a story about something that had happened to me over the weekend. By that point, I didn't speak any English in class, so that five minute story turned into a ten minute story with their questions. After that, I sat on my stool and just asked them random questions about their weekends. That probably took another ten minutes. When they were done, they did the around the world activity from my passé composé speaking cards. By the time we finished all of this, they only had ten minutes left of class, so we did a quick-write where I had them write as much about their weekends as they could in five minutes. We shared a few and it was time to go.

Speaking-activities-for-French-class

Passé composé speaking cards


See, students love to learn, they just don't always want to it to feel like learning. The more we can do to make the learning feel natural, the better. Learning a language happens first orally. Perfecting the language can involve worksheets, verb charts, and textbooks. If we strive to make the learning more natural, it will be more fun. If it's more fun, more students will want to take our classes. An added bonus? Teaching is just a much better job when you're having fun with what you're doing, right?

Why I use self-evaluations with secondary students

secondarystudentselfevaluationforms


Do you want your students to think reflectively about their progress in your class? I find that it is a great way to encourage student responsibility, and self-reflection activities are great tools to come back to if you need to have a conference with a parent, a quick chat with an under-performing student, or a meeting with an administrator to discuss student progress.

I've taught 6th-12th grade, so I don't always use the same type of self-evaluations, but I still want to help foster this important skill with middle schoolers. An 11-year-old is not going to think the same way as a 17-year-old, but that doesn't mean that a sixth grader can't think reflectively about his/her progress.

Why should you use self-evaluations with your students?


1.  You're encouraging autonomy.


Ever have those students who won't do anything unless you are right there to make sure they do? With a self-reflection piece, the students will see that staying on task is their responsibility. Will they always work without a teacher nearby? Not always, but often they will recognize that they need to change their behavior, and that takes away a little of the classroom battle.

2.  You'll motivate students to do better.


By asking students to think about what they like and don't like about your class, or what they can do well and not so well, you are giving them the first steps to build on their strengths. Because they have thought about what they struggle with, they will then need to think about how to get help when needed. By also focusing on what they do well, students might identify a particular study aid that helps them.

3.  You're asking them to take ownership of their learning.


Have you ever had a student get mad at you for "giving" them a bad grade? Me neither!
No, seriously, how many times have you explained that you don't give grades, but the students earn them? No matter how you explain it, there will always be a student who refuses to acknowledge his/her part in the whole thing. So, when that student checks on his/her self-evaluation that he/she never does homework, it is really easy to pull that sheet out and talk about how the grade came to be. Now, if that student never does homework but reports that he/she does everything? Well, now you can have a talk about what is really going on.

4. Your students will understand their level of success. 


When your students reflect upon their grades, the effort put forth, and the areas of improvement, it helps them see the big picture. Students are able to see where they are and that enables them to see where they want to go. While it may seem obvious that a student should do his/her work in order to get a grade, that is often lost on students, which is why so many students make a last ditch effort to get extra credit when they have not done the regular work. Sometimes, seeing their efforts on paper helps them understand why they have the grade or the level of understanding that they do.

5. You've got documentation for conferences with parents or administration.


If you've got a tough cookie in your class (and who doesn't?), then you for sure want to make sure that you've got yourself covered. These forms are so handy to pull out when an angry parent is claiming that the bad grade is all your fault. They are great to show an administrator who comes in your room when that same student just will not work. It shows you are trying. It shows you care. It shows that the child's education is your responsibility and the child's.


To start students thinking reflectively, I have always used this form with my 6th graders. It is simple and to the point.

self-reflectionformsforstudents



After a few years in middle school, most students take more ownership of their learning and are ready to think about how they can improve. I used this form when I taught 8th grade.

Studentself-evaluations


With high schoolers, it is really important that they look at their strengths and weaknesses so that they  can address concerns while also using their strengths to help them to their best. I used this form when I taught high school.

Selfevaluationformsforsecondarystudents



Click here to see all three forms.


Do you want to know how you're doing? Have students fill out a teacher report card and use their comments to guide your self-reflection. You'll find out some interesting things about yourself, and because it's anonymous, you'll get honest answers.


studentevaluationofteacher

Get the FREE teacher report card here.



Making the most out of leftover class time


managing leftover classtime


One thing I've learned as a teacher is that things just don't always go as you planned. Maybe there was a fire drill right in the middle of the class and now you only have eight minutes left, so teaching that lesson is not going to happen. Maybe there was an assembly, and out of your three French 1 classes, you're only going to see one today. Maybe one class just works faster. Maybe it's the last few days before winter break, kids have taken their finals, but they still come to your class to do ... what? What do you do when you have extra time, but teaching a structured lesson doesn't make sense or is discouraged by administration? The reasons for classes getting out of sync go on and on. Some days, you just have to have a quick activity to fill in that extra time. That's why it is so important to have some ready-to-use activities for just these days. Here are some of my go-to activities.

To practice verbs:


1.  Charades


This one requires so little prep that you can use it in a pinch. Just pass out index cards or small slips of paper and give one (or a few) to each student. On each card, have students write a verb you've learned. Take a minute to pull out duplicates, then put them in a box that students can draw from. Call a student up to the front to act out the verb while the others guess.

2.  Montrez-moi


We play this one a lot with our verbs. I call out random vocabulary words and have the students show me the word in action. It's fun, requires no prep, and gets out the wiggles that even big kids get.

3. Conjugation drills


Do these on the board as a competition or with individual whiteboards. If you don't want to stick to verbs, you can just do a quick spelling review with any unit vocabulary you're teaching.

To practice speaking:


4. Speaking cards



Use French speaking prompts to fill extra class time

Pass out speaking cards and have students question one of their neighbors or have one student at a time ask his/her question to the class. Have more time? Do a concentric circles activity where students form two circles, one inside of another. Each student will pair up with the partner in front of him/her, then students take turns asking their questions. When both partners have answered, the outside circle moves one partner to the right, and the questions continue.

Find tons of speaking cards here!


5.  Turn and talk


Put up silly images and ask students to turn and describe the image to a partner. I have a huge slideshow of funny images I've found that I can just pop open anytime I need to. It took me about 30 minutes to create, but I can use it in a pinch anytime, and I made it years ago! And no, it's not in my TpT store, because the images aren't mine to share. :)

6.  Skits


These are great if you have an entire class period extra with one of your preps. Teach three sections of French 2, but you see one of them more than the others this week? Have students create skits. This is fun, no-prep, and keeps classes in sync.

Ideas for skits:

  • Use a vocab theme. Maybe you're studying food-related vocabulary. Have students role play waiter and customer, or do a dinner-time skit at the family table.
  • Do a vocab challenge. Post three to five MUST-USE words on the board and require each group to incorporate the words into their skits.
  • Put themes or topics in a hat and have groups randomly choose.
  • Have students propose a list of themes. Write them on the board and let groups choose their topics.


To practice writing:


7. Journal entries


Weekly journal entries have always been in my lessons, and when my schedule is disrupted, that day might become journal day. It's easy to skip a class if need be, because they aren't missing direct teaching or a structured practice activity. If you find yourself with a few minutes to spare after the journals, ask a few students to share.

Need journal topics? Get them here.


8. Snowball writing


These are so much fun to do when students have some proficiency. I don't usually do this until about the middle of the second year. To start, give the class a story starter (or use those turn and talk images). Give students a few minutes to write about the topic. I usually give about 3-4 minutes, but it will depend on student proficiency and the time you've got to spend. At the end of the time limit you've chosen, have students ball up their papers (like snowballs) and toss them in the air. Then, each student will find a new paper and continue the story. You can continue as long as time allows. Take a few minutes to share, because the stories are usually hilarious!

To have fun:


9. Music videos


There are so many videos available on Youtube. If you can access this readily at school, then it takes seconds to pull up a video to watch. Try to choose a song you're familiar with so you can discuss it afterwards. If students aren't proficient enough to analyze the lyrics, you can still introduce them briefly to the artist and tell a bit about his/her background. My students LOVE watching videos, and introducing them to the diversity of the French-speaking world is so easy this way!

Find some French videos at my Pinterest board here.


10. Lip sync contest


In foreign language class, music is a great tool to help students learn idiomatic expressions, practice listening comprehension, and gain cultural awareness. If your students have already learned some songs, of if they are comfortable reading lyrics of popular French songs they might already be familiar with in English (like Vive le Vent), then a lip sync contest can be a ton of fun. Just put on the music, get some contestants, and if you really want to have fun, have some students play celebrity judges.

Related : Bring music into your classroom!

To get organized:


11. Binder organization


Give students time to clean out those binders! If you're anything like me, you use a lot of vocabulary and grammar packets. These are so handy, and they can be great sources of information, but they can get quite heavy in a binder with a lot of other subjects. When students begin struggling to find papers quickly, your instructional time gets eaten up, so taking time to keep students organized really saves time in the long run.

Don't want students to throw out those old packets? Keep a file folder for each student in a file drawer or milk crate and they can grab them when they need them. This way, they aren't carrying around packets you've finished, but they can still access them before big exams.


12.  Organize or decorate your room


Some days, it is just nice to put on music and tidy up your classroom. I'm not saying you should just put students to work when your schedule gets out of whack, but once in a while, letting students hang posters, seasonal decorations, or make bulletin boards will give your students a feeling of ownership in their classroom. Plus, it frees up your planning time to make great lessons or grade papers. I'd call that a win-win. :)

What are your favorite ways to use those extra minutes of classtime?


French speaking activities for Christmas





Christmas is such a fun time to be a teacher, but it's also really stressful. Snow days, finals, schedule changes, and excited students make this month especially hard.

Quick and ready-to-use activities are a must, but you still want to keep teaching, so find some things that are engaging, interesting, and perfect for the season. Students love speaking activities, and I think they are a huge stress-reliever when things are super-busy.

Here are some of my favorite speaking activities for Christmas.

1. Speaking cards


Speaking cards are always a favorite in my class, and this set is really versatile! There are 64 cards in all with a mix of basic cards for beginners and more advanced cards for levels 2 and up. 15 cards are specific to Christmas and the rest are winter-themed.

Studentslovepracticingspeakingwiththesecards!PerfectforChristmasandwinterFrenchclasses!


2. J'ai... qui a ...?


This game is so great for listening comprehension, and it's a good tool for visual learners! Two vocabulary sheets are included : a sheet with French/English translations and a sheet with the images shown below.

Here's how the game works:

The object of the game is to go full circle with all of the cards. The player with "J'ai la première carte" starts and the game ends with "Qui a la première carte." Students listen for their word, and when they hear it, they'll say "J'ai + the image shown on their card" then ask "Qui a + the second image on their card?"

It includes 30 cards so it can be played in big classes. In classes with more than 30 students, simply pair up a few students, and in classes with less than 30 students, some students will have two cards.

StudentswilllovepracticingtheirFrenchChristmasvocabularyusingthesej'aiquiacards.


3. Find Someone Who...


This is one of ther quickest ways to get students speaking, and all that movement is a huge bonus! This activity is in my Christmas pack, full of other fun ways to practice their Christmas terms!

StudentswilllovepracticingtheirFrenchChristmastermswiththisFindSomeoneWhoactivity!

Find all my Christmas resources here.



An entire year of French 1 Resources!


Fullyearoffrench1resources


It's hard to teach beginning French students!  They need so much structured practice in order to master those basic skills. Speaking doesn't come naturally for them, spelling is not easy, and they often freak out if you try to speak too much French from the start. Whether you're a veteran teacher, a new teacher, or somewhere in between, you need to have a ton of supplementary materials to reach all your learning styles.

Here are some of my favorite resources for French 1 classes:

1.  School supplies 

You need to get your students speaking and listening right away, and a logical place to start is with school supplies. They will use that vocabulary every day they are in your French class, so start with the basics! The speaking activities are geared towards the newest beginners, making the activities really accessible for hesitant speakers.

Frenchschoolsuppliesunitschoolandavoir


2.  Adjectives

This bundle is HUGE! I mean it! It has over 500 pages of resources for teaching adjectives. There are games, speaking activities, projects, an adjective dictionary, plus a printable packet and accompanying PowerPoint show that are available in English or, if you want to use it with more proficient students, there is an all-French version of the packet AND the PowerPoint!



3.  Scoot games and task cards

These are by far my favorite games to play, because students NEED to move! It helps them concentrate, it keeps them from getting bored, and did you know that movement helps them learn? So, it's not just for fun, it is effective! (But it is fun, too). Here's my favorite game:


You can get all the French 1 scoot games here.


4. Weather 

Again, this is something you can teach early and use over and over in your class. From colors to clothing to seasonal topics, the weather terms come back over and over.



5. Projects

I'm not crazy about tests. It bores me to sit in a quiet room all day. To be honest, it kind of weirds me out. However, watching student presentations (that I can grade on the spot) or admiring my students' projects makes me smile. Plus, real-life learning helps students retain that information so much better, it's more fun for them, and students will get sentimemental when they remember fun projects they did in your class. Can you say that for a test?


6. Speaking cards

Students need to speak. They did not take French class to spell verbs on paper. They just didn't. Hesitant speakers need structured activities like the ones found in these speaking cards. Students will thrive with the chance to move, and even your shy speakers will enjoy speaking when the activities are not intimidating.



7. Reading comprehension

Students need to be able to read texts containing words they don't know, but they need those texts to be accessible. My reading comprehension packets contain 10 reading passages each, and each reading passage has 3 differentiated levels of questions, making it a friendly resource for struggling learners and the most-advanced beginners.




Want to have a year's worth of materials and monthly updates?

You can get all of these resources in one huge bundle! That's right, get all of these and many more. In fact, an entire year's worth! I add to it a few times a month, and I will until it is complete. Right now, there are nearly 3000 pages of activities for French 1!

Once it's done, it will be complete curriculum with a pacing guide and all the resources for French 1 needed to teach that curriculum. It will be a great stand-alone resource or as a really useful supplement to an existing curriculum.

As it is a work in progress, it is currently available for a fraction of the final cost, but every time I add new resources, the price increases. If you are looking for a complete French 1 resource that has engaging materials that actually work, this is it!

So, what do teachers have to say about the bundles you'll find in this year-long resource? Here are some teacher comments:


"The activities do a great job scaffolding the process for the students. Definitely recommend for a French 1 level course."

"This is an excellent bundle of projects... I particularly like how easily I can adapt my own scores to the included rubrics and project descriptions."

"Love ALL your verb resources! Great no prep lessons for immersion and core. Merci beaucoup!!"

"What a great bundle!!! I am ALWAYS looking for ways to incorporate reading starting in 6th grade. I love how there are three different versions because I can differentiate for kids who are struggling. Please continue to make more of these!!"

"Another great grammar acquisition resource. I love the variety of activities and how they support language acquisition. It is a great way to incorporate grammar instruction in an immersion setting."

Find the French 1 bundle here.

In the bundle, you'll find :

Speaking activities and assessments
Reading comprehension activities
Guided paragraphs
Writing rubrics
Board games
Bingo games
Scoot games
Task cards
Digital task cards from Boom Learning℠
Projects
Grammar and vocabulary packets
Presentations
Word Walls
Quizzes
Exit tickets
Posters


Learning French Verbs Should Be Fun!

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash


Yes, you can make it fun to learn French verbs! Often, when I tell people I'm a French teacher, they tell me that they took French in high school and they had a hard time with all those VERBS! Yes, there are a lot of verbs to learn, and then a lot of tenses on top of all that, but teaching verbs doesn't have to be so boring! Here are some of my favorite ways to teach verbs to beginners.


1.  Teach in context.


Students learn best when the activities are meaningful. Nothing is more ineffective than giving students a vocabulary list, having them repeat 30 words after you, and then writing them down a bunch of times. They just don't learn that way!

Now, if you're familiar with my style of teaching, you'll already know that I don't like translation as a way to learn vocabulary. A few sentences here and there can be really helpful, and sure, students can memorize a list, but the more contextualized words are, the more likely they are to remember them the next day or the next month.

To introduce vocabulary, I show images of the words on the list.  I might use a word wall, a PowerPoint show, or funny pictures I've found on the internet.

Then I provide students with a vocabulary list, and I have them read the words aloud for a few minutes with a partner.  I always start my year with a lot of phonemic awareness, so by the time I'm teaching verbs, students are able to read infinitives with little to no help from me.  After a few minutes, I ask for volunteers (the brave students who love to get up!) to act out some of the words.

By this time, students have heard the words from me, and they've associated them with images. They've read the words and said them out loud, and they've acted them out (or watched someone else act them out). They have already had five different types of practice with the list, and it's only been about 10 minutes!


2.  Make verb drills fun.


Yes, verb drills have a time and place in class! They aren't something you'll want to do everyday, but to help students quickly recall those verb endings, drills can be really effective.  A bit of memorization just makes things easier when you get to the more complicated stuff.  For example, all those spellings words I learned as a grade-schooler make it easy for me to write now. The times tables I memorized in math (and I HATE math) made math homework quicker. Think of the drills as something quick, fun, and effective to do once in a while.

You can do them as written drills like this activity for -re verbs.



VerbdrillsforpracticingFrenchverbs.-irand-reverbs


Or you can do them as oral drills like this fun dice activity here.


Frenchverbconjugationgameforregularverbs



3.  Use technology.


Digital task cards are an amazing way to let students practice their conjugations, because let's face it, students love their screens! The cards are visually stimulating and because they are self-checking, students know exactly what they need to study. Use them for whole play in class, assign a set as homework, or let students who finish quickly work on a device while others are finishing a task.

DigitaltaskcardsforFrench-irverbsaregreatforbeginningFrenchverbconjugationsofregularverbs.



4.   Play games in class.


Yes, make those verb drills a game! Use your whiteboard or use individual white-boards to have board races. Play board games. Let them have fun with verbs and they'll see that it isn't all just boring conjugation work.

5.  Provide ample opportunities to speak.


The real key to language acquisition and retention is speaking. Students aren't taking French to spell verbs on a paper. They want to talk, and they need a lot of practice in order to be comfortable doing so. Speaking cards like these provide students with a non-threatening activity that can be structured many different ways, so even the most reluctant speakers will take the risk to speak. Each set of cards includes six different ideas for using them, so it's easy to always keep it new and exciting, even if you  frequently use speaking cards.

French -ir and -re verb speaking prompts for beginners



These -ir and -re resources are available in THIS BUNDLE.


You can find all of my bundles HERE.


8 things you NEED to know about your students with ADHD


How to teach students with ADHD

As teachers, we all know what it is like to have THAT child. The one who doesn't listen. The one who can't sit still. The one who never seems to have pencil. The one who interrupts. The one who could do the work, if only he/she tried.

I'm a teacher, and I'm also a mom to THAT child. The one who didn't hear the directions. Again. The one who is still sitting in his chair when everyone else is in line, ready to go. The one who isn't done with the task yet. The one who the teacher looks at and thinks, "He is so smart. If he would only DO his work, he'd be amazing."

Well, he is amazing. He is so sweet, smart, and creative that I am constantly in awe of the person he is growing up to be. Of course I say that, because I'm his mom, but I try my hardest to look at him through my teacher eyes, too, so I can see what his teachers see.

My son has ADHD. I'm here to say that I didn't understand all those sweet kiddos when I started teaching.  Yes, I could see the differences, but I thought, surely, if they only tried harder, they'd get there. If they ate better food, went to bed on time, or just played less video games, they'd be successful. As a teacher, it's easier to find outside reasons why the child isn't successful than it is to look at our teaching practices and ask if there is something we could do better.

After over a decade of teaching kids with ADHD, my own child was diagnosed. It had been hinted by teachers, social workers, and even the doctor, but I didn't see it. How could my child, my amazing child, the one who could read and ride a bike at four years old, the one who could play with his toys quietly for hours, have ADHD? Well folks, I'm here to tell you...the struggle is real. The differences are real, they are debilitating, and they are just as present at home and everywhere else as they are at school.

I've heard a lot of opinons from colleagues and friends about ADHD, and as a teacher and a mom of an ADHD kiddo, it's clear how lacking our own training and even the continuing professional development on the subject is. Me? I took one special education class that covered so many disabilities and behavioral disorders that it was really easy to confuse them, let alone remember all of the acronyms tossed around in education! ODD, ADHD, IEP, IDEA, ADA, PTSD, SST . . . the list is ridiculous!

So, from a teacher, from a mom, here's what I'd like to share about our ADHD experience. Watching your own child struggle, but knowing that your child is also the one who is difficult for the teacher... well, that's a hard one to take.  Before going on, I have to say that my son has been blessed with the most caring, amazing teacher this year, and she has made all the difference in his attitude and performance in school. We will forever be grateful she came into our lives. ❤️

1.  The decision to medicate or not can be a heart-breaking choice that many parents are very conflicted over. 


There isn't a right choice, and it is not your place to judge a family's decision. It is a very personal decision for every family, and it takes a lot of consideration. Sometimes medications work well for a while, and then suddenly the dose is all wrong. Sometimes medications cause terrible side effects, and other times they are amazing and there are no issues at all. Some parents don't want to medicate.  Some parents want to get to the root of the problem naturally, if possible. Some families combine medication with natural products. Some families regularly meet with a therapist. There are so many ways to tackle ADHD, but the road can be long, and the parents need the teachers to understand that they are trying. Even if you don't see the results immediately, please know they they are trying. From talking with families with ADHD at school and in my personal life, I have seen the frustration, the apprehension, and the conflicted thoughts. I have felt them myself. Yes, I want my child to do well. Yes, I wish I could get to the bottom of why my child has such trouble with attention, with getting that work done. Yes, we have tried every food elimation diet around. We've taken the vitamins.  We've tried the essential oils.  I have read countless books. All helped a little bit, but nothing has ever been an overnight success, and I can't just "fix" my child so he will sit better in a chair for his teacher.

2.  ADHD is not caused by poor discipline at home.


Yes, it seems like some kids with ADHD just need some structure, some rules. Let me tell you, we have structure and routines at our house. Without it, things just do not happen. My son gets almost no screen time, and he earns that with our incentive program through completing tasks such as homework, putting away clothes, or staying seated at the table during mealtime. He gets a lot of physical activity. He gets enough sleep. He eats well. He has rules. When he doesn't do work on time, it is not because I have raised a disrespectful child whose intention each morning is to go to school and make his teacher miserable. It is because he needs more time. He will always need more time.



3.  Sending the child elsewhere will not make a child with ADHD work faster.


Why would a teacher send a child away because he/she is too slow? If the child is not able to complete work with his/her teacher there, that child will be even less likely to do it when yelled at, shamed, and sent away to work in the classroom of another teacher. All the teacher has done here is lost the child's trust, and that makes him/her much less likely to want to work for the teacher the next time. Creating fear in a child with ADHD is not going to create productivity.

If there is a resource room that has been agreed upon by the teachers and family, then allowing the child to work somewhere else might be a good option. If you are sending the child to another room because you don't want to deal with him/her, then you have shut that child down and told him/her that you can't be bothered to find another way.

extended time for ADHD students


4.  Every child with ADHD is different.


Yes, every child you teach will be different. Just as we learn the strengths and weaknesses of all of our students, just as we learn their quirks, we should learn what works for each student.  There is not a "quick fix" for ADHD. We can't just add one or two accomodations such as touch strips to a desk or a wiggle stool and feel like we've done our part. If the child is older, you can ask him/her what helps.  If you are dealing with a younger child, ask the parents what methods they have. If they don't have any in place yet, you can try some together.

5.  ADHD does not just affect a child in the classroom.


Do you notice if your students with ADHD have friends? Do they interact with others or do they wander the playground alone? Do they play well with friends of the same age? ADHD affects every aspect of this student's life, and while you are seeing the class behavior, it's important to understand just how hard every task is. Getting up and getting dressed? Eating breakfast? Brushing those teeth? Getting school supplies together? Being on time? Every morning, that child and his/her parent(s) have a lot of tasks that are just plain harder for a kid with ADHD. Then school happens, then homework time, then bedtime. Do you know how hard it is for some kids with ADHD to go to sleep? Parents use every tactic in the world to help these amazing, powerful, active brains to calm down. Weighted blankets, essential oils, herbs, special baths. So, when you deal with ADHD in the class, please remember that this child deals with it everywhere, everyday. It is exhausting, and it is hard for them to understand, so be empathetic. After all, at the end of the day, they are children with sweet, sensitive hearts.

6.  Having ADHD doesn't mean the child is less smart.


My child consistently scores in the very top percentile of his age group. He speaks, reads, and writes in two languages. He's a great reader and remembers the smallest details from what he has read, even though math is his favorite subject. For years, his teachers have told me how smart he is, how quick, how much he understands. I understand their frustration when he does not produce the work he should. Struggling to produce written work is very common with ADHD, but it does not mean the child is dumb or does not understand. It means that the child will have a harder time than other students showing you his/her ideas, but it does not mean that those ideas aren't there.  Please do not give up on a student with ADHD or assume he/she is not learning just because that learning looks different. When students learn differently, they need teachers who teach differently.


ADHD student learners

7.  Students with ADHD want to behave correctly.


A lot of teachers would love to have ADHD students show up to school ready to sit and work. What we have to know is that these kids HAVE to move. It's like they are driven by an internal motor that will not slow down. If you think it is irritating to you, think about what the child feels like when he/she cannot stop it but knows that it will cause problems. Students with ADHD are not fidgety or slow to annoy you, and in fact, my son often cries at home about how he wishes he could just be "normal." Every noise, smell, or movement is a distraction that he feels compelled to investigate. He knows what he is supposed to be doing, but actually doing it means ignoring the distraction. Kids with ADHD struggle with impulse control, so even though they know what is expected, they have a much harder time actually getting there.

8.  Multi-step directions are harder for kids with ADHD.


If you are giving directions while walking through the room passing out papers, you might just have to repeat those directions for your students with ADHD. Often, they can remember the first step, but they will forget everything else they are supposed to do. If you are talking and moving and doing other things, they may not even hear the first step. My son needs to be near me and focusing on me to hear my instructions. If the tv is on, if I yell from another room, or if I give too many steps, he won't start on the first one. He just will not even hear me. Move close to your inattentive students, make sure they are with you, and break it down for them if you need to. They can do everything you want them to do, but they can't do it if they didn't hear the directions.

So, what can we do?  

1.  Provide movement.


This is the number one thing that helps my son. He can't sit still for 3 hours. Really, what child should? But he cannot. In classes with movement and interaction, a change of pace, and fun, engaging activities, he thrives. In classes where he is expected to sit still in his chair and complete worksheet after worksheet, he shuts off. The work doesn't get done, the teacher gets mad, he gets frustrated, and it all goes downhill from there.

Read HERE to find some ways to incorporate movement into your classroom.

2.  Praise your students.


A lot of schools have student awards, and I believe in awarding responsible behavior. However, a lot of students with ADHD will never win no matter how hard they are trying, because by nature, they are impulsive, slow to start, slow to finish, and it just seems like they aren't following the rules. It may not always look like it, but they are trying, and to never get recognized for their efforts, even if those efforts don't look like everyone else, is hard.

I'm a huge supporter of student incentives. And no, I don't feel like we need to celebrate successes that are not real. However, when a student does well, a quick pat on the back, a sticker, a stamp, or a note on the desk can go a long way. I know this isn't something I should have to say, but when your child comes home defeated day after day because he's trying his very best, to the point of exhaustion, and the teacher never says a kind word . . .  it takes the joy out of learning very quickly. Try to build the child up by recognizing his accomplishments or his effort rather than tear him down because he doesn't function exactly as the other students do.

3.  Provide choice.


We've probably all heard the quote that has been attributed to Albert Einstein : The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Well, if we are doing the same tasks over and over, if we aren't getting the results we wanted from ALL students, then why do we keep doing it that way? Of course, there will be tasks that all students must do, but if a student struggles to write, can they do a skit? If they can't sit and read quietly, can they read out loud to a classmate? If copying spelling words down is not effective (because is it really the most effective way for all students anyways?), is there a way that the student can practice the words out loud or with manipulatives? There are many ways to get to the desired goal, and the more options you offer, the more students you'll get to master that task. You'll help your students with ADHD, but you'll see others thrive, too, when they can learn with their preferred learning style.

Read

4.  Work with parents and colleagues.


Parents can be your best ally, and they can also be really difficult to work with. But, in the end, both the teacher and the parent are responsible for the education of the child, so reach out to them. Don't assume that they are not doing anything at home. Maybe they aren't . . . but maybe they are doing everything they can while constantly trying to find other ways to help.  The point is, you cannot assume. You might find that the parents are a great source of help in finding ways to be successful with the student. If they are not so helpful, then ask your school counselor for strategies that might be effective.

teachers and parents work together to help students with special needs


5.  Be caring.


We might not see it, but our words, our sighs of exasperation, our tone of voice can crush a little heart. The bedtime tears over the day's events are heart-breaking. To know, as a teacher, that your child has caused a teacher to lose his/her patience is awful. To know, as a mom, that your child has been treated in a way you would never wish any child to be treated is worse. So when we are irritated, when we are fed up, please don't let this be the expression we use with a child. Let's be the adult, be caring, and know that this sweet child is not trying to make us miserable.

When you do have to correct an child with ADHD, you can do so respectfully. A quiet conversation at a convenient time can help you address behaviors much better than yelling at the student in front of the entire class. Building a relationship is important with all students, but it can be the key to a successful year with a student with ADHD.

6.  Take time to figure out ADHD.


Because we are often so lacking in professional development for special needs students, we need to take time to understand what is happening. ADHD can look like laziness, misbehavior, or lack of caring, and if we treat it as such, we are missing an opportunity to educate that child. By understanding what makes the ADHD child act that way, we can begin to see from his/her perspective, and we'll get why our directions, our worksheets, our manner of doing certain things might not be effective for those students.

I love this YouTube channel by Jessica McCabe. She is an adult with ADHD that helps educate people about the struggles of ADHD while providing some helpful tips for dealing with particular behaviors. This video is a great place to start.

Click here to watch this video from How to ADHD.





Do you have any tips on how to help students with ADHD? Share them below!