"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Monday, December 24, 2007

I lost this one.

It's my job to work with the kids who no one knows what to do with.

Josh, the poster boy for ADHD, was one of those students.

Constant motion
Impulsive speech and behavior
Constant motion
Distractability
Constant motion
Lack of motivation
Constant motion
Hyperfocusing on (apparently) irrelevant topics

...did I mention constant motion?

When Josh was in my room I was always afraid he would hurt himself. The chair he was in was usually rolling on the floor...sometimes balanced on a corner. He rarely "sat" in it, preferring instead to use it as a balancing platform like some Albanian acrobat on the Ed Sullivan show (apologies to those of you too young to remember Ed and his "Really big shew"). My fear was that he would finally slip, crashing into the table head first, or slamming his neck against the corner of the chair or table.

But it never happened. His balance was good enough that he never fell...not in 2 and a half years of visiting my classroom.

With his ADHD, however, he did hurt himself. At this point - third grade - he is so far behind where he should be it was finally time to refer him to our school psychologist for testing and placement in special education. At the end of first grade he was reading at a beginning first grade level. At the end of second grade he was reading at a mid first grade level. Now, halfway through third grade, he is barely coping with end of first grade reading. His progress has stopped. He has, as is so often the case, begun to recognize that what he has to do in school is too hard and it is easy to just give up.

I wasn't able to figure out a way to help him cope with his inability to focus and learn.

School is not a good place for all children. Our schools are set up in a 19th century model which works for the middle 2/3 of students based on achievement. Most students are successful enough to learn what they need to learn in order to function in society. However, a child with severe ADHD doesn't fit.

The teaching/learning model that we are so familiar with doesn't work with students who have to deal with severe ADHD (and it doesn't work with children with other learning differences either). A teacher, trying to impart information to a child who cannot attend for more than 30 seconds, no matter how exciting the lesson, will not be successful with that child. ADHD students don't learn that way.

As teachers it's our job to teach to the child. We have to find the way to reach each individual student and gear the instruction to their way of learning - within certain parameters, of course.

What kind of schools do children with ADHD need? I'll have to cover that issue next time. And so far, our way of teaching hasn't worked for Josh.

1 comment:

Meg said...

This makes me have tears in my eyes. I don't think you lost him...like you said, it was time for special ed services to step in. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Josh.