I recently received my K-6 teaching license, and I have been observing in classrooms and applying for teaching jobs. I’ve been thinking a lot about the kind of teacher I’d like to be and how I will be successful in managing my classroom. I’m particularly concerned with making sure that I am effective in teaching children with special needs like my son. Connor is very self-aware and communicates openly with me about himself through drawings, written expression and talking to me. We are very close, and I like to pick his brain about what it’s like to have ADHD. I thought it might be helpful if he could give me some tips from a 4th grader’s perspective about what makes a good teacher. I am going to try to incorporate many of his suggestions into my classroom. I think that one of the best things I can do as a new teacher is to listen to my students and my own children, and learn from them.
Connor’s Tips for Teachers:
- Every time you see someone come into your classroom, say “Good Morning!” to them.
- Know your schedule for the day and write it on the board. Write exactly what time each activity starts and ends. Try not to change the schedule. Get it right the first time. Kids don’t like unexpected changes.
- Don’t be strict. Be fun, but not too fun.
- Don’t yell. Say, “Please be quiet. I’m trying to talk.” If nobody is listening, turn off the lights to get their attention.
- Don’t pick on one student. Make consequences private, or the kids will end up hating you.
- Be funny and humorous. Make kids smile.
- Ask kids every Monday about what they did over the weekend. Let them say, “No thank you” or “Pass” if they don’t want to share.
- If kids keep interrupting, make a blurting out chart so everyone can see it (see Connor’s illustration below). If the students stay in the blue zone, give all the kids a positive behavior ticket. Do not give kids a reward if the class reaches the red zone. Start the zones over at each period. Don’t tell kids what the reward is for keeping in the blue. Every kid likes a surprise and wants to be quiet to find out what the reward will be. Mix up rewards.
- To get kids to turn in their homework and classwork, assign a Team Leader for every table. That child picks up all the homework, class assignments, and paperwork for the entire table (cluster of desks). The teacher can pick the Team Leader every day and it should change each day.
- Give extra recess as a special reward. This is the best motivation for good behavior. Other rewards that kids really like are getting to use electronics from home, volleyball, bring blankets and pillows from home, and giving free time to socialize with friends.
- Put desks in groups of five. Change desk groupings about three times a year. Let the kids pick who they get to sit with. Split the troublemakers up.
- Ask the kids to raise their hands if they need to go to the bathroom or get a drink. Only 2 kids can go at a time.
Here is Connor’s idea about a blurting out chart.
I’d like to know what your child would add to the list. What can I do as a new teacher to make your child successful and happy at school? I love to learn from our kids, so I’d appreciate the input of other students with ADHD. Thank you!