Wednesday, April 28

“My ADHD pill went down the drain.”

When one of my students arrived this morning, I knew something was wrong.  We have a set routine for removing coats, storing backpacks, and turning in homework.  The time we spent learning the routines in September pretty much guarantees a smooth start to the day.  As I moved to the front of the room, my eye was drawn to K. and the mess that was his area. 

He still had his coat on, his backpack was on his chair and books and papers were falling to the floor.  I learned long ago not to react without first getting the facts along with remembering to look at a student’s face.  Something wasn’t right today.
For a moment or two, I just stood and watched.  Then, K. looked up and said, “My pill went down the drain and it was the last one.  I didn’t take my medicine.”  The look on his face was so concerned and so fretful, that I wanted to wrap him up in a great big hug.  I tucked away my mommy instinct, and reassured him in my teacher tone that we would take it a step at a time. 

I helped him organize his belongings and we started our day.  Throughout the morning, he struggled more and more.  When I met with him one-on-one, he was becoming frustrated.  I told him I knew how hard he was trying and we would get through it.  The types of errors he was making were unusual and atypical.  I varied his tasks and made sure he had time to move.  (It was staggering the number of times he sharpened his pencil.) As the morning drew to a close, he brought me the good copy of his writing assignment.  He showed me his paper and said, “I need to re-do this.  It doesn’t even look like my handwriting.”  I reassured him we would have plenty of time tomorrow.
I shared that I knew how hard the morning was for him.  I asked him to use a word to describe it and he said, “cloudy.” 

I am grateful this happened.  It was an invaluable opportunity for me to show a student I was on his side and I would always support his best effort.  Furthermore, if gave me a chance to modify my  “plan” for the day and go with the flow of the day.  I’m proud that I was flexible.  (By the way, it was only a half day as we had “Grandparents’ Day in the afternoon and we weren’t in the classroom.)

Today was a good day. 

P.S. For the record, I support a parents’ right to choose/decide what is best for their child regarding ADHD medicine.  Each student needs to be evaluated individually.

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