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.


Hen Jen said...

oh wow, bless you for being on his side that day, advocate is the word I'm thinking of. Interesting the word he came up with. Poor guy. May he have a better week next week!

Nancy Hniedziejko (Nancy Ehrlich) said...

Hey Jenny, Thanks for the comment. It only got worse, but due to protecting privacy, I can't say much more about it. Next week is standardized testing (insert very large groan) and keep your fingers crossed. He breaks my heart every day. He just doesn't get what he needs.

Sarah said...

Awww... poor guy. I find it fascinating that he describes himself as feeling "cloudy"!

I hate feeling powerless to help students.... Good luck on testing next week (I was groaning too -- we just finished ours this past week)

Anonymous said...

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have a great day.

Krista said...

Great article. I have an ADHD child, and I very often find teachers don't understand him or what he deals with on a daily basis. Way to go for being so compassionate and understanding of his situation. Thanks for following @BFF.

Parent and Child Reading Assistance said...

Okay, you brought tears to my eyes. I think the tears came from being so happy for the child and proud of you. Not every child is lucky enough to have such a caring teacher. Your understanding and kindness will be something that will stay with him always. You taught him to accept himself and handle a challenge without your judgement or his own judgement.