What Factors Help Students with Attention Deficits?
Let’s look now at some of the important factors that help students with attention deficits find success in the classroom.
Working with students with attention deficits can be challenging for both student and teacher unless the teacher understands the critical factors that students need to be successful in school. Some important teacher factors include:
Teacher flexibility and openness: Students with attention deficits face many challenges in their daily life and school is just one of their challenges. Having a teacher who is flexible, and committed to helping each student experience the best learning environment possible is an important part of helping students experience success in school. Students need teachers who are willing to put forth the time, energy and extra effort to be supportive, make changes and provide accommodations as may be needed.
Training and knowledge about attention deficits and how it affects individual students: The problems that a student with an attention deficits have are both physiological and biological in nature. The student is not choosing to be uncooperative, impulsive, disorganized or “zoned out” while in the classroom. Understanding the characteristics that you might see in a child can help us remain calm and patient and keep our sense of humor about us when dealing with these situations.
Close communication between home and school: A strong home-school connection is necessary if you are to have success with a student who has an attention deficit. You will need parent’s support, cooperation and suggestions about how to help their child be as successful as possible. Remember that most parents have seen the behaviors their child displays far longer than you have and may have ideas on what works well and what does not.
Provide clarity and structure for students with attention deficits: This does not mean that students need a traditional, rigid-classroom. What it does mean is that students need good communication, consistent expectations, clear and consistent rules and consequences and follow-up. They need academic tasks broken into manageable chunks with teacher modeling and feedback on their work. They often need help organizing their workspace, interacting with others, handling choices and making transitions from one activity to another. Students also need to recognize and understand their strengths and how those strengths can be applied to their school work. Teachers who can provide this type of environment are more successful in their work with students with attention deficits.
Creative, engaging and interactive teaching strategies: Using strategies that help keep students interested and interacting with their peers is critical. Some excellent types of learning for students with attention deficits are multi-sensory approaches, hands-on involvement, working in cooperative groups, reciprocal teaching and strategies that use multi-modalities. If you do not know how to use any of these instructional strategies, you will be introduced to a wide array of flexible teaching strategies within this course.
Teamwork: Not all students with attention deficits are eligible for special education services. However, some students are eligible under the “Other Health Impairment” or “Specific Learning Disabilities” categories. To be eligible, the child’s disability must adversely affect his or her educational performance. If the child has an attention deficit but does not need special education services, the child may be eligible for accommodations or modifications under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. If the student receives special education services and support, it is important that teachers have a strong partnership with this professional to help identify ways to form a partnership that supports the student and promotes his or her success in the regular classroom.