When my son was in public school, it was determined he had Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Otherwise a normal kid,he had a mild problem concentrating. He understood most of his teachers,but on his bad days, he just smiles and says he was “slow to learn and fast to forget.”
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states it affects 11% of school-age children – including 19 percent of high school age boys – struggling with low self-esteem, troubled relationships and poor performance in school. So, naturally, as parents, we were concerned not only with his marks, but with how he viewed his own potential.
However, the psychiatrist and ‘special needs’ staff – who had indentified our son’s ADHD – had a conflict dealing with his grade seven home room teacher. He refused to change his teaching ways… saying the classroom for “dumdums” was down the hall.
“How can you just leave me standing?/Alone in a world so cold?” – When Doves Cry by Prince
In my experience, all great teaching is built on acceptance. A teacher can be respected for their knowledge, but a great teacher is loved because they care.
Then things changed for the better.
His secondary school guidance teacher – who didn’t let the confines of a wheel chair disable her from thinking of possibilities – was an educator our son trusted. It took some time to convince him that he could handle university work, but she taught him to develop a disciplined approach, along with some study strategies and time management skills; his confidence doubled. Who can put a price on that?
It’s probably, why he became the emphatic, encouraging teacher (and parent) he is today: demonstrating any willing professional can easily adapt ADHD teaching skills – and better understanding of all students.
I wasn’t diagnosed with it until adulthood, but related signs were there, including: anxiousness, wanting everything done yesterday, and trying to do too much. ‘All or nothing’ became my motto, but at what costs? Now, I see this way of living is no way to die.
My best learning experience didn’t involve a “teacher”… it was at the reigns of an older horse named, Johnny. He was the pride of Pat – a champion western horse rider, trainer and breeder.
The two were a natural training tandem, and when I, as a rookie rider, started by putting Johnny’s saddle blanket upside down, Pat said, “Well, you really are a beginner aren’t you?” Johnny sighed.
Yet, by the end of the practice, she asked me to take Johnny back to the barn; and along the way, I had to lean over, unlatch the gate, ride through and turn Johnny again and close the gate. I didn’t learn until afterwards that this was an advanced skill – not normally taught to beginners. Pat said, “I figured you could handle it… Johnny likes you!”
“And feelin’ good was good enough for me…” – Me and Bobby McGee, by Kris Kristofferson
Pat and Johnny proved what having a little faith in someone can do.