“The Best Teacher My Child Ever Had”
The best teacher for a child with ADHD is one who celebrates and works with their students’ creativity, energy, and curiosity. One who not only follows but improves classroom accommodations. And one who goes above and beyond to help their students feel smart, successful, and appreciated. Meet a few of them here.
“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” — Albert Einstein
Notice that Einstein did not mention achieving high standardized tests scores, or maintaining a quiet classroom, or drilling math facts — all milestones that many teachers are expected to reach, but that some know are secondary to the job of inspiring and encouraging a child’s best self to shine. This is where outstanding teachers stand apart, according to ADDitude readers, who recently answered this question: “Has your child had a teacher who really ‘got’ his or her ADHD brain and personality? What kind of a difference did it make for your child that school year?”
Below, read some of our favorite stories about the best teachers our readers’ kids have ever had — and how those educators devised creative ways to focus ADHD brains, foster self-esteem, and encourage growth. Add your ‘best teacher’ story in the Comments section below.
Your Best Teacher Stories
“My daughter’s 2nd grade teacher had ADHD herself, and kept an abundance of tools in her classroom for children who need to move, stand, or work in a private area. Previously, (at a different school) I dreaded picking up my daughter because the teacher would complain about how she didn’t sit still in circle time, didn’t follow directions, or acted inappropriately. This new 2nd grade teacher recognized how intelligent my daughter was, and encouraged her to do her best using empathy, positive reinforcement, and rewards. She set the bar for future expectations for both my daughter and her teachers, and for me as a mother.” – Marcia
“My daughter attends a small Montessori school. Teachers noticed her high level of activity and distractibility in kindergarten and created reward systems to help her prioritize things like making sure she had all of her materials and keeping her area clean. They were all so supportive when I took my daughter for an ADHD assessment. She is now in 4th grade and flourishing. They continue to work on executive functioning, meeting her where she is, and building skills with patience and respect.” – Jennifer
“My daughter’s 4th grade teacher was the only teacher who recognized and praised my daughter’s strengths. She would give my daughter small tasks to keep busy while they waited for others to finish their work and she allowed snacks during the day because she noticed that it helped my daughter focus. She even fought her own administrators to get my daughter testing accommodations for math! She not only made 4th grade an amazing year, she taught my daughter to embrace her ADHD!” – Elka
“My son’s 4th grade teacher has been so helpful; we are getting a 504 Plan to record the accommodations she has been providing so that future teachers can help in the same ways. My son respects her and doesn’t dread going to school anymore. She helps him be more successful in class by emailing me copies of the assignments he forgets or loses, offering multiple-choice spelling tests, and allowing him to type out written assignments. He has been flourishing and enjoying school, all because of his thoughtful and patient teacher. – Karle
“When my son began 7th grade, I met with each of his teachers at the start of the year to let them know about his ADHD and that they could contact me at any time. I was probably noticeably anxious about the change to middle school because his History teacher looked at me, smiled, and said: ‘Well, I have ADHD too, so I think we will get along just fine.’ And they did! This teacher took his ADHD in stride and managed to help my son through History class with only a few hiccups.” – Anonymous
“There has yet to be a teacher who truly understands all of the complexities of ADHD, but we are very fortunate that my 3rd grader’s teachers have looked past the ADHD challenges to actually see and know my son. We have heard several times that he is sweet, kind, thoughtful, and friendly with everyone. His special Ed teacher said ‘If only we could replicate him to make all students so kind.’” – Beth
“When my son was in 5th grade, his teacher assigned him a peer buddy in the 2nd grade who had similar learning challenges. Once a day, when he got antsy, he could leave the class and go check on his younger buddy. Before my son left for middle school, his teacher gave him the words to advocate for himself. She had him practice saying ‘I really want to do well in this class, but sometimes I have a hard time focusing. Do you think we could work out a way that I could occasionally get up without disrupting the class?’” – Anonymous
“My child was very proud that her 3rd grade teacher periodically chose her to deliver notes to the vice principal. I found out that the notes were just an excuse to let my daughter move around when she got disruptive. Teachers who can turn a negative into a positive make all the difference.” – Elizabeth
“My son’s science and math teacher truly understands him. When my husband has contacted her with issues related to my son attempting, and failing, to understand his homework, she has responded that she isn’t worried about the homework being finished because she knows he is trying. She holds my son accountable for his work, but implements the accommodations in his 504 Plan. She has made this school year lower stress for all of us.” – Anonymous
Best Teacher for ADHD: Next Steps
- Download: 20 Classroom Accommodations for Students with ADHD
- Read: Dr. Ned Hallowell on the Teacher Who Changed His Life
- Learn: 7 Enlightened Methods for Teaching Students with ADHD and LD
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