Dr. Cindy Taylor

Clinical Psychologist

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Teacher Tips

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Some hints for managing ADD-related behaviors in the classroom have been gathered from various resources.  The majority are from the Pre-Referral Intervention Manual (1993), while the internet was another source.  We hope you will find these suggestions helpful and would love to hear of others that have worked for you.


1.  Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes.

Ø  Teach specific methods of self-monitoring.  For example, have the student maintain a chart representing the number of tasks completed and the accuracy rate of each task.

Ø  Have student proofread finished work (e.g. double checking spelling, proper positioning of letters, adequate spacing).

Ø  Go over schoolwork with the student so that the student can become more aware of the accuracy and quality of his or her work.  Provide the student with clearly stated criteria for acceptable work.

Ø  Provide the student with samples of work that can serve as models for acceptable levels of accuracy and quality (e.g. the student is to match the quality of the sample before turning in the assignment).

Ø  Recognize accuracy and quality by displaying the student’s work and congratulating the student.  Deliver reinforcement for any and all measures of improvement.

Ø  Conduct a preliminary evaluation of the work, requiring the student to make necessary corrections before final grading.

Ø  Interact frequently with the student to monitor task performance.


2.  Has difficulty sustaining attention.

Ø  Make the subject matter meaningful to the student (e.g. explain the purpose of an assignment; relate the subject matter to the student’s environment).

Ø  Structure the environment in such a way as to reduce distracting stimuli (e.g. place the student on the front row, provide a carrel or quiet place away from distractions).  This should be used as a means of reducing stimuli and not as a form of punishment.

Ø  Follow a less desirable task with a more desirable task, making the completion of the first necessary to perform the second.

Ø  Break down large tasks into smaller tasks and provide appropriate time limits for the completion of assignments.  Introduce the next task only when the student has successfully completed the previous task.  The student may want to use a timer in order to complete tasks within a given period of time.

Ø  Reinforce the student for beginning, staying on task, and completing assignments.

Ø  Provide the student with a prompt when he or she is off task (e.g. move closer to the student, speak to the student, touch him or her on the shoulder)

Ø  Stop at various points during a presentation of information to check the student’s comprehension.

Ø  Reduce the amount of information on a page if it is causing visual distractions for the student (e.g. less print to read, fewer problems, isolate information being presented).

Ø  Allow the student to have some physical activity between tasks.


3.  Appears to not listen when spoken to directly.

Ø  Seat the student close to the source of or stand directly in front of the student when delivering directions and explanations.

Ø  Make certain the student is attending (e.g. making eye contact, hands free of writing materials, etc.) before delivering directions and explanations.

Ø  Have the student verbally repeat or paraphrase information heard.

Ø  Teach the student listening skills (e.g. listen carefully, write down important points, ask for clarification, and wait until all directions are received before beginning).

Ø  Provide visual information (e.g. written directions) to support the information the student receives auditorily.

Ø  Tell the student what to listen for when being given instructions or receiving information.


4.  Does not follow through on instructions and fails to complete tasks.

Ø  Reinforce the student for remembering to have materials such as pens, pencils, paper, textbooks, notebooks, etc.

Ø  Make certain the student is attending to the source of information (e.g. eye contact is being made, hands are free of materials, student is looking at assignment).

Ø  Give the student one task to perform at a time.  Introduce the next task only when the student has successfully completed the previous task.

Ø  Provide the student with environmental cues and prompts designed to enhance success in the classroom (e.g. posted rules, schedule of daily events, steps for performing tasks), and teach the student to rely on these resources in order to recall information.

Ø  Establish a regular routine for the student to follow in performing activities, assignments, etc.

Ø  Write a contract with the student specifying what behavior is expected (e.g. attempting and completing class assignments) and what reinforcement will be made available when the terms of the contract have been met (e.g. breaks, recreational time).  Gradually increase the amount of work required for reinforcement as the student demonstrates success.

Ø  Assess the degree of task difficulty in comparison with the student’s ability to perform the task.

Ø  Assign the student shorter tasks (e.g. modify a 20-problem math activity to 4 activities of 5 problems each, to be done at various times during the day).  Gradually increase the number of problems over time.

Ø  Interact frequently with the student in order to maintain involvement with class assignments (e.g. ask the student questions, ask the student’s opinion, stand close to the student, seat the student near the teacher’s desk).

Ø  Encourage the student to ask for clarification of directions for classroom assignments.

Ø  Provide the student with a selection of assignments and require him/her to choose a minimum number from the total (e.g. present the student with ten academic tasks from which six must be finished that day).

Ø  Work a few problems with the student in order to serve as a model and help the student begin a task.


5.  Has difficulties with organization.

Ø  Provide time at the beginning of each day or at various points throughout the day for the student to organize materials.

Ø  Have the student chart the number of times he/she is organized and prepared for specified activities.

Ø  Have the student establish a routine to follow before coming to class (e.g. check which activity is next, determine what materials are necessary, collect materials, etc.).  Provide the routine for the student in written form (e.g. checklist) or verbally reiterate often.

Ø  Have the student maintain an assignment notebook that indicates those materials needed for each activity.

Ø  Provide a coded (e.g. by color) organizational system for notebooks, folder, etc.

Ø  Teach the student to prioritize assignments (e.g. according to importance, length, etc.).


6.  Avoids or does not enjoy tasks that require sustained mental effort.

Ø  Make the subject matter meaningful to the student (e.g. explain the purpose of an assignment, relate the subject matter to the student’s environment).

Ø  Break down large tasks into smaller tasks.

Ø  Present assignments in small amounts (e.g. assign 10 problems, use pages removed from workbooks).

Ø  Make certain the student’s academic tasks are on his/her ability level.

Ø  Use pictures, diagrams, the chalkboard, and gestures when delivering information in order to hold the student’s attention.

Ø  Interact frequently with the student in order to maintain his/her involvement in assignments, responsibilities, etc.

Ø  Provide the student with an outline or questions to be completed during teacher delivery of lectures, etc.  Provide the student with samples of notes taken from actual lectures in order that he/she may learn which information is necessary for note-taking.  Set aside time to review the student’s notes and help him/her get the notes in order.

Ø  Provide delivery of information in short segments and in sequential steps.

Ø  Summarize the main points of lectures for the student.


7.  Loses things necessary for tasks.

Ø  Provide storage space for materials the student is not using at any particular time.  Label the storage areas and require the student to keep possessions organized.

Ø  Limit the student’s use of materials.  In other words, provide the student with only those materials necessary at any given time.

Ø  Provide adequate transition time between activities for the student to organize himself/herself.

Ø  Provide an organizer for materials inside the student’s desk.

Ø  Make certain that all personal property is labeled with the student’s name.

Ø  Make certain the student is not inadvertently reinforced for losing property.  Provide the student with used or copies of materials rather than new materials.


8.  Is easily distracted.

Ø  Provide the student with a quiet place in which to work where auditory and visual stimuli are reduced.  This should be used to reduce distracting stimuli and not as a form of punishment.

Ø  Provide the student with earphones to wear.

Ø  Provide the student with a predetermined signal (e.g. hand signal, verbal cue) when he/she begins to display off-task behaviors.

Ø  Structure the environment to reduce the opportunity for off-task behavior.  Reduce lag time by providing the student with enough activities to maintain productivity.

Ø  Maintain visibility to and from the student, making eye contact possible at all times.

Ø  These students give the appearance of not listening, yet they are hearing, seeing, feeling everything around them and lack the ability to sort out the important from the unimportant. Learn to limit the amount of stimuli around and in front of the student so that there are fewer obstacles between him/her and learning.


9.  Is forgetful.

Ø  Have the student practice repetition of information.  Have the student paraphrase instructions and explanations soon after hearing them.

Ø  Teach the student how to organize information into smaller units (i.e. how to learn sequences and lists of information in segments).

Ø  Have the student practice taking notes for specific information he/she needs to remember.

Ø  Use simple, concise sentences to convey information.

Ø  Provide the student with environmental cues and prompts (e.g. posted rules, schedule of daily events, steps for performing tasks).

Ø  Tell the student what to listen for when being given directions, receiving information, etc.

Ø  Encourage the student to ask questions about things not understood.


10.  Fidgets.

Ø  Structure the environment in such a way as to limit opportunities for inappropriate behaviors (e.g. keep student engaged in activities, have the student seated near the teacher, give the student responsibilities in the classroom).

Ø  Provide the student with a predetermined signal when he/she begins to fidget.

Ø  Remove from the environment any object that may be used by the student to fidget.

Ø  Provide the student with another activity designed to result in productive behavior (e.g. coloring, cutting, working with a peer).

Ø  Give the student something else to do with his hands so that the fidgeting is not so noticeable (e.g. holding and squeezing a stress ball).  Or, offer a substitute for the behavior, such as making a fist, putting both hands on the desk, or holding books with both hands.

Ø  Ignore the behavior as much as possible, especially if it is not disruptive.

Ø  Offer lots of praise and attention when he/she is not fidgeting.


11.  Leaves his/her seat when remaining in seat is expected.

Ø  Make certain the student has all necessary materials in order to reduce the need to leave his/her seat.

Ø  Give the student frequent opportunities to leave his/her seat for appropriate reasons (e.g. getting materials, running errands, assisting the teacher).

Ø  Avoid giving the student special attention when he/she is out of his seat; rather, wait and talk to him/her privately.  Do pay special attention to the student when he/she is displaying good behavior, however.

Ø  Anticipate the student’s movements and take action before his/her wandering begins.  If you think the student is becoming restless and is about to move, call him/her to your desk for special help, or return to the student’s desk frequently during work time to reinforce the development of a new habit of remaining at the desk.

Ø  Remind the student to use the restroom before coming to class.

Ø  Realize that for some students "sitting quietly" after a test or finishing class work is impossible. Learn to accept students' individual needs and allow a place in the room for students who need to stand up to do so.


12.  Is restless or overly active.

Ø  Recognize that this student must move.  You must structure his/her movement; if not, his/her movement will be uncontrollable.  Arrange for him/her to move at intervals planned by you.  Movement should be the reward system you use to motivate.  When necessary, create a special schedule that will allow more freedom for this student.

Ø  Do not say “no” to every request.  Instead, help the student develop self-control.  If the student requests to leave the classroom, try having an escort or two accompany him/her.

Ø  Establish time limits.  Try writing a note that must be signed at his/her destination.  This additional structure imposed by time limits and signing procedures often limits his/her requests to leave the classroom.

Ø  Create short-term goals for the student so he/she can realize more successes.

Ø  Find activities that will absorb the need to be hyperactive.  For example, give task assignments that involve activity, such as passing out papers (as long as school work is getting done).

Ø  These students often instinctively call out to a friend or push the person next to them. As a result, asking "why" won't bring an answer. This doesn't mean the behavior should be condoned, but it should be looked upon and understood for what it is - an act of impulse. Treat such acts as a temporary lack of self-control. Remember, at times students will act impulsively without thinking. Correct such acts, but don't make this behavior into something that it isn't.

Ø  Make improvement your goal. Have the student keep a chart of how many times you have corrected.  In the process, develop a set of hand and eye signals that will let you correct without disturbing class.

Ø  Always use verbal and nonverbal communication in a slow, quiet, and patient way.

Ø  When students gather during a class break or recess, it's not unusual for this student to get "carried away" occasionally. This is the time when teacher alertness and rapport can really help. Try a quiet touch on the shoulder and a friendly "Take it easy".


13.  Has difficulty engaging in activities quietly.

Ø  Never be loud with this student.  This will only convince the student that he/she is right; in other words, that the louder one is, the more one can dominate.  Instead, model the behavior you want by speaking softly and quietly.

Ø  Encourage the student repeatedly.  Always tell the student when he/she demonstrates mature behavior.  This will give the student the attention and recognition he/she requires.

Ø  Reinforce appropriate questions when they are asked.  This will help him/her realize which questions are constructive and relevant.

Ø  Watch for improvement.  Then relate how pleased you are with this improvement.


14.  Seems to be ‘driven by a motor’.

Ø  Maintain supervision at all times and in all areas of the school environment.

Ø  Prevent the student from becoming over-stimulated by an activity (i.e. monitor or supervise student behavior to limit overexcitement in physical activities, games, parties, etc.).

Ø  Provide the student with clear, simply stated explanations and instructions so that he/she knows exactly what is expected.

Ø  Do not leave a lot of unstructured time for the student.

Ø  Help the student to begin thinking before acting (e.g. have him/her ask himself/herself  “What is happening?” “What am I doing?” “What should I do?” “What is best for me?”).

Ø  Write a contract with the student specifying what behavior is expected and what reinforcement will be made available when the terms of the contract have been met.

Ø  Do not confuse impulsive behavior with enthusiasm.  Impulsive behavior should be controlled while enthusiasm should be encouraged.


15.  Talks excessively.

Ø  Remember, this is more a social problem than a discipline problem.  If treated as a discipline problem, it may actually become one. The ability to talk is not negative, nor is it a liability.  Consider it an asset, which the student must learn to manage for personal benefit.  In a private conference, tell the student, "The ability to speak is your asset. Therefore, use it wisely by following some tips. First, think before you speak so that you gain a reputation for being a thinker rather than a talker. Second, speak slowly so that people can absorb what you say. Third, speak quietly and gently to gain the reputation of being a person of depth. Finally, limit your talking. Remember, you can always add a comment, but you can't withdraw one.''

Ø  Give the student small tasks and responsibilities daily to fulfill his/her need for activity.

Ø  Station yourself next to the student’s desk during presentations.

Ø  When this student is talking, try not stopping class or saying a word. Instead, walk toward his/her desk or develop a hand signal to remind the student that he/she is talking. In addition, look at this student often.

Ø  Capture his/her attention by calling on him/her often.

Ø  Reinforce positive behavior and contributions in class.

Ø  Find time to listen.


16.  Blurts out answers before questions have been completed.

Ø  Do not blurt back, as this will give the student the attention he/she wants, as well as the opportunity to be disruptive.  Instead, try responding with eye contact or hand movements but not a verbal comment.

Ø  Give the student the opportunity to participate at planned times.  Tell him/her beforehand what question you will ask.

Ø  Use the student's name before you ask a question, and tell him/her that this is what you are going to do to help solve the problem.

Ø  Never reprimand the student in front of other students.  When you talk to the student privately, tell him/her all the techniques you plan to employ.  Also, be sure to tell the student why his/her blurting is not really appropriate behavior in the classroom.  Share specific instances.

Ø  Call on the student for responses when he/she is not blurting.  Also, praise the student when he/she is a good listener.


17.  Is impatient.

Ø  Acknowledge the student immediately upon raising his/her hand, and tell the student that you will assist him/her as soon as possible.  At first, attempt to provide assistance immediately and gradually increase the length of time the student must wait.

Ø  Identify a peer to whom the student may go for assistance.

Ø  Establish alternative activities for the student to perform when waiting (e.g. check work already completed, color, look at a magazine, organize work area, go on to the next problem, begin another task).

Ø  Reinforce the student for waiting appropriately.

Ø  Establish rules specifically for hand raising, and do not grant the student’s request until his/her hand is raised.  Make sure that expectations for hand raising are consistently applied.


18.  Interrupts others.

Ø  Whenever possible, continue teaching and confront the student only if the behavior stops the flow of the lesson.  When confronting the student, say something simple like, “Let’s stay on topic.”

Ø  Look for improvement, and give positive feedback to the student.

Ø  Teach the student appropriate ways to communicate with others (e.g. waiting a turn, raising his/her hand).

Ø  Provide the student with frequent opportunities to participate, share, and interact with others.

Ø  Talk to the student before beginning an activity and remind him/her of the importance of listening to others.

Ø  Make sure the student knows when it is acceptable to interrupt others (i.e. in an emergency).

Ø  Provide the student with 3x5 note cards on which they can jot down questions he/she has for you when speaking out would not be appropriate (e.g. during lectures or films). This will help satisfy his/her immediate need to ask and prevent their frustration and worry about forgetting what they wanted to say if they have to wait until later to speak.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 August 2014 00:01  

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