Are Teachers too Strict with Squirmy Kids?
Does the student who can’t sit still drive you CRAZY? You know, the movers and the shakers? The ADHD types who can’t seem to help themselves? Answer- YES! I am sure they drive us all crazy… But often I wonder.
Are teachers too hard on squirmy kids?
Sometimes I think I am too strict with the students who just can’t sit still. I will give warnings right away to kids to blurt out, or mess around while I am talking. I find other students can’t learn with those distractions, therefore, that student’s need to move gets sidelined by the 25 other kids needs to learn. This has been my philosophy for quite some time now. However, after teaching the AOE classes “Creativity in Crisis” and “The Element” my mind has changed a little. Maybe. Conversations in both courses revolved around ADHD and how we treat students who don’t fit the norm. Often these are the most creative students, but we are constantly De-Sensitizing them with meds, constantly disciplining them so they will sit still, removing them from the group to work alone the whole class period. We are guilty on all accounts and who can blame us.
How can we balance this? What could the active student be doing? Passing something out? Sorting papers? give them a stress ball? Give them a job in the classroom. What if, at the beginning of the year, the teacher kept track of the students who had the hardest time sitting still and focusing the whole week. This list would turn into an action plan to come up with creative solutions for these students in the art room. I am not sure what those solutions might be, but I like the idea of identifying the problem and trying to find a solution, instead of suffering through the 45 minute class period, only to have the same exact problem pop up next week in a habitual manner.
So, the other day, I tried some of the above strategies to see what would happen (spoiler alert – epic fail).
I had a student in 1st grade who brought a toy helicopter into the art room and was flying it around on the carpet (First day of art mind you). I of course, took the toy and talked with him about not bringing toys to school. After I took the toy, the kid just kept rolling around on the carpet, bothering neighbors and squirming constantly. So… I decided that while I finished up the directions this individual would help me pass out papers to keep him busy. He obviously had a need to move and I attempted to solve this in a creative way by giving him a job. So he seems pretty excited to be doing this job for me. So I get the rest of the class going while he passes out papers. After about 5 minutes I look around and, all the kids are back at their seats and supposed to be getting to work, but there was only ONE PAPER at each table (passed out by squirmy) and I had told him to put 4 on each table. So fidgety kid can’t follow directions, either! GREAT! Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. I do know one thing, teachers need some solutions!
This might be that one creative kid who has lots of ideas but just can’t sit still. Maybe he or she learns better in other ways then verbal directions? Maybe they have home issues or didn’t get any sleep and concentrate. We do need solutions, however, the classroom rules and norms still apply. So….
So my question becomes - What can we do about this?
Any ideas, suggestions or solutions? I know it’s a common problem, so please share!
(Like this type of chatter!? We are running The Element again in October! Don’t miss out- class starts October 1st. Learn more and sign up here.)