Educational Clutter and the #ADHD Teacher

All my data are anecdotal, meaning they are not data. Well, shucks. I’ll share some observations anyway, and maybe some of y’all can relate.

A few of my students have it written in their 504 or IEPs that they may step out into the hallway to regroup and regulate their anxiety and emotions. I fully support this, and am wondering how I can make the emotional, visual, and educational clutter minimized and quiet. And –I wonder if I am able to do this. One student in particular has complained about the visual clutter in my room, and has skipped class several times saying this is the reason. My data inform me that her skipping class happened about the same time the population of the class changed from 31 students to 33. This might be a physical tipping point for her. And in our infrequent and fragmented conversations, I offered to her that she hasn’t allowed the time or space when I have made changes to accomodate her.

A few things: cell phones, physicality, and #ADHD/anxiety: how do these contribute or rather, destroy, a comforting classroom environment?

I created this slide presentation a few months ago imploring students to put away their cell phones.

Teaching and #ADHD

And while it may not make sense or break through the mental fragmentation of students’ use of their devices, perhaps one or two of them will think about it and put it away, if not for me, but for themselves. We are currently working on argumentative reading and writing, so perhaps it’s time I share it again as a mentor text for argumenative writing. As I’ve said, these devices remind me of packs of cigarettes. They’re ubiquitous, and cause second-hand damage not only to the user, but also for those surrounding their use. I’m too tired right now to write my research paper on this. Leave me alone.

There is a lot of world noise now, too. I find myself overwhelmed, and I know how to calm and soothe myself. My empathy has necessarily limits: I know keeping myself regulated and grounded will be key to helping students maintain their core. And, I am compelled to continue to curate content and seek facts and truth.

Thinking of visual clutter in my room…

Thinking about my classroom, I have a lot of books. Some students love all my books, and one even wrote me a beautiful card calling me The Book Fairy,” a monikor I treasure. Many students over the years have told me how much they love the vibe of my room, and that makes me happy. And of course, in no way am I offended by one student sharing that my room gives her anxiety; it’s good feedback. She seemed to understand when I told her that many things on the classroom walls were not my choice, but in support of the building and district’s requirements, such as the social contracts (Capturing Kids’ Hearts), the learning targets, what’s on the white boards, etc. She seemed to understand that a few things I have on my bulletin boards and walls must be there so I remember them (that good ol’ ADHD brain of mine).

I have…a lot…of books
This was during moving time, early in the year. It does not, repeat, does not look like this now.

I’m trying, y’all. I really am. I’m trying to keep up with some personal events, grief, stress, grading, keeping things organized, etc. and some things just have to sort themselves out. The solution I came up with for this one student is to give me one week, and then we’ll figure something else out. I want all students to feel safe and comfortable in my classroom (home away from home), and balance my needs, too. Anyone with ideas, I’m open to most of them. But remember, I am an ELA teacher, and text-rich environment is my passion. Ideas include how to minimize the noise from the world, too.