by Terry M. Dickson, MD, ACG, CPCC

Although this blog is addressed to parents, I hope teachers will identify and agree with the traits I describe.

Is your child struggling at school? What is his or her relationship with the teacher like?

Recently I was reminded of how NOT to teach students. My teenage daughter told me about an incident at school in which her feelings were quite hurt. Her teacher approached her and asked: “How did YOU get into Honors English? What kind of grade did you get in English before?” Ironically, my daughter has a solid “B” in the class, which isn’t too bad.

Perhaps you have encountered a teacher like this one before. Now if this particular teacher thought that she was encouraging, I’ve got news for her. You cannot hurt someone’s feelings and then expect him or her to work harder. It usually doesn’t work that way. In my opinion, the best teacher is someone who helps rather than discourages, who brings out the positives and is flexible to different learning styles.

In reality, the best teacher for a child with ADHD is someone who:

1. Is a good role model and is firm and fair to all students.

2. Has a positive attitude and tries to bring out the best in students.

3. Has a well-structured classroom with an environment that is safe and comfortable.

4. Is able to assist students with transitions and help them maintain focus and attention.

5. Is flexible to different learning styles.

6. Provides a high level of expectations yet is able to assist students to achieve success when they face new challenges.

7. Provides predictability in routines and schedules.

8. Is able to provide accommodations for students with special needs.

9. Emphasizes improvement and personal best efforts

10. Offers a lot of “hands-on,” engaging instruction.

Terry M. Dickson, MD, ACG, CPCC, is the founder and director of The Behavioral Medicine Clinic of NW Michigan that has served and supported children, adolescents, and adults with ADHD for over eleven years. He is a graduate of the ADD Coach Academy and the Coaches Training Institute and serves as vice president of the board of directors of the ADHD Coaches Organization. He is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach. Diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, Dr. Dickson speaks regularly and has been interviewed locally and nationally on radio, television, and CHADD’s Ask the Expert online. Dr. Dickson and his wife of 32 years have two teenage children, both of whom have ADHD.