Teachers Tell Of Life On ADHD Frontline

Elementary school teachers in Indonesia have described working with ADHD students. The critical message is they need to know more about the condition.

By Iriani Indri Hapsari, Universitas Negeri Jakarta

JAKARTA, Oct 17 – A teacher tells of students who are sad because they feel rejected by their peers or even bullied by their friends while other teachers discuss the problems they might have with parents. Some admit to their own lack of knowledge.

All are elementary school teachers discussing the challenges they face dealing with students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Their stories emerged in a case study of 38 teachers in elementary schools in a major Indonesian city. It shows how the teachers see ADHD and respond to the students who experience it.

It’s a potential insight into Indonesia’s broader experience of dealing with ADHD in schools.

Indonesia has a commitment to provide equal education opportunities for all students enshrined in its national education laws.

That puts its teachers on the front line of making an inclusive system work for the benefit of their students.

Many of those students will be living with ADHD and dealing with its typical symptoms like inattentiveness or difficulty in maintaining concentration or focus.

Yet while teachers play a vital role in helping students with ADHD adapt to the learning environment and socialise effectively, there are challenges that limit the success of their education and well-being in school.

The case study indicated there are gaps in teacher understanding of ADHD and in the training and support they receive to deal with it and jhow that can impact their students. Despite that, it appears teachers have been taking the initiative and trying different approaches to help their students.

Students with ADHD have a lot of potential but experience academic underachievement and social difficulties. Understanding teachers’ perceptions of ADHD-related problems is crucial for effective support.

To fulfill their multifaceted roles as educators, instructors, mentors, directors, trainers, assessors, and evaluators, teachers need to understand individual student characteristics, including those with ADHD.

The study found that teacher knowledge of ADHD ranged from a basic understanding through to not even having heard of it and expressing confusion when the term is mentioned.

Teachers involved in the study reported students with ADHD often exhibit negative feelings about themselves. They might suffer from depression, harbor negative self-perceptions and believe that others dislike them or view them as ‘weird’.

These students might develop low self-esteem, feeling frustrated and different from their peers.

The teachers told how they thought these problems could affect the students, their social relations even with their own families, their behaviour, their perception by others and their academic performance.

The teachers said such students might be rejected or bullied by peers, leading to isolation. The study also showed teachers and parents might feel upset and frustrated when dealing with students with ADHD, straining relationships.

They said those students frequently engaged in impulsive and disruptive behaviours, often without realising the harm they cause. They might struggle to control their emotions and actions, leading to fighting, stealing, or bullying their peers.

These behaviours can create challenges for both teachers and classmates.

Students wth ADHD are often stigmatised and labelled negatively by teachers, peers’ parents, and peers themselves. The study showed that can make life so uncomfortable for students they don’t want to attend school.

The study showed the academic challenges that can come from the symptoms of ADHD, like inattention and impulsivity. Teachers said students might struggle to focus on their work and the classroom atmosphere might also suffer from disruption affecting the education of all in the class.

Teachers play a crucial role in overcoming these challenges.

Several themes and strategies emerged from the study on how teachers managed and supported students with ADHD, especially from teachers with some knowledge of the condition.

While their knowledge on the subject might be limited, teachers were taking the initiative to experiment with different approaches. For example, they were setting clear classroom rules, implementing rewards and consequences for behaviour, using interactive and engaging teaching methods and providing visual aids. They were also closely monitoring and guiding students in their tasks.

The teachers also saw the importance of collaborating with other teachers, parents, school psychologists, doctors, and therapists.

They were also taking steps to raise awareness about ADHD among students, parents and peers. They tried to ensure that classmates understood the unique challenges faced by their peers with ADHD and emphasised the importance of not isolating these students.

Teachers were also actively communicating with parents to provide insights and to encourage a supportive home environment.

Those discussions included recommendations to encourage students to participate in extracurricular activities like sport that channel their energy positively.

They might also discuss additional academic support through tutoring or shadow teachers, or consultation with experts for exploring therapeutic options such as medication, behavioural therapy or remedial therapy.

The researchers concluded that the elementary school teachers generally need more knowledge about ADHD.

The study showed the teachers themselves had identified the various challenges associated with ADHD and were trying to address them.

However, it showed obvious knowledge gaps persist and that most teachers lacked formal training in ADHD.

The study highlighted the need for teachers to enhance their ADHD knowledge through training, aligning with international research highlighting the benefits of teacher knowledge and training in ADHD.

Teachers also need to proactively seek information about ADHD from diverse sources for self-led development.

More support from schools and governments, including a push for more awareness about ADHD, is essential.

Iriani Indri Hapsari is a lecturer in the Faculty of Educational Psychology, Universitas Negeri Jakarta.

Article courtesy of 360info.   

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