Many a time, we talk about inclusiveness as one of the most primal attributes of inclusive education but digress from it. As an educator, I have encountered unique behavioural traits in a few of my students that are always regarded as trivial in many of our traditional classroom settings.
Attention-seeking behaviour or hyperactivity disorder in learners is one of those academically ignored topics even when many educators struggle to set an apt classroom atmosphere.
Dealing with a hyperactive or attention-seeking student requires a lot of effort because they have a huge urge for social recognition which distorts teacher goals, and vision and is a hiccup in classroom management. They can hardly concentrate and excel in their studies because they are continuously wandering away from the main study environment.
In the beginning, I felt disturbed to teach and at the same time attend to a Seven-year little girl who enjoyed constantly switching positions, giggling, sneaking out of the classroom, excessive hand-raising, going mute when picked on to participate in activities or touching my feet; characters that are typical in children with hyperactivity disorder.
Taking a new direction as a teacher has been by understanding that it’s how we set rules for positive behaviour, creative thinking, and the relationship we build with such students that can salvage the situation instead of ridiculing them or simply putting on an ignore hat unless it’s a “flexible and planned” ignore approach. Where a teacher pretends to be unbothered but closely keeps an eye on their student for any positive change in behaviour. Frankly speaking, how we have applied the “ignore strategy” in most cases doesn’t depict inclusion.
Additionally, garnering helpful knowledge from an informative article by Susan Saulrel, a writer and teacher has helped me get an inquisitive Juliet Tibatya with a propensity for attention seeking to focus. For instance, teaching hyperactive students to be useful by engaging them in useful activities, teaching them how to relax, engaging in hands-on learning, allowing them to move, and creating their own reward system.
We have a colourful panda bear sharpener in our classroom that I introduced to my students and for one to have the bear stay in their palms means responding to questions aptly instead of beaming with a smile the way Juliet has always done. To keep her even more focused, she takes part in leadership roles and must adhere to our leadership rules; leading by example and leaders are role models. Her time to fish for undue attention is always occupied with important tasks that will sharpen her confidence and critical thinking. Thankfully, she is swiftly shifting into a great and focused student. Most importantly, it’s understanding, unconditional love, and redefining the concept of inclusion to cater for such a student that is crucial.
Written by Kantono Catherine
Teach For Uganda Cohort 4 Fellow