Please help: Student Teaching/Lesson Planning with ADHD

I’m student teaching starting next week, but I am having trouble even getting through the small binder of school info and schedules my cooperating teacher gave me. I’m excited she gave it to me, and I know there’s all sorts of helpful info in there I need to lesson plan, but when I open it I just feel so overwhelmed! I also feel overwhelmed in lesson planning (I currently have NONE.) I get overwhelmed by all the choices and because I dont know what will and wont work yet. It’s like, I never can pin down a choice. I want to be a teacher, I just have one semester to finish my degree, this one. This lesson planning and binder, and also all the paperwork and preparing for the state teaching tests, I just feel very overwhelmed and scattered, and I feel like I need some help. I really feel like crying. I see the students and actually teach, and I have so much fun! However all the paperwork and lesson plans and PRAXIS tests, pre testing, post testing, it makes me feel overwhelmed enough to cry. It’s very hard for me staying focused on the planning more than 15 minutes and I get frustrated with myself. Teachers, any tips? How did you make it through your degree?
(I’d like to note that I was just diagnosed this past Monday, and I haven’t gotten the message from my doctor yet about going in for medication, and I was diagnosed with severe ADHD)

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I used to work as a teaching assistant while trying to figure out whether I wanted to be a teacher, and all the reasons you’ve listed are reasons I decided not to go for it :sweat_smile:

That said, delivering lessons is where ADHDers are at our prime! You’ll be able to engage kids like nobody else can, so don’t give up.

At the school I worked in there was a staff room, which had a separate work area where teachers sat and did their planning/paperwork etc. Sitting with other people who are working can be motivating, plus they’re there if you need to ask any questions. Also, instead of trying to read that binder cover-to-cover, just try and pick out some key information.

When I started my current office job they gave me a similar binder to go through with loads of really useful tips, guides, information, templates etc. 8 months later, I’m being asked to rewrite it, and I’m finding parts that I never read… but I’ve got on fine without them so it’s okay!

Maybe try going through the binder page by page, and instead of trying to absorb the information, just figure out what the page is about and put a sticky note on it if it’s a really important one? If it’s something that you don’t need straight away, leave it blank. Then at the end, just look at the pages with a sticky note. If you need to, go through those ones and narrow it down even more by things you can action right now and things you can’t.

It may help to visit/revisit Jessica’s video about tackling the paper monster and looking up some priority matrices you can use :slight_smile:


Also, if you can’t focus for more than 15 minutes, try your best to break planning down into 15 minute chunks. Could you plan your starter activity first, then take a break before planning the next part of the lesson?


@djelibeybi got their post in before me - and gave some great advice!

I’m a university TA and was adjunct faculty of a sophomore level university STEM course.

  • Rule Zero is to love teaching, have fun teaching, and be as much a mentor and source of personal empowerment for your students as possible. This is the most important one, and looks like you’re there!

  • Rule One is to find AS MUCH information on how others have taught the same course, including the school’s examination/grading requirements, the course syllabus, and any worksheets, lesson plans, and lecture slides they’re willing to share. It seems you’re also there!

  • Rule Two is to grind through studying and understanding the massive wealth of content. Sorry — no magic wand to make it go away or appear in your brain. I would suggest watching Jessica’s video “The Wall Of Awful” and videos related to task management for perspective on navigating though the overwhelming nature of this process.

As to some specific things you shared:

  • That happens for most people, not just us ADHD brains. Why not work in 15 minute intervals, then take a break? As to getting frustrated with yourself: why not list 6-8 of those 15 minute sessions on a sheet of paper with a box next to each, then cross off boxes as you complete each mini session? Your progress will not tap you on the shoulder and say “Ooh Look How Much You’ve Done!!! Good Job!!!” — YOU need to be your own cheerleader.
  • Persistence, Perseverance, Eagerness, Earnestness, Honesty, Humility, Vision, and Ambition" . Let them be your sword, shied, armor, and compass in life.

  • A recent reply I made to @ConfusedbutADHDandLD linked in the below line could provide some additional insights: My Brain sucks!

Lastly: despite the emotional aspects of ADHD, you still have much control over how you choose to respond to your situation. You might see it now as a boat scattered in a storm desperately trying to reach the harbor, and maybe it is.

  • One Captain accepts the situation, responds to the overwhelm with defeat or fears of defeat, gives up on his spirit, and cries through the storm until his boat breaks apart and sinks below the waves as skies clear the next morning.

  • Another Captain accepts the situation, responds to the overwhelm with defiance and desires of victory, reinforces his spirit, and sweats through the storm until his boat - broken and taking on water though it is, crawls in the harbor as the skies clear the next morning.



Thank you all for giving such awesome answers!

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Hi, I had a follow up question, it’s about studying for the PRAXIS teaching exams. I’m feeling a bit lost with it. How long should I study for? How on earth do I even begin to tackle such a wide breadth of information? Definitely have to look back at the wall of awful because just looking at this study book I feel stressed.

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No idea what a ‘PRAXIS’ exam is.

This recent vid I saw might help, however:


I somehow missed this thread in August but it just waved at me from underneath a different one. Fabulous advice in here :grinning:

I am hoping to finish my teaching master’s in 2020, just gearing up for a major clearing up of last modules/files etc. Perfect timing!

How is it going your end, @lilnickiwonder?

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