A classroom containing students that do not suffer from any disorder provides the teacher with the greatest flexibility in classroom arrangement. In fact, to develop all Gardner–described intelligences, the mainstream classroom may have activity tables (work stations) where groups of students meet, discuss, and work cooperatively to complete a task at hand. While this provides great flexibility, it is also rare.
If there are ADHD-diagnosed students included in the class, having work stations is not recommended. The teacher will have to carry out adjustments in classroom layout and arrangement to ensure that the special needs of these students are met.
Optimizing Layout to Reduce Distractions
The general rule is to reduce distractions that will steal the attention of students with ADHD away from learning. Here are some pointers to remember.
- Post clear rules, including the consequences and rewards – All students, special or not, will benefit from a constant reminder of the rules of the classroom. Such rules should be clearly stated and posted visibly. Needless to say, the consequences and rewards that come with the rules should be logical.
- Keep the ADHD students in close proximity of the teacher – The desks of ADHD-diagnosed students should be situated near the teacher. This will make the monitoring of students easier. The proximity will also provide the teacher numerous opportunities to encourage the these students. Refrain from placing students with ADHD in assigned seats near each other. It is more beneficial to have a well-focused and quiet student nearby.
- Stick to row seating – It might be more interesting to have creative seating layouts or arrangements but this will most likely cause distractions. Thus, the teacher should maintain the traditional row seating classroom arrangement. With such an arrangement, special-needs students in front will not be distracted or bothered by the rest of the students.
- Keep students with ADHD away from windows and hallways – Numerous, tantalizing distractions are just outside the window. Students can look at something as basic as the moving clouds and forget the task at hand. Of course, an ADHD-diagnosed student might be more easily distracted by noises rather than visual stimuli, so keep in mind what distractions lie just outside the door as well. When seating your students, those with ADHD should also be placed away from the hallway and the door if at all possible.
The classroom arrangement in mainstream classes that include one or more ADHD students is slightly different from traditional classroom setups. Yet the difference is not so radical as to interfere with the academic performance of all students.
The arrangements suggested in this article are meant to help special needs students cope with their ADHD, while optimizing learning in a structured and supported environment.