Working with Instructors

This is an episode about confronting lack of experience in a slow-moving educational system and an effort to get what you need out of your educational career.

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If you’ve ever tried to engage in a discussion of your ADHD with a busy professor and run into frustration, you’re not alone. This week, we asked a group of instructors what they would like to hear when working with ADHD students and the results were puzzling, frustrating, dare we say disappointing? But there’s room for hope thanks to some enterprising student services folks and a general spirit of educators that really do want the best for their students.

This is an episode about confronting lack of experience in a slow-moving educational system and an effort to get what you need out of your educational career.

Episode Transcript

Brought to you by The ADHD Podcast Community on Patreon

Pete: Hello, everybody, and welcome to “Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast” on RashPixel.FM. I’m Pete Wright, and right over there is Nikki Kinzer.

Nikki: Hello, everyone. Hello, Pete, in Colorado.

Pete: In Colorado. You know, I do love Colorado. I’m here in Colorado Springs, hanging out at my parents’ house. They just returned here. You know, I grew up here mostly and right at the foot of Pikes Peak. And the weather has just been unreal. It is such a great… It’s a short trip, but it’s been really fun, and great to be able to do a little backyard podcasting. This is weird. My parents don’t golf, but they ended up in this place on a golf course. And there is a chance that someone will play through as far as I know. Like, I don’t know how serious I should worry about shagging balls here.

Nikki: Oh, you probably… Yeah. I think you’re gonna be fine.

Pete: I think so. As I look at their house, you know, you can always tell… Like, I look for the pockmarks, if the house has been hit by ball and theirs doesn’t have any. And so, I think we’re okay, but I do worry about such things, you know, anxiety.

Nikki: Right. Right. And all of a sudden, all these balls are gonna be coming at you. You’re gonna be dodging them.

Pete: That’s right. That’s right. I worry. It’s a little bit of that.

Nikki: Worst case scenario.

Pete: Yeah. Yeah. I need to take care of myself. Yeah. We are gonna be talking more about it. We’re continuing our back to school series here, getting ready for school. And so, we’re gonna talk be talking a little bit more about the faculty perspective and continuing our conversation from last week. Before we do that, head over to takecontroladhd.com, get to know us a little bit better. You can listen to the show right there on the website or subscribe to our mailing list right there on the homepage, and you’ll get an email each time a new episode is released. You can obviously connect with us on Twitter or Facebook at Take Control ADHD. And we’re gonna start off with a question. We’ve got a question that came in that is actually related to our conversation this week. I think it’s a great question, came in over on our Discord channel for Patreon support of this show. And I think it’s a good one. I noticed you put it in here early to make sure that we talked about it.

Nikki: To make sure that we’re talking about it. That’s right.

Pete: Do you wanna read it? Do you want me to read it?

Nikki: I want you to read it because you are the KCK some between the two of us.

Pete: All right. Here we go. Actually, @NikkiDiscordCoach, and @Ptoned… Yeah. Our tags don’t work in reading.

Nikki: They really don’t.

Pete: There it is. No. That doesn’t work. “Actually, Nikki and Pete, since we’re in student month, any advice on taking completely non-accountable online courses, lots of great information, but almost impossible to complete for someone with ADHD? Most of the classes version of ”accountability“ is a Facebook group where you can go talk to other students, but little to no interaction with the course creator or teacher, no assignment, due dates, sometimes no assignments, no end date, no exams, or really any kind of accountability. I would love anyone’s ideas on how to extract the information from these without getting completely sidetracked with no one to let down if I do nothing.” Oh, Nikki, as someone who has created online courses yourself…

Nikki: An online course, right?

Pete: …what do you recommend here, please?

Nikki: I know. And that’s why I wanted to make sure we talked about it because I’m reading this and I’m like, “Oh, oh.”

Pete: That’s a really good point.

Nikki: That’s a really good point. Well, and it is a good point because it’s something that, yes, I do have online courses available on my website. And this is an issue, you know, for many of the students and something that I’ve taken very seriously, and have been thinking about new ways to build in accountability because this person, listener, who asked this question, is very valid in their concerns, right? Because depending on how the online course is set up, now, you and I, specifically, set ours up so that the videos were short and the lessons were short, so it didn’t seem so cumbersome to sit down and actually watch the lesson. So, I have that going for me. It is ADHD friendly way to get information. But other online courses may not be set that way. And you may be watching a video for an hour, and that’s too long. So, this is hard because I don’t really have a clear answer because I’m still trying to figure out how to do it for my own students. I think that something that comes to my mind right away is that, what is the interest level that you have in the course, right? Because when we look at ADHD, we know that you are going to be more driven and more motivated by something you’re really excited about. So, I think we have to probably, you know, do a temperature check. Is this something that you really care about? Is it something that you really need? Is it something that is worth trying to figure out how to get some accountability in it? Especially when you say, “I have no one to let down if I do nothing.” Well, the person you’re letting down is yourself.

Pete: Well, yeah. And I had a further question on this one because it sounds like this is a course that isn’t necessarily designed for credit for some overall program, something that, you know, the student is doing, like for a degree because that has its own sense of kind of external motivation, right?

Nikki: Correct.

Pete: You’ve got to pass a class in order to get your degree if it’s part of your degree program. But this is something like, you know, I do this all… I signed up for these masterclasses, I signed up for a masterclass, you know, I don’t even remember what it was, and I was a dutiful participant for two weeks. And then, you know, stuff gets in the way and mostly it’s just fireworks and I’m gone. And so, I struggle with that too, for these online classes, I think the first thing that I would recommend is to find accountability, which is get somebody to do it with you.

Nikki: That’s what I was thinking. Right.

Pete: If it’s something that’s kind of for fun, right, create your own group, your own cohort, and see if you can get somebody who will go through the process with you and, as such, you know, help you to stay on track. You don’t necessarily have to do it with, actually, you know, a friend and drag them with you. You could do it if there’s a way to jump in that Facebook group and find somebody who you like, who you generally like the tone of their comments, and write them privately and say, “Hey, you know, this is who I am. This is kind of my situation. I’d love to have kind of an accountability partner and maybe work through some of this content together so that we get the most out of it.” You know, I mean, you can certainly do that. And I think building that accountability partnership into your part of the process, if that’s what you need, then this goes into the self-advocacy conversation we had last week and continue this week, that being a strong advocate for yourself might mean being an advocate by recruiting your peers to help.

Nikki: Absolutely. Well, now, I was just thinking, like, within my own courses, if you contacted me and said, “Hey, is there anybody else in the course that would wanna do an accountability or be an accountability partner?” You know, I would certainly ask that question, you know, send out an email and say, “hey, we’ve got somebody who wants to be matched up with someone.” And so, I would also contact the teacher, the person who’s doing the online course, and also find out, you know, is there a way to get ahold of other people that are doing the course? Is there a way…? You know, are you interested in doing some kind of group, you know, meeting or something like that? You never know. Course creators are creative. They may be able to help you in that regard. You just never know.

Pete: Well, and there’s nothing to build accountability into your own process than taking a volunteer effort to lead accountability for others.

Nikki: Oh, for sure.

Pete: You know, right, by just reaching out and saying, “Hey, I’d love to start a cohort.” That requires a level of participation for you that can really help you to dig into the material.

Nikki: Yeah. I like that.

Pete: I hope that helps. If this show has ever helped you to live in a new way with your ADHD, if it’s allowed you to peek around the corner and look at your experience with ADHD in a new and unique way, if it’s ever helped you to find, you know, accountability, or strength, or partnership with others by asking new questions of your own ADHD, we sure would appreciate your support @patreon.com/theadhdpodcast. This is listener-supported podcasting. With your small monetary support, you allow us to grow the show, to do more with the show, and to offer more back as a result of the income from the show, Nikki and I, this is a part of our jobs. And it allows us to do the things that we want to do to grow our careers. We have no other boss. We have no one paying the bills. You are paying the bills. And we deeply appreciate those of you who have already elected to open your wallets and help support “The ADHD Podcast” for all of those who can’t. So, once again, visit, patreon.com/theadhdpodcast. We have some simple tiers over there. You choose the level that you would like to support us and then get access to a rich and vibrant ADHD community, get access to ad-free versions of the show, and all other resources downloads, workshops, every month video workshops that are customed just for members. We appreciate your attention to this, to helping us grow and to helping this show become something better, patreon.com/theadhdpodcast. This has been a really hard one for me, this week’s show.

Nikki: I had a feeling because when I went in to check out the notes this morning, there wasn’t anything there.

Pete: Yeah. Well, you know, to be… Yeah. Like, usually these things kind of come, they get rolling, and they’re easy. And I started this one weeks ago and I started… Do you ever feel like you’re in a bubble, right, that your whole worldview, like you think everybody agrees with you and their experience is universal? And suddenly, you realize, “Oh, wait, no.”

Nikki: It’s not.

Pete: That’s not. Do you ever feel like that?

Nikki: Yes. And then your bubble gets popped, and it’s sad.

Pete: My bubble was popped. And that’s been what’s so hard this week, preparing for this show had me feeling that way. My bubble is and has been over my career teaching. One in which I’m pretty open about my experience. And I think as a result of that, there’s sort of a standard invitation, either implicitly or explicitly for my students that have come across my path to be open with me about their experience, and in this case, with ADHD. That, as it turns out, is not universal.

Nikki: Right. And we have definitely heard some of that feedback in Patreon, right, with the discussions that have been going on, about people’s experiences with professors. So, you’re right. It’s not universal.

Pete: It’s not universal. And it’s incredibly frustrating because all I wanna say is, “All of you people who are struggling, I wish you would have me as your instructor because I’m good at this stuff, working with students with ADHD.” I love to be prepared at this level, to support people with ADHD, whether you share accommodations or not. And some of that is because I’m a big believer in universal course design. And we’ll talk a little bit about what that means because I think it’s important to be aware of. In this case, I had this grand idea of what I wanted this show to be about and it’s not gonna be that. And it’s the result of the feedback that I got from some other peers who are also educators and their sort of lack of experience of dealing with this stuff. But first, we have to address the design of teaching and then the reality of teaching. Now, the design of teaching, when you go and become a faculty member at a university, there are a lot of required ongoing sort of trainings that you have to take. And those involve, you know, FERPA and Department of Education Requirements, and privacy requirements, and all kinds of things that you have to know. But it’s not even so much that you have to know it, the real requirement is that the university has to demonstrate that they gave it to you, right? It’s super protectionary, right? You have to go through the class, and click this and pass a little quiz, and do all, you know, the rigmarole to prove that the university gave you that information. It’s like any other corporate training initiative. You have to have gone through sexual harassment training. You have to have gone through all that stuff. So, the design is to ensure that the faculty know what they need to know when they need to know it. The reality is that faculty rarely retain what they learn in those required trainings if it’s outside of their domain of expertise, especially, if they are never confronted with needing to use the material.

Nikki: Which would include most likely students with disabilities or special needs.

Pete: Or special needs. I would say, especially learning disabilities, ADHD, in particular, right? Because those are sort of, I don’t know, laxidasically called the invisible disabilities, right? You can’t see that disability when it comes into your classroom. And so, it’s easy for instructors to ignore those disabilities, you know, in spite of what is required of them. And so, when we started talking about this back to school season, I thought it would be really fun to reach out to some of my former colleagues, and say, “Hey, what do you, you know, wanna share with working with students with ADHD? What made your student relationships better with you as a faculty member, as their instructor in the classroom? Right? How do you feel like you could really help those students succeed?” So, I pitched them, having them come on and record interviews with me, and then I would play them, and you could respond to them with me, and we could talk about it, it would be great.

Nikki: Is this what you had in your mind?

Pete: Yeah. No. it was great. It was Valhalla. And Nikki, it was gonna be so cool. And then reality set in and I learned three powerful lessons this week that I would like to share with you.

Nikki: Oh, I don’t like this.

Pete: Well, none of them are lessons that I had expected to confront. Right? Number one. Students are not talking about ADHD with their instructors, right? And I have to say this with a grain of salt. Like, my, you know, research sample is very small. These are people that I have talked with. And so, my contact list is not a list of thousands of other professors across the country. It’s very, very small. So, that’s…

Nikki: Keep that in mind.

Pete: Just keep that in mind. Of the emails that I sent, only one fellow instructor reported that a student had ever reached out directly discussing their ADHD in their years of teaching. And has been teaching, at this point, for 15 years. One.

Nikki: And only one?

Pete: One student has ever approached that instructor directly and said, “I am living and working with ADHD, and I need a little bit of support.” One.

Nikki: Wow. Okay. So, that actually ties into what we were talking about last week, with the accommodations and why it’s so important for students to be advocate for them…or advocates for themselves, and to talk to the instructors about what they could potentially need throughout the semester.

Pete: Absolutely. So, that’s number one. Number two. As a result, I think, of number one, instructors don’t really know what to do when they are confronted by ADHD. Right? And so, this was that sort of next-level question and nearly half of those of my colleagues that I wrote to, reported suspecting or strongly suspecting that they have had ADHD students in their classroom that were directly impacted by stress of workload and planning, but none reported. None of the instructors reported doing anything to adjust to support those students accordingly. So, they’re standing in class or they’re working with the student online, they recognize the symptoms of ADHD, they don’t know what to do. They do nothing.

Nikki: Which they probably can’t really do much, right? Because isn’t that that conversation that a professor can’t just ask a student? “Do you have ADHD?”

Pete: That is true because this was our, you know, Fight Club analogy. Right? You can talk about Fight Club. But I want you to hold on to that because this is really important. It gets down to our universal course design that I wanna talk about in a minute. So, just hang on to that because it’s a great question. So, that was number two. Number three. Working with disability services can be onerous for both students and faculty. Now, we know we’ve heard reports from students who said that working with Disability Services is hard, that the requirements, in many cases, from Disability Services or student services, those requirements are too high, given students with ADHD, to get accommodations approved, right? And they’re asking for too much. They’re asking for too much time, whatever. And it can be a financial problem, too, if there’s anything you need to pay for, if you’re struggling with insurance. But there are a lot of complications that can make ADHD accommodations an accommodation of privilege. And that shouldn’t be that way. And it really depends on the school, but it can be onerous for the student, right? We get that. It can also be onerous for the faculty, depending on the instructor’s perspective, right? In this case, instructors report high frustration in working with the Office of Disability Services, indicating that requirements imposed get in the way of teaching everyone else. If available, in fact, professors on the list may delegate dealing with accommodations to TAs, as much as they can. The indication here is that professors just don’t like being told what to do in the classroom. And if they have spent years teaching the same class the same way, they are not keen on sitting down and figuring out a new way to do it for one or two students and get frustrated as a result of doing that. Those are some of the big three learnings that I found myself enormously frustrated, bubble popped, and popped again, and popped again.

Nikki: Can I just say something a little bit more optimistic?

Pete: I want you to because I wanna make it pivot.

Nikki: Okay. Because I know that these things are so true, even with just your small little sample. It’s probably very close to what you would find if you did, you know, 1,000 people, right? I think it’s probably pretty close. But I also wanna say out there that I work with lots of students who have gone through the process and they’ve had wonderful professors, and really, it did work. It worked out. So, I don’t want this to make people who are in the school system right now feel like, “Well, it’s not even worth trying,” because I do want people to try.

Pete: Yes. I’m really glad you said that. And that’s the message. And in fact, that’s the message I’m coming to because there is hope out there. You know, the road is long and kind of depressing, particularly from my perspective as a faculty member. There, I am wanting to tell you, you know, what instructors wanna hear. And what I learned was, by all appearances, instructors don’t appear to want to hear anything, right? They just wanna, like… If you just looked at this, and tried to draw some conclusions from it, the conclusion is largely, “Hide everything, don’t talk about it, don’t talk about Fight Club, do your best and know that it’s probably not gonna be enough because the system is set up against you.” And I hate that.

Nikki: I hate that too.

Pete: I cannot abide. The research is tough too, you know. As I am prone to do, I started popping up some research articles to see if there are any studies on, you know, attempting to understand the instructors understanding of ADHD. And most of those studies use incredibly small, highly localized samples, even in the U.S., where ADHD research has been going on steady since the 90s and, you know, earlier. But there is consensus around this point that educators, in general, do not receive education on ADHD in the classroom. Instead, they rely on anecdotal information on personal experience with ADHD, which is often a frustrating set of experiences because they don’t know how to approach ADHD when determining a strategy of working with students with ADHD. So, they’re not equipped to have those conversations. The only training that they get is largely human resources-based and not structurally based on curriculum development. And so, it’s hard to come back around and say, “How do you change an entire culture that is designed not to facilitate these kinds of things easily. So, I found my way back to a journal article published by or in the ”SM Journal of Community Medicine“ by Walczak and Estrada. And Walczak works as an IT instructor and Estrada is a nurse. And they are from University of South Florida and University of South Carolina, College of Nursing, respectively. And they uncovered and I quote, in their research, ”Teachers rate students identified as ADHD with or without treatment less favorably the non-labeled students on appropriate behaviors, as well as on intelligence and overall personality. They also have unfavorable attitudes toward working with ADHD students as compared to other disorders, perhaps in part, to competing demands of time and other student needs." Again, that’s also pretty dark.

But finally, and this is the one to take home, “Teachers report feeling that the requirements of dealing with any associated disruptive behaviors associated with ADHD, caused them not to be able to effectively teach to their general population class, lowering their self-efficacy perceptions. It makes teachers feel bad about themselves when they don’t have an answer for an ADHD or learning disabled student.” Think about that. Part of what is going on here is that the teachers, their self-efficacy, their value, their vision of their own value in the classroom is tied to them being able to teach effectively. And when they run headlong into an experience with a student, where they don’t know the answers, and they haven’t been trained to deliver those answers, that increases their level of anxiety and frustration for engaging future students. And so, it’s the self-perpetuating spiral that causes student-teacher relationships to be challenged. And back to our conversation last week, it increases the responsibility, I would say, and the authority on the student to do some of that legwork, to come in prepared, to know how to engage faculty in a way that helps them get their needs met. And that’s not going to be easy. And as this research indicates, it’s highly localized. Your mileage will vary because all schools have a different approach to this exact thing. We’re talking about, you know, taking on the system, right? And you just have to ask yourself, when do you wanna take on the system and when do you just wanna get to the other side of it, right? We hear that all the time. Like, it’s just too frustrating to go through this getting accommodations. It’s just too much to have to put up that fight. Well, what you notice in college, and I think one of the most frustrating things about going through this process, it’s that, there’s a lot of fear and frustration and resignation coming from students with ADHD, who don’t want to engage because they fear that judgment. But that responsibility, you have to do your part, and the school will do their part, and they will help this third party, the instructor to come into line. And that may be a positive experience. It may be a negative experience for the instructor, but it is their obligation and part of their job. And that’s what I wanna talk about next.

Nikki: This is great. Keep going, Pete.

Pete: Well, I’m on a rant. I’m on a rant.

Nikki: Hey, I’m following you.

Pete: I’m telling you, it hit me in the fields, Nikki Kinzer, right in the fields.

Nikki: I’m so sorry. Yeah. I get it. All right, so what we did…

Pete: Well, I started asking the question online, through some of the Reddit communities with Student Services coordinators, who are dealing with some of these very things. Like, what do you report, you know, in your office? How do you help students to engage in these things? And you ask any of them, and they tell you, the number one job of their office is to ensure that you have what you need to succeed. You know, and as we discussed last week, there are things you have to do for yourself first, right? So, I found a wonderful resource in a colleague at University of Washington, who told me a few things they recommend that I found very helpful. And my hope is that this will lead to a path of optimism as we leave this conversation. Number one. Disclose your ADHD to trusted staff in the Student Services office or the disability office early, and begin the process of requesting accommodations immediately. Go through the work of getting the accommodations settled with the university, as soon as you can, as soon as you are accepted and admitted into the program because that sets the stage for your entire dialogue, with all academic departments going forward. You have to do this work as frustrating as it is, and as ridiculous as you think the Student Services Office is being in asking what they need to ask of you. It is part of the process. But once you get to the other side of it, once you climb that mountain, the doors open wide, right? And you can request a number of things that you never thought you could get. So, you know, and this is the one that can frustrate recalcitrant instructors because, you know, with accommodations in the end, your instructors have no choice but to work with the Student Services office to get you the accommodations in place that you have. And your faculty doesn’t have to work with you. They have to work with the Student Services office, with your advocate, not you. So, your responsibility is not to put up a fight with this faculty member who doesn’t wanna support you. Your responsibility is just to get that process started and completed as early as possible if you do one thing.

Nikki: So, if you’re finding resistance from the professor, then your recommendation, I think is what I’m hearing, is then go back to the Student Services and say, “This is what’s happening.”

Pete: Yes. Yeah. Especially, if you have accommodations in place, that’s all the ammunition you need. I went in and I said… We agreed, me and Student Services, that I get time and a half on tests, Student Services now has the responsibility of going to that faculty member and ensuring that you get time and a half on tests. That’s the deal. So, you don’t have to necessarily engage with the instructor once that process is done. And that I think is a protective nature, right? You don’t have to talk about Fight Club. You just get time and a half because that’s the agreed-upon accommodation. So, number two. Get familiar with Disability Services resources. So, you know, it is a surprise, always, the number of students who just don’t know what rights…

Nikki: What’s there.

Pete: …they have available to them. And that is, I think, you know, when you look at the Student Services Coordinator Community, that’s an enormous frustration because they can help students who helped themselves and getting familiar early with those resources, and just keeping them in the back of your head, print them out, put them in a file somewhere, so you know you can turn to them, so you know what resources you have available to you. Number two. Get familiar with the University Writing Center or homework assistance resources for your department. Understand what those resources are and start using them quickly. And I’ll get to why in a minute. Make a complete schedule of all of your instructor’s office hours, put it on paper, right, get it someplace where you can carry it around and show it when you need to. Add more on that in a minute. Build a relationship with a tutor or a series of tutors in your subject area so that you can say, “I am meeting with tutors to help me through this,” kind of you need that accountability, and those resources exist. Document your study environment. Make a list of what your ideal study environment looks like and what you’re able to achieve on your own. And put that on paper. Make sure it is documented. And then find a study partner in your classes or in your department to help you work through some of these things. And in turn, you help them. Now, we talked about a lot of these last week. And so, it feels like… I know what you might be saying is like, “Pete, this is about what the faculty members want. Why are you telling us all the students stuff?” Well, the perspective here is really important. You need to be able to demonstrate, at some level, that you have done and are doing this work to your professors when you talk to them. They will be much more apt to support you without grief when approached by the Disabilities and Students support staff if they know, at some level, that you’re doing some heavy lifting too. And so, it is a partnership, but the ideal relationship here is that it is not just you and your instructor, it is you, your instructor, and your advocate in the Student Disabilities office. Then those three have to work together to actually ensure that you’re getting what you need. And the faculty will do what they need to do to make you successful, you know, as long as all the I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed.

Nikki: Love it.

Pete: There’s one last thing that it bugged me, it’s stuck in my claw or my craw. It’s stuck somewhere and it hurts. I found a set of resources online. This is not just one individual paper that was talking about this, it was a number of people who were advocating for ADHD adults working with their faculty, their disability office. And they said that the number one thing you can do is work on some of your social and communication skills before you go in and have these conversations, in particular, things like eye contact. That you should be able to make more and longer periods of eye contact with those you’re talking to because that’s the thing that frustrates non-ADHD’iers. And that if they feel like your eyes are wandering, then you’re not paying attention to them. And in order to get your accommodations… Yeah.

Nikki: I just think that’s so ironic, right?

Pete: Yeah.

Nikki: Like, here’s someone who’s living with ADHD, who probably has, you know, some issues, maybe with some social skills, and you’re asking them to do more eye contact.

Pete: Right. This falls right in line with, are you willing to take on the system or do you just wanna get by? Because, you know, at some level, you may need to be aware that there are people who will judge you based on your behavior in a social situation. And in a social situation, I mean, when you were socializing with them about your accommodations, right? You’re sitting across the table from a faculty member and a student support staff, and you’re having a meeting about the required accommodations for your situation, and you can’t look at them in the eye, what my heart tells me is, of course, why bother looking at them in the eye? Are you tracking the conversation? Are you able to participate when asked questions? You be you.

Nikki: Exactly. Yeah.

Pete: But on the other hand, if you just wanna dodge any grief that might come to you, at what point do you give in and say, “Okay. I’m just gonna stare straight in your face, and that’s all I’m gonna do. And it’s gonna be weird for everybody. I’m just gonna look right at you if eye contact is what you want.” That’s all I could think about. I found myself very frustrated by anybody even writing a paper that says that one of the things that you need, you know, out of your experience with ADHD to ensure that you have better relationships with your instructors is better eye contact. Does it hurt to improve your eye contact and social skills? No. It doesn’t hurt. But should that be a requirement for you getting your needs met and accommodations? Absolutely, it should not.

Nikki: Absolutely not. And it’s so interesting because I’m just thinking like, you know, what would I tell somebody who’s going in to meet their professor for the first time? I don’t even think that that would have even… It wouldn’t have crossed my mind. It wouldn’t have at all.

Pete: Of course not. Yeah. Because it’s absurd.

Nikki: It is. It is.

Pete: And yet, it’s not absurd, right? It’s absurd and yet, it’s exactly the thing that you might hear from somebody who doesn’t understand how to relate to somebody with ADHD or learning disability or any other sort of disability. They’re not able to relate, so they want you to relate in their language, not yours. And it’s a discussion of privilege, and it’s gross. And also it is the reality, at some level.

Nikki: Yeah. That’s interesting.

Pete: So, that’s what I have this week,

Nikki: You have a little note here about note-taking. What was that about?

Pete: Oh, note-taking. You know, that was another one that I thought was an interesting aside. And I don’t actually have as much of a problem with this one because I think it’s super useful as a study skill. Demonstrate note-taking by taking notes a lot in all of the meetings that you have with people is that you demonstrate your level of participation by openly taking notes on the subject that you were talking about, as you were having that conversation. And that is a social skill that communicates attention. And it can be handy if you feel like that’s a thing you need to communicate. That is a handy tool that you might wanna practice and pull out for those who need other reinforcement of your engagement in the process.

Nikki: Well, and something I wanna add to that is one of the things I would recommend a student doing when they’re meeting their professor, is to actually have a few bullet points in front of them, so that they don’t have to rely on their memory of what they want to talk about or what they want to express in that conversation. And that’s a really easy way to prepare is to actually think, “Okay. These are the three most important points, and I’m gonna write those down.” And even if you have to tell the professor, “Okay. I just wanna review this note that I took just to make sure I covered everything,” I think that’s a very positive interaction.

Pete: I absolutely agree with that.

Nikki: Yeah. The student…

Pete: I agree with that.

Nikki: …is really prepared and cares, and wants to make this work.

Pete: Well, and that goes back to all of the fear that instructors have in changing the way they do things is around, you know, “Am I doing this just to give somebody an easy pass?” And so, at every turn, you have an opportunity to demonstrate your engagement in the process. And I think that’s really important, you know, to remember that, you know, learning some of these skills and improving some of these skills yourself demonstrates just another little notch in your belt that you’re engaged in this process. I wanna go back to something that I forgot to talk about, which is really important to me, personally, when you said, you had asked, you know, instructors can’t talk about…they can’t change their class, it was my second point. When instructors feel like they’re running into students with ADHD in class but they don’t talk about it, and they’re not supposed to talk about it.

Nikki: They’re not supposed to ask, right? Right. Right. Am I correct in that?

Pete: Yeah. They are not supposed to ask, but there is a theory, of course, designed in education and just in curriculum design called Universal Design. Right? And what that says is, when you are designing your course, what can you do to make sure that you’re designing the course for every member of your audience, so that you don’t have to teach one group different than another? Right? Is it wrong to say that I’m going to offer my course notes and presentation to my students? Is it wrong to say that I’m gonna offer a course textbook that is available in audiobook and electronic text and paper? What can I do to ensure that the resources, that my ADHD or students with learning disabilities come to class, the resources they need? Why is it wrong for me to make those resources available for everyone in my class, universally? That I’ve designed the class in such a way that you don’t even need to come to me for accommodations because the entire class is an accommodation. Think about that. Because I think that’s really important and it’s something I’ve been working on a course design with another client on actually learning to teach online. And it is an interesting thing, when you approach it that way. And so, when I was approached with this idea, well, I’ve got students that I’m pretty sure are like me, I know they’re like me, what would I want in this scenario? What have I not provided for these students, to help them be successful? And it was back then that I discovered that actually, rereleasing my course lectures as a podcast that they could subscribe to outside of class, was enormously helpful for them to be able to go back. They don’t need to worry about recording my lectures themselves because I have already done that work up front. And so, they get that as the course comes out. They get it a few days early. They can engage it. They can digest it. And then by the time they get to class, they are ready to do something, you have a much more rich experience. This is also the sort of technology behind flipping the classroom, right, where the student responsibility outside of class is now, in a flipped classroom, to engage in the material that normally would have been presented by an instructor in the class. Instead, when you get to the classroom, it is a much more of a laboratory focus. The assumption is you’ve already ingested the homework stuff. So, now we’re gonna actually put it into practice. We’re gonna design a business or a marketing campaign or, you know, a chemical experiment, something that you would not normally do in the class because now we have so much time. That is a universal design concept or a pretext that I think is really useful. So, look for that kind of language, universal course design, when you’re searching for your next College of University experience because that is…

Nikki: Is it common?

Pete: Much more so. Much more so. Yeah. Yeah. But it’s growing.

Nikki: I hope it becomes more common. Yeah.

Pete: Yeah. Yeah. And you can actually ask, you know, in your tour of, you know, students… A lot of these Students Disability offices will be able to tell you, “Yeah. You know, we have 15% reported with ADHD or 8% reported with ADHD students here in our campus. And as such, we have resources that will help you. And we are strong advocates of our ADHD students.” And so, those are the kinds of questions you can ask that will help you work with your faculty even better. So, that’s it.

Nikki: Love it. Thank you, Pete. This is great.

Pete: Well, thank you, Nikki. Thank you all for putting up with any potential noise in the backyard here. It was fun yard casting. And thanks all for tuning in.

Nikki: That’s a new thing.

Pete: It is. Yeah. I’m very excited about it. On behalf of Nikki Kinzer, I’m Pete Wright. We’ll catch you next week right here on “Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast.”

Through Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast, Nikki Kinzer and Pete Wright strive to help listeners with support, life management strategies, and time and technology tips, dedicated to anyone looking to take control of their lives in the face ADHD.