Teaching in an Inclusive Classroom.

Mr. James McKinstry, of John W Dodd Middle School Freeport, NY, teaches Maths and English to Fifteen 7th grade students 5 of whom have Attention Deficit Hyper activity Disorder (ADHD). He has two teaching assistants.

He is looking for advice on improving transitions and improving student engagement. Miss Pamela Milazza, herself diagnosed as having ADHD, came and observed the class and gave him feedback.

In the video here, he employs a number of techniques and strategies to teach these children,whilst having high expectations of them and their successful learning.

During the class the teacher uses a strategy called “Do now”. This is an activity at the start of his class for the students to attempt, which serves the functions of having the students sit down and immediately start the activity, (for example, “Write about your favorite legend or myth, if you are not sure what these words mean, write what you understand them to mean”). It also serves as formative assessment for the teacher and finally it allows the students to tune into the class, in this example – understanding fiction.

Redirection strategy was a consistent theme. Particularly in his handling of the late arriving student, who was clearly upset and there was potential for her to erupt, but due to his redirection and positive relationship with her, he handled the situation very well. In reference to relationships, he had clearly respected his students and expected them to suceed and he had clearly put work into building positive relationships with them. He also maintains emotional objectivity, he clearly understands that if poor behavior arises it is not personal towards him. He has a very positive and mature attitude towards students discipline. He clearly values and understands building positive relationships with students. I have a prezi entitled “Building Bridges” on this topic – here

Whilst these were successful strategies, there were some problems with ineffective transition strategies being used by the teacher to manage student behavior. He did not take care to inform the students specifically about what they need to do at each transition. A simple written checklist, perhaps laminated and placed on some students desks, would help. For example to transition between subjects would mean putting away one book and getting another, to transition between classrooms would mean putting thing away in order.

Another example would be giving students time to prepare for the transition, something I try to do, in my classroom we call this “Getting ready to stop”. The students are basically given a 5 minutes countdown, on the interactive whiteboard, by the end of which all the pencils, pens, erasers and books need to be back in there correct places and the students need to be ready to take a short break. This is backed by research from responsive classroom, they term this “Giving advance warning”;

giving advance warnings such as “You have five minutes before cleanup.” This gave the children time to shift gears mentally and to plan how they would manage the transition.

The relationship between the teacher and his mentor, Miss Melazza, was open and positive, she was non-judgemental and he was open-minded and receptive to her ideas, the advice she offered was helpful and practical. Mentoring if very important, although not always easy to arrange, try this resource – all about mentoring. For classroom there are many studies that show that beginning teachers who participated in some kind of induction or mentoring program performed better at various aspects of teaching, such as keeping students on task, using effective student questioning practices, adjusting classroom activities to meet students’ interests, maintaining a positive classroom atmosphere, and demonstrating successful classroom management.

One suggestion was to increase students adrenaline and excitement that would lead to more engagement, through the use of  a timer, the countdown would be up on the smart board, so that the student can have the excitement of a race against the clock. He approached this advice positively and incorporated it into his class with the feeling of  a game – a race against the clock.

Another was to individualize the strategies for each students, with the advice to ask the students “What is making it difficult for you to pay attention right now”? “What things have you tried to do to help you pay attention in the past”?

A summary of the advice contained within the video would be;

  • Give clear directions, so the students know, very clearly, what is required of them.
  • Provide checklists and other visual cues for classroom procedures.
  • Use a timer to motivate and engage students.
  • Ask students what works for them.


After watching Mr. McKinstry`s class I would like to incorporate his Do now activity, as detailed previously.

I will also incorporate redirection, to be used when students are doing something harmful to themselves or others, are too far into a mistake to correct themselves, or are too emotional to think reasonably about what they’re supposed to be doing, teachers need to redirect them with clear words. Redirecting language lets teachers provide wise external control to keep children safe and productive when their self-control is failing them.

  • Be direct and specific.
    • Instead of: “Casey, you need to work harder.”
    • Try: “Casey, put your watch away and continue with your assignment right now.”
  • Say what to do (not what not to do)
    • Instead of: “Class, stop wasting everyone’s time.”
    • Try: “Freeze. Everyone return to your seat with your folder. Then we’ll start.”
  • State a redirection as a statement
    • Instead of: “Anna, could you refocus on your math?”
      Try: “Anna, refocus on your math.”
  • Follow up with action if necessary.
    • Instead of: Redirecting Anna and then turning away immediately to tend to something else
    • Try: Directing Anna to move to a seat close to you (if sitting near classmates seemed to be pulling her off task).
      Directing Anna to “take a break” (take a positive time-out) in a place away from the action so she can regain her focus.

I will also work on providing very clear directions, by doing so student engagement is increased and the feeling of “I don`t know what to do” , which can lead to distracting behavior, is lessened. Specifically I will use the ‘go’ signal, for example “When I say ‘go’ I want you to stand up, push in your chair, and line up for break time.”


Ingersoll, R. & Strong, M. (2011). The Impact of Induction and Mentoring Programs for Beginning Teachers A Critical Review of the Research (1st ed.). Santa Cruz: University of California, Santa Cruz. Retrieved from http://rer.sagepub.com/content/81/2/201.short

Linsin, M. (2011). How To Give Your Students Unforgettable Directions | Smart Classroom Management. Smartclassroommanagement.com. Retrieved 30 July 2016, from http://www.smartclassroommanagement.com/2011/12/17/how-to-give-students-directions/

New Teacher Survival Guide: ADHD in the Classroom. (2016). Teaching Channel. Retrieved 30 July 2016, from https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/teaching-adhd-students?fd=1

Reinforcing, Reminding, and Redirecting | Responsive Classroom. (2014). Responsive Classroom. Retrieved 30 July 2016, from https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/reinforcing-reminding-and-redirecting/

Teacher Mentoring. (2016). Educationworld.com. Retrieved 30 July 2016, from http://www.educationworld.com/preservice/classroom/mentoring.shtml

Teaching Transitions | Responsive Classroom. (2007). Responsive Classroom. Retrieved 30 July 2016, from https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/teaching-transitions/





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