Turn on your ADHD Brain for Learning

Here’s something cool.

I got the shock of my life a few days ago when my Piano teacher said to me, “I like your energy, attitude and drive.”

I have NEVER heard those words directed at me from any teacher!   My entire life I have struggled with teachers even liking me.

For most classes I “have” to be there and my ADHD brain fights doing anything I “have” to do.  On a good day, school is boring. It’s something I “have” to do in order to someday own a home, support a family, and have some cash do to what I want to do.

Can we do school differently?

In the last few years, school has been way better because I have been working with my parents and school district to get high school credits doing things I am more interested in. 

That’s right — I said I’m getting school credit for learning things my way.

A few months ago, I decided I wanted to learn music theory so that I could mix music on my computer. I did violin lessons as a kid and was kicked out and still remember the teacher giving me a lecture to either come to class prepared, ready and willing to learn or not bother coming. He told my mom I wasn’t “mature” enough to handle music lesson. Mom didn’t know then I had ADHD.

Fast forward 7 years and back to this comment last week from my new Piano teacher.  This time around it was MY idea to take music lessons and it is something I desperately want to learn. I’m engaged, interested and my brain focuses perfectly on every word the teacher says.  I’m excited and I’m learning. And the teacher likes me.

Maybe your school would be open to what you want to learn, too.

The trick I’m finding is for me to find a way to learn things when I’m ready. Another example of this is last Spring. I did an entire required Grade 10 one-year course over 2 weekends.  I had just learned I had the option to do it online instead of having to sit in class for an entire year and said “bring it on!”   Having that control over what I do and what I am interested in really helps.

Like this website. I proposed we throw out the curriculum that was like 10 years old for grade 10 Tech and that I build a web site instead — complete with a blog, mailing list and social media.  That teacher instead of being angry that I dissed his course was amused and played along and guess what?  I got 97% in his class.

Hacking your ADHD brain

Bottom line, ADHD brains do great when it’s something we are interested in. We are not being a brat or picky or bad, it’s just how we are wired.

See if you can get some support from your school and family and use those ADHD powers for good. Find things that you love to do and the learning becomes easy and awesome.

– Jeff

Ps. CHADD nailed it in this tweet:

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