Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Learning Continues, Even During Thanksgiving

My son Andrew, age 17, was home from school for eight days for Thanksgiving. This was a wonderful week. Andrew played with his longtime best buddy. He slept late. He enjoyed watching sports events and playing electronic games. He enjoyed visiting with various cousins for four days. We greeted at church. We caught up on his thoughts. He (and I) ate lots of goodies. And he had to prepare a two-page editorial commentary on a current news event. It dampened the holiday a little, but learning never ends.

When we think back on the most positive experiences in life, there are always the great teachers. When we think about the most miserable experiences that we survived, for many of us there are teachers. This is so evident and important that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) operates a program titled, Parents and Teachers as Allies (PTasA). CHADD is in the process of translating our successful Educators' Manual on AD/HD into a six-hour, three-component in-service training program for teachers. A team of volunteers developed the manual and is developing the in-service program. Charitable organizations are so fortunate to have volunteers contributing their passion and knowledge without pay. We will be field testing the in-service program during 2008 and will officially launch it at our next annual conference, to be held in Anaheim, November 13-15, 2008.

Two weeks ago we held our annual conference outside Washington, DC, with 1,600 total attendees. We took roughly 600 attendees to Capitol Hill to meet with their members of Congress and they focused on the reality of living with AD/HD. We sold out our 20th anniversary gala dinner at 680 people; the event featured James Carville speaking about the need for a truly individualized education that respects the learning needs and style of every child, and talking about his AD/HD and his daughter's AD/HD. Saturday sessions focused on the needs of teachers to be successful in the classroom: “Behavioral Strategies for the Classroom,” “Using Evidence-Based Strategies to Teach the Student with AD/HD and Learning Disabilities,” “Teens Talk: A Training Program for Middle and High School Teachers,” and “Family-School Success,” among others. During the closing plenary session, Bob Brooks, PhD, spoke on “Discarding Myths, Nurturing Resilience” through a strengths-based approach to raising and educating children. Bob is always a wonderfully inspiring speaker. I told him in a thank-you note that I wish every teacher in America could hear his presentation and be personally tutored by him. Staying focused on what each child does well really builds self-esteem.

I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving. I did.


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