Amanda Hubbal is a nursery teacher in the UK. She uses research-based practice to provide inclusive and engaging nursery teaching.
After being asked several times by parents about ADHD symptoms and behaviours, she decided to take the ‘Understanding ADHD: Current Research and Practice’ course from King’s College London on the FutureLearn Platform.
Using FutureLearn to explore new topics
Amanda teaches 3 and 4-year-olds at a standalone state nursery school. She settled on early years teaching when she realised the difference she could make in children’s lives at this point.
“I believe early years education is the foundation for all learning. To me it felt like the point where I could have the most impact as nursery age children are so curious and open to new things.”
It was Amanda’s desire to provide better, more inclusive teaching to young children displaying behaviours associated with ADHD that motivated her to look for a course on the topic.
“I have always been interested in child behaviour and the associated neuroscience. ADHD was of particular interest as I have seen time and again, children go on to get a diagnosis two years or so after leaving nursery. This led me to believe that children could benefit from ADHD intervention and support at an earlier stage in their development.
Furthermore, I have found that as stigma around the disorder has broken down and awareness has increased, it is something parents are increasingly keen to talk to me about. I felt it was important for me to be informed so I could better field these questions.”
A credible teaching course
Amanda was specifically drawn to the scientific, ‘current research and practice’ element of the course.
“At my nursery school we are passionate about research-led best practice and I feel it is important not to exist in a bubble, but to be acutely aware of what is going on globally in the education/ development sector. I want my teaching to be constantly informed by up to date information and research.”
Amanda was keen to learn about the myths around ADHD and debunk stereotypes around the disorder.
“There are so many misconceptions around ADHD, many of which I held myself. One of the most common is the ‘naughty boy syndrome’. This is where children displaying signs of inattentive or hyperactive attention disorders are dismissed as unruly – this is particularly common among boys.
Another misconception is that when children are struggling in the classroom this is often attributed to lack of parental support – when in fact there are actual physical brain abnormalities which affect how the brain functions and learns in those with ADHD.”
FutureLearn lets you upskill
Amanda is grateful for platforms like FutureLearn which offer teachers additional resources they can use to improve their teaching skills.
“It is unfortunate that training on specific disorders like ADHD is not something that is immediately available as part of our CPD, it is something that you have to proactively seek out.”
Amanda feels that what she learnt on the course has had a dramatic impact on her teaching style and her ability to meet the needs of her ADHD pupils.
“One of my key takeaways from the FutureLearn course was the brain scan comparisons where you can clearly see that certain areas of the brain are bigger/ smaller/ more or less active in those with ADHD. It has been important for me to keep this in mind when dealing with ADHD students as these differences create a specific set of needs, and conflict in the classroom often results from when these needs aren’t being met.
I believe that courses such as the ‘Understanding ADHD’ course from King’s College London should be a compulsory component of teacher training as while the course was not time-consuming or intensive, it transformed the way I think and feel about ADHD in the classroom.”