Mrs Peachtree

Is there a job where I can get paid to read?

Back to School September 5, 2008

Filed under: ADHD,School — Mrs. Peachtree @ 11:46 am

It’s that time again. It’s time to go back to school. For me this means back to my university courses as well as back to work since I work at a school. I always feel like it’s the new year in September more than I do in January. There are fresh notebooks, newly sharpened pencils, brand new textbooks, a new schedule, and the potential for a whole new routine.

I always make promises to myself that this year everything is going to be organized, on time, and easy and every year it all goes crazy and I end up feeling like I’ve failed. When I look back on my journals they are filled with resolutions and they are always the same ones. I will begin working on my assignments well in advance. I will do all of my course readings and take meticulous notes before and during each class. I will hand in my assignments on time. I will study for all my tests and exams. I will get As in all my classes. Now that I’m aware that there is an actual neurological problem that is sabotaging all my well-meaning efforts I don’t feel quite so bad about writing the essay at the last minute, asking for an extension on an assignment, or the fact that my desk/knapsack/office frequently look like something has exploded. I am starting to accept that because of the ADHD I will not be able to achieve all of those lofty goals. A really great result of learning about ADHD, however, has been that I have found out that I am capable of achieving those goals, and that it just requires a lot more planning for me than the average person!

Last school year I actually did achieve an A+ and an A along with my Bs. I have accomodations at school which allow me to ask for an extension if I need it and to write all of my tests and exams on a computer with 50% more time. All of my professors receive letters explaining my “special needs” status and so I am no longer intimidated by going to them to discuss the problems I am having in writing a particular assignment and I no longer feel that they secretly think I’m lazy and don’t want to succeed or do any work in their class. My work spaces still do frequently look like a bomb has gone off but all of my important dates and details are recorded diligently into a moleskine agenda and since I started taking my class notes on the computer not only are they much more complete and coherent than before, other students are actually asking me if they can borrow my notes!

Finally, another added benefit of learning about ADHD has led me to reassess my career goals. When I originally went to university I was in the concurrent education program where I was working on a degree in French and a teacher’s certificate concurrently. I had excellent marks in the teacher’s ed. portion of my degree but when I dropped out of university and then later reapplied I did not reenter the teacher’s ed. part of my degree. I had decided that I would much rather work in a library. Lately, however, though I still love books, reading and the library, I have been considering applying to teacher’s college next year when I have completed my undergraduate degree. Not only do I keep ending up in jobs where I am working directly with children and youth, I have found that in the past few years I have been able to understand and work with students who have learning disabilities or behavioural issues much more effectively than in the past. Rather than be irritated by a boy who continually disrupts the group and seems to blurt out insults to his fellow participants without thinking I find myself wondering whether this is something he has any control over at all and finding alternative ways to redirect his energy and attention rather than repeatedly telling him to please be quiet or sit still. I think that as a teacher with ADHD I would have many tools to work with this type of student that others may not have without much education and mountains of understanding and patience. I only wish now that at some point in my childhood someone had recognized me as having this disorder instead of labeling me lazy or disorganized or just plain dumb!

Now I must get to work. I think my desk could use some tidying and my Old English text isn’t going to read itself…


Glad to be home December 31, 2007

I’m sooooo glad to be home! My husband and I spent a week at his parents’ house for Christmas and believe it or not, this is the first year in my entire life that I haven’t gone home at Christmas. While I was at the in-laws’ in the States I spent my time reading my first book for the Canadian Book Challenge. I think it’s absolutely amazing that I still love L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables just as much now as I did as a little girl. I think it’s the nostalgic quality that gets me, but I can’t really put my finger on it. I was a bit surprised at the racism and classism (is that a word?) at the very beginning of the book but the rest of the story completely eclipses those elements in the end. Montgomery’s description of the nature surrounding Green Gables reminds me of my own farm upbringing and all of the time I used to spend exploring the ravine behind my house. I think the most striking thing about the story though, is that now that I know about ADHD I think that Anne has it! I realize that a character in a book can’t have a neuro-chemical disorder unless the author says so but Anne’s dreaminess, imagination, and multiple scrapes are exactly how I was as a child! Maybe that’s why she’s so loveable…because she is so flawed. In any case it’s a good thing that Montgomery wrote several Anne books because I just want to keep reading about Anne. Whether or not I have time to do that with five English courses on the go is another matter altogether!


Baby Steps December 13, 2007

Filed under: ADHD,Canadian Children's Literature,Knitting,School — Mrs. Peachtree @ 10:35 am

I’m supposed to be working on two essays and an assignment. What am I doing? I’m looking up knitting patterns and researching Canadian children’s literature. I’m finished my exams for the term and now I have all kinds of time on my hands before I have to run my after-school program. One thing I’ve learned about managing my ADHD is that I have to have structure. The busier I am, the more likely I am to get things done. I suppose it’s because when I have all kinds of time open I end up saying “oh well, I can just do it later or tomorrow, or whenever…I’ve got lots of time!”. When I’m super-busy and I know that I only have a one hour block of time in which to do a reading or work on a piece of writing then I get it done because there is no room for procrastination. That’s not to say that I never procrastinate when I’m busy, in fact I do it quite frequently, but when I’m on the ball I can organize my time better when I’m busy. I need to be more careful about giving myself deadlines and not to let my professors give me “open” due dates when I get an extension on an assignment because I just drag it out forever. I should be on vacation from school at this point and instead I’ve got all these papers hanging over my head. One of the papers I need to write is only three pages long and I have done way too much research already. I’ve psyched myself out on writing it way too many times now because I can’t seem to focus my thoughts into just three pages! I will write it today. That is what I will do today. Baby steps right?


What would you attempt if you knew you would not fail? December 1, 2007

Filed under: ADHD,Sunday Scribbling — Mrs. Peachtree @ 9:47 pm

This was the very first challenge on the Sunday Scribblings blog and it also happens to be the one that inspired me to begin. If I knew I would not fail I would write. Yes, I know, I write all the time as a student but I’m talking about really writing, as in authorship.

Ever since I was a little girl I have harboured a secret desire to be an author. I have piles of old notebooks and pieces of paper filled with characters that I created, floor plans (because how am I supposed to write a great story about a bunch of girls if I don’t know what their bedrooms look like?!), and the beginnings of novels, usually about twelve-year-old girls. I also have journals going back to grade five or so. Nothing ever got finished though, and I’ve found that over the years my writing really tapered off.

I got scared. Teachers in elementary and secondary school started putting negative comments like “Rebecca doesn’t apply herself”, “bright but lazy” and “I know you are capable of so much more” on my report cards. I started getting this paralyzing fear of failing in my schoolwork and the solution was to just not hand anything in at all rather than risk handing something in and receiving a less than stellar mark. (Yes, I am aware that this is not logical, and I have been working hard to get over this!)

As it turns out, the comments on the report card and the inability to finish things (or even get started in some cases) stems from the fact that I have ADHD. In the past few months I have started treatment and I am beginning to face things that have seemed impossibly scary in the past. One of these things is writing. So here I am. Writing. I will attempt to keep writing, even if it’s only to complete the Sunday Scribbling challenge each week.