Hi there within one of my classess I have a young girl with Bipolar disorder which I find somewhat challenging at times, and the extent of her learning really depends on her condition, I just wondered if anyone else has students with Bipolar or any other condition or disorder, how you deal with it but also how you ensure keeping the lesson inclusive?

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Hi Tracy,

That's a tricky one for you to handle! There was a student in a class that I helped with last year with mental health issues who could be very difficult at times. The teacher was always patient and considerate with this student. The student was often disruptive. I think I would ask the advice of a more experienced member of staff.

Hi Teresa,
Yes patience is definitely a skill, I sometimes feel that I am more patient with her than any other and sometimes worry that other learners may well feel that there is a favouritism towards her, so must remember a balance.
Many thanks for your comments
T x

Hi Tracy

I do not have any students with Bipolar in any of my lessons but i frequently have to take students with dyslexia and dispraxia into account when planning sessions. To ensure my lessons remain inclusive at all times i always obtain a group profile if i can to give myself proir warning of any additional needs from any of the learners. I may print handouts on coloured paper, provide additional notes and handouts for students unable to take down notes at the same time as listening or ensure the particular student in question is sitting in an appropriate area of the classroom, where the overhead projector and white board are easily visable.  I have found the colour of the board pen quite important for ease of reading for some students but this varies from learner to learner.  Lastly it is important the learner is aware of all the support and help networks available to them if they are suffering from any learning difficulties, as teachers we cannot help students that do not wish to be helped.


Hope some of this helps, Laura.

Hi Laura,
Yes I am concerned with making sure all my learners feel included, and as mentioned to Teresa, get worried about other learners feeling that there is a favourite within the group.
However I do like your suggestion re more handouts, they are always on hand, extras, but maybe I could place more emphasis that they are there if they are needed, or maybe emailed to them via the student link, whilst the other learners are aware of her condition, it would not be made obvious that this is in place solely for her, therefore promoting inclusion as everyone will have access, if that makes sense?
Again thank you for your comments
T x

Hi Tracy,

that's tricky. The first thing, it's not all on you. There should be qualified professionals involved who know the details in depth who can help.  I found a very moving account of a student at Oxford who is bipolar telling of her experiences of how her tutors have reacted. You might find it interesting  http://oxfordstudent.com/2011/01/27/coping-with-being-bipolar/

Best wishes,


Hi Jax,
Many thanks for your comment and for the link I will have a closer look at this, as you suggested should find it very interesting, the more knowledge I have of the condition (especially from the insider, so to speak ) and how to best deal with it, the better prepared I will be into to handling things correctly and more effectively.
Many thanks again for your comments
T x
Hi Tracy, you seem to have received some good and sensible comments here and doing your best to be prepared for future issues is very good practice too. It's such a difficult condition to live with and your student has done really well to get themselves registered at college and get themselves to show up to classes. The support of informed professionals is the key thing to set up and remember that it is probably all new to her as well. I do hope everything works out well for all involved, including you!
Hi Tracey,

This is a tough one. I have worked with students that had depression and ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder), which made it hard to include them when they were having a bad day. Patience is vital, as is making it clear to your student that she can communicate to you if she is having a bad day, which will help give you an indication of what she will be likely to achieve, and will probably make her feel more accepted and included. In the case of the students I worked with, it was about differentiation. They were not expected to achieve on the same level as the others in the group, but they were by no means excluded - they just had a more manageable set of personal targets to achieve in the lesson instead. This meant that they had a sense of worth and achievement, which helped their sense of self worth. If they could see they were achieving without the pressure of keeping up with the group, this helped to motivate them.

With Bipolar, there is also the days were focusing will be difficult, and even days when in an upswing, behaviour maybe hard to control. I think it's a good idea to have some sort of professional contact, as then you have support and can ask for coping strategies to try with your student. It is always good to ask the student though, as this gives them a sense of control over their situation too, and using something like an individual learning plan (ILP) that outlines targets and a set of agreed strategies between you and the student as a way of officially recording is always a good idea.

Hope that helps?!
Hi Lucy,
I am lucky that with my learner I have not had a bad day yet, however I wanted to be more prepared for when it does happen.
I think as you suggest an informal conversation on how it effects her on a good and bad day would be very helpful, to both myself and my learner, Jax above has given me a link from a learner who has bi polar and learning experiences which will also be very helpful. As inclusive learning is always at the forefront of my mind, having that clear strategies in place will definitely help.
Many thanks for your comment and suggestions.
T x

Hi Tracy, I haven't experienced teaching a student with bipolar but I knew someone who had it. Lucy is right it would be best to have contact with a professional such as a previous teacher they've had if you can and their parents. The student may have regular changes in medication and therefore may struggle with this. This could affect their thinking, memory and  attention span so I guess it's a case of being prepared and like Lucy says to be patient as you can. The student may act out but it is unlikely to be aimed at you personally!! As long as the student is treated the same as the other students ( this ties in with equality and diversity). As you know students should be treated equally and fairly so everyone can join in, and shouldn't be discriminated for their disability. So as long as you try your best to be as understanding as possible and help them integrate with the group as much as possible that's all you can do. Challenging as it is but if you can cope/work with someone who has a mental disorder it will put you in good stead for teaching in the future. 

Hi Melissa,
I will definitely be seeking a professional out to help me understand more as I feel that is a key point, in being able to help my learner reach her full potential, regardless of having a good or bad day!
Medication changes again is something I had not previous thought about, so that is a great suggestion thank you. And of course I would never want the learner to feel singled out only ever to be fully included, with the other suggestions that have been suggested, I am feeling more confident that, I will be able to help my learner reach her full potential, placing aside her condition and for any future learner with the same condition.
Again thank you for your comment and suggestions
T x

Hi Tracy


I think the more help you can draw from the learning support network available to yourself and the students within the educational establishment that you work, i see no reason why your sessions would not remain inclusive.  Tutorials and individual learning plans should also be a good tool to help recognise thoses little extras that could be done for your student to help further enrich their learning experiences.


Good Luck, Laura



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