Successful learners are self-aware and strategic. To understand oneself as a learner, a basic literacy in executive functioning is essential. Below, you will find everything needed to host three staff meetings worth of EF learning.
Meeting 1: How Executive Functions Impact Performance
In this one-hour meeting, do some critical viewing with your school team. Watch the following short videos, pausing for discussion in between each one. Remember that there are many different scholars studying EFs and that these videos are just the tip of the iceberg. That’s all. Nice and easy.
A 6 min basic primer from Harvard
A 3 min discussion about EFs at school and the link to ADD/ADHD
A 5 min discussion that describes the difference between EF and IQ, and gives examples of student behaviour
A cute 3 min animation that reinforces the basics
Meeting 2: Building Cognitive Literacy and True Self-Awareness
It can be hard for teachers to believe that the unexpected performance they observe from students is truly related to natural and normal variation in their executive functioning. Most people believe that children demonstrate poor attention, flexibility, or organization, for example, because of naughtiness or laziness.
Here’s an activity that can help: Print this self-evaluation checklist and get your staff to complete it in a meeting. Encourage teachers to discuss their results. Several important shifts will happen. Teachers will see that everyone really does have a different cognitive profile, and that this profile relates clearly to patterns of struggle and unexpected performance. Self-and other acceptance will grow among your staff, and it will be possible for teachers to truly understand and respond compassionately to the variation in student performance.
Meeting 3: Looking at Students Through an EF Lens
Now that your staff has the basics, take their expertise one step deeper into the classroom by thinking about how EFs impact specific students. Print and share this questionnaire, asking teachers to fill it in with a certain student in mind. This questionnaire works best for children over the age of 7, but teachers at any level will get the gist. As always, discuss, discuss, discuss!