The pandemic was a doozy for all our students, but it was a double whammy for students who struggle with executive functioning. Not only did they miss out on a huge chunk of time for developing and practicing appropriate social skills, but they also missed out on opportunities for learning and practicing the soft skills that are essential for success yet are so easily taken for granted.
Dr. Andrea Ogonosky’s new webinar training Tools to Teach Executive Functioning focuses on defining and illuminating the executive functioning skills needed for success in school. Most importantly, she identifies the foundational skills that are first needed to acquire the more advanced executive functioning skills that create success in academics and behavior. This webinar training isn’t just an abstract sit-and-get. Dr. Ogonosky provides simple, concrete strategies to teach these skills and helpful how-tos for inclusion in lessons and classroom activities.
Please remember that executive functioning skill deficits are not learning disabilities. Executive functions are the directive capacities that cue the use of other mental capacities. It is the brain’s ability to delegate work and complete tasks through planning, organizing, and executing. Executive functioning skill deficits manifest as difficulties in producing. These kids are not struggling with learning; they are struggling with showing their learning. This affects a lot of people, and it is a skill set that begins developing very early in childhood and takes 25 years to complete.
Executive functioning is comprised of two sets of skills that are necessary for success in school: foundational and advanced. Foundational skill acquirement should be the focus in elementary, and advanced skills can begin in middle school, but they most likely won’t be fully realized till well after high school. It is important to remember that all students benefit from this kind of instruction, support, and opportunities for practice, from Pre-K all the way through the 12th grade.
In this webinar training, Dr. Ogonosky fully explains the different foundational and advanced skills needed for successful executive functioning, and she shows how foundational skills like response inhibition, working memory, and emotional control in elementary school evolve into the advanced skills of planning, organization, time management, and goal directed persistence. For each of the critical foundational skills needed for executive functioning, Dr. Ogonosky provides concrete tips and strategies to literally teach each of these skills and support students as they practice them. Yes, students can learn how to control their emotional responses, adapt to a changing situation, and stay focused despite boredom, fatigue, or distractions. This absolutely can be done, and it should be done. Furthermore, the advanced skills—time management, planning, organization, the things that drive teachers bananas when students fail to demonstrate them—all rely on these foundational skills. You can’t multiply before you learn how to add.
These are things we can teach our kids, and we should be teaching them. Very few children walk into classrooms adept at meta cognition. Furthermore, many adults go their entire school career never receiving explicit instruction in any of these skills, and some go on to rely on others to help manage their time and organize their lives. This is not something for anyone to be ashamed of, but it is a reminder that we as educators can do better.
Education is as much about learning how to be your most successful, productive self as it is about memorizing facts, analyzing a text, or passing STAAR. We owe it to our kids to teach them how to be successful. And, frankly, teacher’s lives become so much easier for it. Students who are successful and productive academically are much better behaved (and happier!) than a kid who is learning but is unable to show what they are learning.
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