Thursday, May 26, 2016

Executive Functioning Skills

Executive Functioning Skills
by: Katie Winstead

A couple years ago I participated in an Executive Functioning Skills workshop that discussed interventions and tips that can be done at home and at school to help students. In this workshop we discussed some essential things that I think could benefit us all to know.

What are executive functioning skills? To put it simply, executive functioning skills are things like organization, time management, etc. It is the ability to manage what is around you in order to achieve a goal.

  • Managing time in the morning to brush your teeth, get dressed, eat breakfast and get school things ready in order to make the bus on time.
  • Planning out what you need to do a research project and how it will look before you start.
  • Planning what to pack before going on a trip.
How it affects learning and daily life:
  • Initiating tasks
  • Keeping track of time
  • Finishing work on time
  • Asking for help
  • Being organized

When you think about it, we use skills like these every day in our lives: as learners, workers and members of the community. The skill of keeping track of time is necessary in school when you have 10 minutes to finish an activity before lunch, at a job when your boss says something is due by the end of the day, or in daily life when you only have so much time to run an errand.

As a special education teacher, I work with students on these skills when students have major deficits that impact their learning and future goals. At Elk Grove High School, we even have an Executive Functioning class for our students in special education to help prepare them for life and what's to come. But is it just those students who really need the help?

This past Monday at our Elk Grove Lead Learners meeting, the English department started to talk about a variety of students who were struggling to organize and time-manage their school work and lives. We realized that from instructional to AP classrooms, students across the board were not being explicitly taught these executive functioning skills which was greatly impacting their academics as well as their ability to manage activities outside of school (jobs, clubs, activities, sports, relationships).

As a school, we have helped our students in special education as well as the Freshman class during Freshman First Days. Our thought: how do we continue to help students, especially those that are overbooked with classes and activities?

A little more about Executive Functioning Skills:

Graphic of 8 Key Executive Functions

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