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Executive Functioning - How do I Function?

by Social Studies Teacher Erin Moore

Executive Functioning is the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. It goes along with self-regulation and understanding how one can best support their own learning. This year, my goal is to start introducing the concept of executive functioning and work with students to identify and understand their strengths and areas of growth and why identifying them is beneficial. 

The process started with a survey where students were asked to rank how often they exhibited certain behaviors. We then broke down each category and their definitions. The categories were: response inhibition, working memory, emotional control, flexibility, sustained attention, task initiation, planning/prioritizing, organization, time management, goal directed persistence and metacognition. After answering each set of questions, the students tallied their scores and saw which area or areas had the highest and lowest number. It was interesting to see how well the students know themselves.

The next step is to have students meet with others in the class that also have the same strengths or areas of growth and as a group review and create strategies to help them with both areas. It is my hope that in doing this, students grow in confidence, resilience, stress management, and academic success.

This week I am attending a conference on executive functioning. I look forward to learning more about how I can foster students' development in this area. It is my hope that in doing so, students learn more about themselves, which will help their adaptability and being aware of their own emotions as well as those of others. The goal is to create an environment where children are given the scaffolding to help them practice necessary skills before they must perform them alone.