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Motivation Quick Tip Student Perspective

Student Perspective: School is Starting, Please Send Help!

This student-authored post is part of a series that highlights student perspectives around learning and executive function in the classroom.

Many students, myself included, are facing increased stress as the school year begins. Even before school starts, students are already stressed with summer work.

More Work, Less Choice

Every year it seems that the work assigned in the summer has grown in quantity. When I was younger, we were told the goal of summer work was just to encourage us to read. But in high school, there is more work and fewer choices.

Stressful Timing

Summer school work poses an issue as I try to balance my summer activities with this work. The school intends for summer work to be done slowly throughout the whole summer. However, being tested on most of this work makes it even worse, because I have to do it in the last two or three weeks of summer, so I don’t forget the content. This leaves me stressed about the tests I will have on the first or second day of classes.

0 to 100!

It’s standard for the first couple weeks of school to be stressful; getting used to a school schedule again and seeing people I haven’t seen for three months are just a few of the stressors. Coming back to school feels like being dropped into a new environment. I like to think of it like a fish being dropped in cold water. Usually, you raise and lower the temperature of fish tanks slowly, so the fish isn’t shocked by the temperature change. But going back to school is an abrupt change, and it is overwhelming.

I’ve only explained a few reasons why going back to school can be so stressful for students. It is important that teachers, parents, and anyone supporting a high schooler be aware of students’ emotions and heightened anxiety during this time.

  • C. Solomon, Student Contributor

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

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ADHD Dyslexia Learning Differences Student Perspective

Fixing a Broken Model, Part 2

This student-authored post is part of a series that highlights student perspectives around learning and executive function in the classroom. You can read part 1 of this post here

An article written in the National Library of Medicine says that when dyslexic students are misunderstood, it “leads to a struggle with the teacher, with the parents and with themselves. The result can be a child deemed to be ‘incorrigible,’ a judgment which can further traumatize the individual.” As a student, I’ve always been annoyed by these misconceptions. Throughout my education, my annoyance led to frustration, my frustration led to anger, and my anger led to despair.

A Broken Model

The current educational system is not working, as it is not acknowledging everybody’s differences. The education system needs to be modernized; schools have been using the same model for decades. Most traditional school practices are outdated, not preparing students for modern life. In the words of Sir Kenneth Robinson, an educator known for working to revitalize the education system, “reforming is no use anymore, because that is simply reforming a broken model.”

Solutions

Schools need to work with their students to foster individualism. They need to create a place where students are able to explore what they want to learn in a way that they can learn it. Everybody has different strengths and weaknesses, so why are we torturing people by penalizing them for having weaknesses?

One of the easiest ways teachers can create a productive classroom environment is to engage with students and ask them how they feel. Making sure students feel comfortable interacting with their teacher and advocating for themselves is crucial. But it’s even more important that the teacher uses that information to help a student. If a student is struggling and has a solution, their teachers need to do everything in their power to make sure the student gets what they need.

A Path Forward

It’s becoming accepted that teachers must address all differences to create an optimal classroom environment. To truly welcome diversity, schools must accept diversity of thought. The goal of educational systems should be to create a world where students’ differences aren’t stigmatized but accepted; where it’s understood that everybody’s brain is just as unique as their physical appearance. We all have two eyes, two ears, one nose, and one mouth—and we look unique.

To truly create change, schools need to acknowledge their shortcomings and try to fix them by listening to student voices. By doing this, schools can help students’ individuality become their strength.

  • C. Solomon, Student Contributor

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Categories
ADHD Dyslexia Student Perspective

Fixing a Broken Model, Part 1

This student-authored post is part of a series that highlights student perspectives around learning and executive function in the classroom. 

The majority of people have a physical appearance that is unique. Yet on an anatomical level, the components of each face are the same. Your eyes, for example, are in the middle of your face, about a nose width long and a nose width apart. The distance from your chin to the middle of your lip is the same as the distance from the middle of your lip to the corner of your eye.

Yet it is the small differences that shape your likeness, making you unique. The human brain is the same — even though we’re all human, there are a variety of factors that make everyone’s brains different.

In school, people tend to be defined by a few characteristics, and as someone with dyslexia and ADHD, my differences have always seemed to define me. I feel these differences every day.

I started to feel the impact of my dyslexia in first grade, before I was even diagnosed. Like many students with learning differences, I was misunderstood at school, and similar situations led me to feel annoyed, confused, and fearful. All of these emotions came from the message that school was instilling in me, that something was wrong with me.

In my experience, schools ignore, suppress, and neglect the things that they don’t understand, and that leads to students being neglected. When teachers don’t work to understand their students’ differences and how they learn best, it can leave students with the belief that they are inadequate and they will ever be able to do what is expected of them. That mix of emotions can be excruciating.

Thirty-three percent of educators believe learning disabilities are just laziness. This harmful stereotype is a perfect example of how the education system needs to change. The bottom line is in order to create a healthy learning environment for students with learning disabilities, these students need to be fully understood and that starts with education. It starts with ending the belief that learning disabilities are laziness or something that can be easily controlled.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this post. 

  • C. Solomon, Student Contributor

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Categories
Recommendations Self-Checking Self-Monitoring Student Perspective

Students Speak: What Is Self-Monitoring and Self-Checking?

What exactly does it mean to monitor and check our work? Self-monitoring and self-checking are two executive function areas that are often overlooked and not explicitly taught. In the SMARTS curriculum, these areas are clearly defined and modeled for students.

  • Self-monitoring is an ongoing process of noticing what one is doing.
  • Self-checking is the process of finding and correcting mistakes in one’s work.

What do students think about self-monitoring and self-checking? Throughout ResearchILD’s Student Ambassador Program this fall, students were encouraged to collectively think about their thinking and how executive function processes impact their day-to-day experiences in school and at home. Here are some of their ideas about what self-monitoring and self-checking mean to them:

Students Speak: What do self-monitoring and self-checking mean to you?

  • “Checking my language and tone while speaking with various people/making sure I recall certain facts.”
  • “Correcting and checking your own work.”
  • “Self monitoring and self checking is how to act in different environments.”
  • “Self-monitoring means having the ability to change how you act in different places or situations. Self-checking means the ability to make a list to keep you organized for whatever activity you are doing.”

Students Speak: What is one way that you monitor your progress or self-check?

  • “I look back on myself and my actions and try to think if they were smart or not.”
  • “I make a list.”
  • “Plan ahead and adjust accordingly by making mental checks to complete each day.”
  • “One way that I monitor my own progress or self-check is by saying to myself what I have to do for the activity I am doing.”

How to Encourage Students to Self-Monitor and Self-Check

Students struggle with self-monitoring when they don’t check what they are doing and have trouble setting goals for themselves. Strategies that improve self-awareness can help strengthen students’ ability to self-monitor and refocus.

  • Be clear about which materials students need to bring to and from school.
  • Set aside time for self-checking at the start and end of the school day and after students complete assignments.
  • Utilize theater games and literacy activities, such as Reader’s Theater, to help students monitor their tone, voice, and actions. 
  • Attend our free webinar on May 10: Executive Function and Self-Checking: Helping Students Learn from Their Mistakes. Learn more and register
  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Categories
Cognitive Flexibility Remote Learning Student Perspective

Students Speak: What is Cognitive Flexibility? 

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been asked to adapt, adjust, think flexibly, shift perspectives — in short, practice cognitive flexibility. Whether we’re balancing the shift between in-person and remote learning, working on a group project, or even cooking a meal, cognitive flexibility is key to success.

What do students think about cognitive flexibility? Throughout ResearchILD’s Student Ambassador Program this fall, students were encouraged to collectively think about their thinking and how executive function processes impact their day-to-day experiences in school and at home. Here are some of their ideas about what cognitive flexibility means to them:

Students Speak: What does cognitive flexibility mean to you?

  • “Coming up with a different way to solve a problem.” 
  • “Ways to adjust to unexpected events.”
  • “For me, cognitive flexibility is the ability to adapt to new situations and accept changes in my life, big or small.”
  • “Cognitive flexibility is the ability to adapt from one scenario to another.”
  • “Cognitive flexibility means to me that my mind can think of more than one way of doing something.”

Students Speak: What do you do when you get stuck and have to shift?

  • “When I get stuck I generally move onto a different thing. Some time away from the topic helps me think of different ideas.”
  • “I usually get stuck for a little while and keep doing the same thing. Then I try a new way. When I figure out the correct way, it’s like a light bulb lights up.”
  • “I step back and come back to it later.”
  • “Re-read or re-assess the problem.”
  • “I either try a new strategy, make a connection, or ask for help.”

How to Get Students Thinking Flexibly

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

Build Your Executive Function Toolkit in 2022

Are you interested in building your Executive Function Toolkit? Join us in February and March to hear from EF experts on topics such as metacognition and motivation, strategies to support students with long-term projects and project-based learning, embedding EF in the general education curriculum, and the intersection of EF and social-emotional learning. Learn more and register today

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

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Multisensory Learning Student Perspective

Student Perspective: Multisensory Learning

What are the benefits of teaching with multisensory activities? This student-authored post is part of a series that highlights student perspectives around learning and executive function in the classroom. 

One of the best ways you can engage your students with learning differences is by using multisensory practices.

What is Multisensory Learning?

Multisensory learning occurs when a student uses multiple senses to learn information. The goal of multisensory learning is to allow your students to connect to the material being taught in many different ways. Students with and without learning differences can benefit from a multisensory approach since it allows students to make new connections and strengthen memories.

Engaging through Multisensory Activities

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that teachers use the same multisensory techniques from first grade through high school, but it is important for teachers to adapt their multisensory practices to better serve older students.  

For instance, watching videos in class is a multisensory activity. In biology class, dissecting an animal is multisensory because it allows the students to see and touch the parts of the animal that are being studied. Science is a great subject for multisensory teaching because many experiments are naturally multisensory — a great reason to increase the number of hands-on experiments in science. 

One multisensory activity for English and history classes is acting out scenes of a book or scenes from history. This allows students to immerse themselves in the time or book, helping them learn by interacting with the text in another way. 

Students will learn best if you try to integrate different multisensory activities, instead of relying only on traditional teaching practices like lecturing. There are many different ways that you can approach multisensory teaching. It can be helpful to experiment and think of new multisensory activities that fit with what you are teaching.

Join us this November for the 36th Annual Executive Function Conference, which will focus on promoting resilience and equity for ALL students.

  • C. Solomon, Student Contributor

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org