So, what is this all about? Basically, in school, bright students often struggle. This is often because of weak or immature executive functions (EFs).
EFs are often described as the air traffic control centre of the brain. Residing in the prefrontal cortex, EF skills such as attention, flexibility, or time management are responsible for managing all areas of daily life – from work, to school, to home. We rely on these skills every day, and yet we rarely hear about them at school.
Activated Learning teachers do one simple thing: TALK to students about their learning. Several times a day, when students are struggling, we stop the whole class to reflect and strategize. “What is standing in our way right now? How can we overcome these obstacles?” We facilitate these conversations regularly, in the midst of core academic learning experiences to harness the power of inquiry, autonomy, relatedness, peer influence, high dosage, and context-relevance. In our EF-literate communities, the conversations are extra powerful.
We work with students to learn effective strategies, but even more importantly we help students build the habit of thinking strategically. Fixed mindsets, helplessness, and hopelessness simply have no chance in a classroom focused on self-understanding, self-compassion, resilience, and solving problems together.