All educators play a crucial role in counteracting systemic racism and developing equitable approaches that support the success of every student. Our Executive Function (EF) and Equity Fellowship brings together six educators from across the US to explore how schools are addressing students’ executive function needs through an equity lens. This post, part two of a series, highlights the lessons that emerged from conversations with our 2020-2021 EF and Equity Fellows and guest speakers.
Culture, Language, and Learning
Students bring their whole selves to school each day, making their academic lives inextricably linked with their home lives and cultural identities. For our November 2020 EF and Equity Fellow gathering, two educators from the Arapahoe Schools in Wyoming—Dr. Julie Jarvis, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, and Veronica Miller, Instructional Facilitator— shared how they respond to students’ needs with executive function in mind.
At the Arapahoe Schools, language and culture preservation are priorities. It is vital that educators are aware of and sensitive to the historical trauma and language erasure that the Northern Arapaho tribe has faced.
A core principle of the Arapahoe Schools is a native language immersion program. Through this program, native Arapaho language speakers teach students how to code switch and how to exist in two communities–inside and outside the bounds of the reservation.
When it comes to language learning and code switching, cognitive flexibility is key. Students must not only switch between the Arapaho language and English, but they must understand the different contexts in which to use their languages.
Dr. Jarvis described that the Arapahoe schools use trauma-informed strategies to support students’ academic and emotional needs. When students’ “fight-or-flight” responses are activated, their ability to fully engage in learning and social activities is hindered.
Executive function strategies, explained Dr. Jarvis, can help students be mindful and remain present. Making mindfulness a priority for students can ensure that they learn to engage with their emotions and build self-compassion in difficult moments.
EF and Equity
Are you interested in applying to be a 2021-2022 EF and Equity Fellow? Learn more about the fellowship and application process. If you would like to hear more from Julie Jarvis, Veronica Miller, and other equity-minded educators, you can hear them speak on a panel about “Executive Function and Equity in Schools: Success Stories from Administrators and Teachers” at the 36th Annual Executive Function Conference.
Looking to build your executive function toolkit? Join us for the Executive Function Summer Summit (July 27th, July 29th, August 3rd, and August 5th) and the SMARTS Executive Function Summer Workshop (August 10th, August 12th, August 17th, and August 19th). All summer professional development opportunities are available online via Zoom and through recorded sessions.
- Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Program Associate
SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org
Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org
The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org