Empowering Voices: Student-Centered Approaches to Executive Function and Equity

Empowering Voices: Student-Centered Approaches to Executive Function and Equity

In today’s diverse classrooms, fostering equity and inclusivity is paramount. One powerful way to achieve this is through student-centered approaches to executive function development. By empowering students to take an active role in their own learning and executive function strategies, educators can create a more equitable learning environment where all students have the opportunity to succeed.

Understanding Executive Function Variability

One key aspect of student-centered approaches is recognizing that executive function is not one-size-fits-all. Just as students have different learning styles and strengths, they also have varying executive function needs. By involving students in the process, educators can tailor strategies to meet individual needs, ensuring that no student is left behind.

Promoting Self-Awareness

Empowering students to develop self-awareness of their executive function strengths and challenges is essential. Reflection activities, such as self-assessments, goal-setting exercises, and reflective journaling, can help students understand their unique executive function skills and advocate for themselves. This fosters a greater sense of agency and control over their learning.

Explicit Executive Function Strategy Instruction

Another crucial element of student-centered approaches is providing students with a toolbox of strategies for managing their executive function. By explicitly teaching executive function strategies, we can help students navigate such hidden curriculum areas as how to take notes, how to study, and how to ask a teacher or professor for help. Executive function, encompassing skills like organization, inhibition, remembering, and goal-setting, plays a crucial role in academic success.

Fostering Collaboration and Communication

Student-centered approaches emphasize collaboration and communication. Educators can work with students to create personalized plans for executive function development, incorporating input from both students and teachers. This collaborative approach ensures that students feel heard and valued, leading to greater engagement and motivation.

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About the Author

Caitlin Vanderberg, Ed.M., is a SMARTS Associate and an Educational Specialist. She leads the development and piloting of the MetaCOG Surveys & Toolkit and provides academic support to elementary and middle school students with learning, attention, and executive function challenges. Before joining ResearchILD in 2020, Caitlin worked as an assistant elementary school teacher and with many arts education programs. Caitlin holds an Ed.M. in Mind, Brain, and Education from Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

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