Monthly Archives: October 2019

3 Tips for Teaching Executive Function and Goal Setting in Schools

As the first quarter of the school year comes into sight, it’s a great time for teaching goal-setting strategies.

Promoting Growth Mindset

By now, students have received their first set of grades and progress reports, giving them some idea of their level of academic performance. By linking grades and progress reports to goal setting and self-reflection, teachers can promote a growth mindset in their students.

Those students whose grades are low are at risk for internalizing a sense of hopelessness; goal setting can help them create a proactive plan to do better. Students whose grades are high are at risk as well; if they are not engaged in reflection, they could easily fall into a fixed mindset, seeing their good grades as a result of being ‘smart’ rather than due to their effort and persistence.

Teaching goal-setting strategies using report cards and progress reports will engage students in the process of reflecting on their strengths and challenges, while creating a plan for how to improve in a way that is meaningful to them.

3 Tips for Goal-Setting Strategies

  • Make sure that students’ goals are appropriately challenging. No matter how successful a student has or hasn’t been, they should select a goal that is hard but not too hard. Encourage students to use “at least” language when they define goals. For example, a student could aim to get “at least a B- on all of my math tests” instead of aiming for “all A’s.” This leads to increased confidence and success.
  • Ensure that students’ goals are connected to their day-to-day lives. While being famous or rich are fine daydreams, they make poor, even dangerous, goals because they do not motivate students in their daily activities. Even if the goal relates to success as an actor, musician, or athlete, make sure that the student has developed ways to work on this goal now, and not in some distant future.
  • When teaching goal setting, address students’ fears directlyToo often students will say that they “don’t have any goals.” To me, this is a sign that the fear of failure prevents them from even naming their goals. Whether you use students’ fears to help set the goals or not, by normalizing this fear, you can help your students begin to create detailed goals and cope with strong feelings such as fear and worry.

Learn More

Follow these three tips and your students will be on the way to creating systematic goals that can guide them throughout the rest of the school year. And remember, it’s not too late for teachers to set their own goals for the year!

Looking to learn more? Check out our Goal Setting overview video, watch a recording of our “Executive Function and Goal Setting” webinar, or check out the SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum for strategies to use with your students.

Happy goal setting!

  • Michael Greschler, M.Ed., SMARTS Director

Meet Our New EF Conference Partner: Fusion Academy!

We are excited to announce that Fusion Academy is partnering with us to bring you ResearchILD’s 2019 Executive Function Conference.

Fusion Academy is a national network of schools that specialize in individualized, one-to-one learning. We love their commitment to mentoring and personalized instruction. From their website:

For students struggling in traditional schools, Fusion Academy’s personalized, one-to-one approach to education provides a life-changing middle and high school experience for your child.

Our teacher-mentors meet their students where they are and seek first to understand their unique strengths, interests, and learning style. Once trust is established, they are able to personalize course material and their teaching style so students truly master the subject matter. Students can move at their own pace, whether accelerated or with additional support in our one-to-one classrooms.

Fusion Academy representatives will be on-site at the conference to answer questions and share information about their Burlington and Newton campuses.

There’s still time to register for ResearchILD’s 2019 Executive Function Conference on Friday, October 25, 2019, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Burlington, MA. View the conference agenda and register today!

We look forward to seeing you there!

  • Elizabeth Ross, M.A., SMARTS Media Manager

EF Conference Speaker: Dr. Christopher Willard on Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the focus of ResearchILD’s 2019 Executive Function Conference, and we are excited to feature Christopher Willard, PsyD., psychologist and educational consultant specializing in mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a powerful and practical tool to use to empower students to engage with their emotions. All students may struggle with anxiety and emotional regulation when facing challenges in school. Students with learning and attention differences are especially at risk; struggles to maintain focus or sensory processing issues can have a toxic effect on a student’s emotional state. Their mental health and academic performance may suffer if they do not have tools to recognize and cope with powerful negative emotions through strategies that promote self-compassion and resilience.

Dr. Willard works with parents, educators, and counselors, teaching them to embody and teach mindfulness skills to promote resilience in students of any age. His presentations are filled with accessible exercises and ideas for how to adapt mindfulness for the individual needs of children and teens.

You can learn more about Dr. Willard from his interview on Full Pre Frontal Podcast and through his books, Growing Up Mindful: Essential Practices to Help Children, Teens, and Families Find Balance, Calm, and Resilience and Alphabreaths: The A, B, C’s of Mindful Breathing.

Take advantage of this opportunity to hear Dr. Willard speak at ResearchILD’s 10th Annual Executive Function Conference on Friday, October 25, 8:30 am-3:30 pm. Learn more and register today!

  • Elizabeth Ross, M.A., SMARTS Media Manager