Category Archives: remote learning

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:

Research Institute for Learning and Development:

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Parent Perspective: The Gap Between Home and School

Alana Bremers, parent and ResearchILD Intern, discusses how educators and parents can bridge the gap between home and school.

“My brother grew up with learning differences, and when my mom went to visit him in kindergarten, he was alone at a table with a pad of paper and a box of crayons. The rest of the class was on the floor listening to a story the teacher read.

My mom looked at the room. All the kids had their names self-written, decorated, and hung up on the wall; except, of course, my brother. No one thought to help him write his simple, three-letter name. He had dyslexia but could still participate. 

This was decades ago, but really it’s just the first chapter in a long story. My mom had to fight for everything he got out of school. If she had never visited him in school, he would have been ignored completely. Needless to say, he did not enjoy school.

In teacher training programs, we are trained to do better for students like my brother. We learn about behaviorism, conditioning, Pavlov, and Maslow. We design strategic interventions for struggling students and incorporate methods for scaffolding. We develop pride in our profession and power to help kids shape their futures. We have the best intentions, yet forget these kids belong to another world for most of their lives.

If a child is struggling, shouldn’t the first step be to ask the parents for insight? Is it appropriate to become a mentor to a student without becoming familiar with their parents? Wouldn’t it be helpful to make curricula available to parents and information about their children accessible? How do parents and teachers become team members in support of academic success?

As a future teacher, I want to positively transform the lives in my classroom. I want to be the teacher who inspires a generation of students to be kind and confident. Parents and teachers are on the same side: the side of happy, healthy, kind, intelligent, thoughtful kids. 

We know that relationships are fundamental to learning, and this is true both at home and at school. To be successful teachers, we need to forge positive relationships between home and school. Creating a consistent flow of information and sharing of strategies and ideas sends a message to our students that we are committed to setting them up for success. Especially for early learners, having a positive relationship with parents can help build trust and bring consistent messages from the classroom into the home.

Parents buy a lot of parenting books, read blogs, and ask for advice. They welcome partners in raising happy, healthy, successful, and kind children. Bridging parents and teachers, while respecting students, is rewarding for kids and will, therefore, help teachers achieve classroom goals.”

  • Alana Bremers, ResearchILD Intern

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum:

Research Institute for Learning and Development:

The Institute for Learning and Development:

Parent Perspective: Learning to Homeschool

Alana Bremers, parent and ResearchILD Intern, explains how she learned to homeschool during the pandemic.

“While deciding to homeschool my kids wasn’t easy, once I made the decision, I took it very seriously. I wanted to make sure that I developed a plan that would support my new teaching responsibilities, both academically and socially.

The social dimension of homeschooling has been great as I’m able to teach both of my kids together. We can play games, read to each other, and spend time using online learning programs.

We also have more flexibility in our daily schedule, so I’m able to make sure we have time for swim lessons, socially distanced play dates, or general fun. We have two sports days a week and family time on weekends. Homeschool counts time reading and playing games as education, and we can even count play as physical education. As a mom, I felt confident in my ability to keep my kids engaged with their friends and enjoying life.

Structuring their academic lives was a bit more challenging. However, as a teacher candidate, I felt like I could do the research and get this done. I had an interesting experience trying to untangle the local standards for education. After a few frustrating hours, I gave up, instead focusing on the standards of New York because their curriculum is available online, for free, with interactive learning assistance. New York state is very open about exactly what kids are expected to learn.

Connecting with other homeschool parents has been invaluable. I have found tremendous support from the general homeschool community and administrators of various curriculum products I use.”

  • Alana Bremers, ResearchILD Intern

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum:

Research Institute for Learning and Development:

The Institute for Learning and Development: