All educators play a crucial role in counteracting systemic racism and developing new and equitable approaches that support the success of every student. During the 2020-2021 school year, we launched our Executive Function (EF) and Equity Fellowship, bringing together six educators from across the US to explore how schools are addressing students’ executive function needs through an equity lens. This post, part one of a series, highlights the work of our 2020-2021 EF and Equity Fellows.
Meet Your Students Where They Are
Considering the learning context in which students operate is vital for successful EF strategy instruction. Dr. Kayoung Kim, a 2020-2021 EF and Equity Fellow and assistant professor of psychology at Tennessee State University, a historically black college and university (HBCU), worked closely with her students of color to support them during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of her students were motivated but not college-ready, and she was aware that intergenerational trauma was affecting students. While students were balancing school, families, and work, barriers prevented them from accessing supports, ranging from students not knowing how or where to access supports to a lack of time.
To address these issues, Dr. Kim implemented a trauma-informed metacognitive skills training course for first-semester freshmen that focused on time management. Her students completed time-waster analyses to understand the breakdown of their days. They then took time to reflect on their analyses to develop weekly or semester-long study plans. Self-reflection, explained Dr. Kim, was a critical part of this process.
Dr. Kim’s work is an example of trauma-informed teaching with students’ identities in mind. Throughout the academic year, Dr. Kim maintained open channels of communication with her students and held space for them to express how they learn best.
Equity Through Executive Function
ResearchILD’s mission, under the direction of Dr. Lynn Meltzer, is to empower ALL students to learn how to learn and to promote persistence and resilience through executive function strategies that build academic and life success.
At ResearchILD, we work closely with teachers and administrators to integrate executive function strategy instruction into project-based learning with an emphasis on student and community empowerment. Teaching executive function strategies systematically through the SMARTS curriculum is a tool for equity—it ensures that all students have strategies to draw upon when they face novel challenges in their academic and personal lives.
- 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