To develop lifelong learners who achieve success well beyond the walls of Assumption-St. Bridget, we take seriously the development of executive functioning skills in all of our learners. All of our students benefit from explicit lessons in the classroom that directly promote the identification, understanding, and practicing of executive functioning skills. Once per week, students have the opportunity to participate in our Self-Regulation Program, which provides one lesson in self-regulation to all students in the building each week. Although these lessons span a variety of themes throughout the year, the promotion of executive functioning skills is an important component to this program. Some explicit lessons that students may receive include such topics as “How to Organize Your Materials”; “What are Distractions, and How to Avoid Them”; “The Importance of Creativity”; “Managing Strong Feelings”; and “Coping with Stress”.
Students in 6th grade have the additional bonus of participating in our 6th Grade Study Skills course. This course is strategically poised to help our students make the significant jump from primary education, to a middle school educational program. This advancement brings with it a step up in academic rigor, student responsibilities, transitions and interactions with more teachers, and all executive functioning skills. At this crucial time, this course provides students with an additional lesson each week promoting executive functioning skills in relation to classroom behavior, management of responsibilities, homework completion, and test-taking skills.
As part of our Tier 1 programming in executive functioning skills, we also promote enrichment in executive functioning through leadership opportunities. At Assumption-St. Bridget School, we strive to create graduates who have both comfort, experience, and confidence in taking on leadership positions in their current and future communities. We focus on the development of leadership skills, which are strongly linked to executive functioning, in all grades, in such opportunities as:
- Leading whole-class service projects;
- Presenting learning to the community (i.e. Reading Rodeo – 1st Grade; Learning Luau – 2nd Grade; Long-Range Study Project – 3rd Grade; Native American Project – 4th Grade; National Parks Project – 5th Grade);
- Participating in performances (i.e. Christmas and Spring Concerts);
- School-wide Buddy Program; and
- School-wide Families Program.
As a capstone to our leadership programming, our 8th grade students also participate in our 8th Grade Leadership Course. This course is designed to hone leadership potential and styles through the application of executive functioning and social/emotional skill sets. Students are expected to graduate from Assumption-St. Bridget School motivated to use their executive functioning and social/emotional skills to fulfill future leadership roles in academics, clubs, sports, service, and the arts. This enrichment course provides them with instruction, activities, discussion, and reflection prompts to encourage student contemplation of why and how they want to showcase and use their strengths in the wide world beyond Assumption-St. Bridget School.
Learning about, discussing, practicing, and reflecting upon executive functioning skills is something that is ingrained in our teaching practices and the educational environment we provide our students. Teachers consistently use reminders and direct feedback to help all students recognize their executive functioning skills and work to improve them. Because of our emphasis on the development of executive functioning skills, parents may hear about their child’s development in this area in emails, parent-teacher conferences, and in comments on report cards.