Students are more likely to engage in their own development with information about themselves, their brains and their goals. It is said “information is power”. The lack of self-awareness is recognized among the various executive functioning deficits. Empowering students begins with an exchange of information so they understand and become aware of themselves.
Awareness is the beginning of learning. Often students experience difficulties or frustrations but have difficulty labeling the specifics. Bringing understanding enlists them as a partner in the solution and is a foundational component of synergy, defined as the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. Effective coaching includes a healthy dose of synergy to begin the launch. The coach must be someone the student wants to follow. The student must feel understood to follow.
Disorder can lead to lack of productivity, efficiency and increased stress which makes being a good student – or good human – difficult. Finding homework assignments to complete or turning them in once completed is often identified as a stressor for students. When students learn how to organize themselves and are given the time and space to practice, they develop the habits and skills to organize and experience a better result encouraging them to continue.
At Effective Students, we believe that the practice of a student organizing him/herself is a critical step. We take care not to organize students’ materials for them which would make them dependent on us or any other coach. Rather, students develop when they are provided a framework to practice and an expectation of order. This is a venue to practice attention to detail in the concrete prior to teaching it in the abstract. Once a student can organize their binders, they can generalize organizational skills to their rooms, online documents, equipment bringing order, productivity, efficiencies and overall effectiveness.
Frequently students enter our practice and say they need to improve their time management, a phrase they have heard from a parent without really understanding what that means. Defining time in a way they can understand empowers them to manipulate their tasks for improved efficiency and meet expectations. When students are aware of their time and tasks, usually in the form of a visual support, their decision making ability improves as does capacity to prioritize.
Teaching students how to find assignments online is a foundational part of this process. Educational organizations and even families benefit from consistent sharing of obligations in written form so students can refer back to it for clarification. Students with ADHD and Executive Functioning difficulties often struggle with working memory. Having information (assignments, practices, games, projects) in written form, not just shared verbally in class, reduces reliance on working memory, an inherent weakness and improves outcomes.
Over the course of their educational career, the importance of study skills increases as a percentage of grades. Unfortunately, students are rarely taught how to study effectively despite its increased importance over time. Teachers often assign ‘study for test on Friday’ but what does that mean?
noun: metacognition; noun: meta-cognition
- awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes.
Engaging students’ critical thinking about their knowledge of academic content enlists them in solving their own how to learn issues (synergy). Teaching them how to learn information in less time is motivating and reinforcing, even if it’s slightly more involved in the short term. Knowing students want to spend less time studying, why are they so often told they need to ‘study more’? Students appreciate when we understand they want to study less and are engaged in how to do so effectively when presented with how. Teaching them to experiment with ways of studying effectively (trial and error) further engages them in solving the problem of their own learning thereby reducing their dependence on a coach over time. The Effective Student online course provides case studies for students to practice solving executive functioning difficulties of other students further engaging them in ‘thinking about thinking’.
In his recent book Think Again, Adam Grant discusses the value of questioning our thinking and rethinking our positions. One way for students to become curious about why they missed a question on a test is to ask them. Teachers often ask a student ‘what’ they missed which leads to a discussion of content then ‘need to know’. When we ask students ‘why’ they missed a question, this leads to a very different discussion — one that includes reverse chaining preparation steps, rethinking of alternatives and revision of process putting students in the driver’s seat of their own learning. Students love games. At Effective Students, we recognize that learning can be a game — and a fun one at that.