Executive Functioning & Organizational Challenges

Executive Functioning & Organizational Challenges

Executive Functioning and Organizational ChallengesIntegrated Support for Elementary, Middle & High School Education

We know that a student’s success in life is increasingly dependent on skills such as organizing, problem solving, adaptability, critical thinking, collaboration, and self-awareness. Those who struggle with executive functioning and organizational challenges therefore require explicit teaching geared toward developing these increasingly important skill sets.   

Executive functioning refers to the way the brain manages, plans, organizes and sets goals to complete tasks in a timely and thorough way. Before coming to McLean, many of our students got easily overwhelmed and struggled in these areas — and at one time may have been labeled as uncooperative or even lazy, when the reality is their brains haven’t yet developed an ability to consistently and reliably connect the dots.

At McLean, we work closely with all our students on expectation setting, time management, and accessing the many tools available or required that can help them meet their goals. Self-reflection is an important aspect of executive functioning: the ability to assess one experience to inform the next. Sticky notes and signs are valuable visual cues for students who struggle with sequencing or keeping details straight — and we use these techniques with all of our students so that no one feels singled out or somehow less capable than their classmates. In fact, these strategies are so seamlessly integrated into how we teach, it’s hard to imagine a classroom any other way!

Our approach of scaffolding and gradual release builds confidence and resilience along with important learning habits. For example, in Upper School, a 9th grade study guide might include explicit test-taking strategies such as ‘here is how to approach multiple choice versus open response’; in 10th grade, there’s a shift away from specific recommendations to reminders; in 11th grade, students receive help developing their own study guides; and by 12th grade, it’s just a natural part of their own test preparation — and a skill they will carry with them to college. 

Here’s the key, which also gets to the most common misconception about McLean: the content of what we teach isn’t simplified… but the process of how we teach it is. And that’s what enables these bright students to really shine.

jobs sign