“What do you have for homework?”
“Where is your math book?”
“What do you mean you have to leave class to go to your locker to get your folder?”
“What do you mean the test is tomorrow?”
“You lost your coat again?”
“It’s 11PM, where am I going to find poster boards now?”
It is not surprising to anyone that there is growing, justifiable attention being given to understanding and improving what is referred to broadly as “executive functioning” in students. Executive functioning is a construct that refers to a set of mental processes that we use to self-regulate, which we are all called on to do all day, every day, and in every setting. The website of Harvard University Center for the Developing Child compares executive functioning in the brain to the “air traffic control system” at a busy airport, managing arrivals and departures of dozens of planes on multiple runways. For people, it allows us to focus, hold and work with information in mind, filter distractions, switch gears, make plans, keep track of time, initiate tasks, find our belongings, and the list goes on and on. One can easily see how executive functioning is fundamental to academic success.
The question for educators and researchers is how do we move from the theoretical construct of executive functioning to tangible strategies to help our children effectively manage required tasks? In other words, how do we make sure students can know what they have for homework, figure out where their books and supplies are, determine how long it takes to write a book report, know how to get started and complete tasks, and overall to become students who learn up to their potential?
Toward that end, we are thrilled to announce an exciting initiative for the 2014-15 academic year, WDS Grow Organizational and Learning Skills (GOALS). WDS is collaborating with esteemed faculty from NYU Langone Child Study Center to bring a new organizational and learning skills program to our students. The program is rooted in over ten years of empirical research conducted by Drs. Richard Gallagher, Howard Abikoff, and Elana Spira, and will incorporate student, teacher, and parent components.
There are four major components to our partnership with the NYU Langone Child Study Center:
1) Organization, Time Management, and Planning (OTMP):
One period per week, during the school day, NYU faculty will be teaching a 10-session organizational skills training workshop at WDS to our 6th
graders beginning at the start of the school year. To read more about this component, click here
2) NextStep Program:
Three mornings per week throughout the academic year, NYU faculty will co-lead with a WDS teacher an organizational support program for a small group of 6th
grade students, most of whom have benefited from a similar program piloted last year in the 4th
grades. To read more about this component, click here
3) Organizational Skills Training (OST):
NYU faculty will offer an intensive intervention program for certain students in the elementary school who have demonstrated a significant need for organizational skills training. This will take place after school at WDS and will include considerable parent involvement. To read more about this component, click here
4) Professional Development
: WDS teachers directly involved with OTMP and NextStep will receive training as part of those program’s sessions. The rest of the faculty will have dedicated training in executive functioning during specific faculty meetings and professional development days. In that way, the research and practical applications will permeate the entire student body during this year and in the future.
The four specific components of our partnership with NYU Langone Child Study Center described above will augment theGoodStart Program
, which we began in September 2013, and which grew throughout the year due to its success. The GoodStart Program provides organizational and learning support for 4th and 5th
grade students with identified needs in this area. To read more about the GoodStart Program, click here
All 6th and 7th graders will participate in the Organizational, Time Management, and Planning (OTMP) workshop beginning at the start of the school year. If we think your child would benefit from another specific aspect of this comprehensive initiative, we will contact you soon. Of course, please contact any of us to talk about any aspect of this exciting WDS initiative.