Lesson Five: School-wide support

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So far we have learned that everyone has some challenges with executive skills and that teenagers, in particular, can struggle due to the enormous surge of growth of neurons and synapses that happen during this time. In elementary school, a student’s day is very well managed. It is structured and the teacher helps the children move from one place to the other. Daily schedules are written, followed, and students can find all of their supplies in one place in the classroom. As time moves on and students transition to middle school, less of their day is perfectly planned. There is a sudden expectation that these students can organize themselves, their day, and their materials when they’ve never had to do so in the past. This is such and important point. Somehow I think you should emphasize this more.

What we can do as a school and as teachers to help with these skills?

At my middle school, we work to have the following supports in place:

  • We require our students to write in their planner on a daily basis.
  • Students have a time management planning guide in their planners to help them plan for outside activities, homework, and other events.
  • We have color coded our subject areas and marked our binders and folders with these colors, so supplies are easy to find in the locker.
  • We have periodic locker checks to make sure the lockers are clean and organized.
  • Electronic organizational tools are taught in some classrooms.
  • Consistent reading and writing strategies are taught throughout elementary and middle school.
  • We have a Study Skills Integration course for students who have identified weaknesses with their executive skills.


  1. What are some other school-wide strategies you can see that we are using at our school or schools you have worked in the past? Post your ideas in the comments section below to help us share ideas
  2. Read this article on supporting executive functioning at the school level using technology
  3. Read this article about the importance of handwriting over laptops. It is a bit academic, but the study made some waves in the EdTech world.
  4. Write a 250 word reflection on your school’s support system and how it relates to executive functioning skills. OR create a mind map to show your learning on the two articles relating to technology and executive functioning.



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  1. Some of the school-wide strategies that we implement in our school are
    – We have advisories and in these advisories we teach these skills as well as other non-cognitive skills like teamwork, self control, leadership, empathy towards others, bullying and how to avoid falling into it, etc.
    – Besides the regular advisory time, we have an extended advisory on certain days where the students go to “House” and they get involved in different activities, where they meet new students and share with the community. They do a lot of Community Service.

    I think that the color coding is brilliant, specially if it is done throughout the grade level and not only because one teacher wants to do it. i will bring this idea up because you are right, they go from having everything in one place, to being on their own, which for many students, can be a recipe for disaster, anxiety and being overwhelmed with the transition.

    Thank you!!

  2. Hi Anastassia,

    It seems your school does a very nice job of supporting the students with your advisory program. Our school is starting a similar program next year, and we are building in executive functioning skills as well. Here is a website with pre-made lessons: http://www.efintheclassroom.net/

    The color coding worked very well at our school in the past. Teachers were opposed at first, but eventually saw the value in it. Part of teaching EF to our students is helping our colleagues understand why it’s so important.


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