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Students with executive function challenges benefit from being taught directly about strategies for school and life success then implementing them for a looong time. After many years of working with these kids, there are definitely a handful of ESSENTIAL questions they SHOULD be asking themselves on a daily basis in order to effectively track the systems they need to be maintaining. When students DON’T learn to ask these questions, things fall apart, they become more disorganized, they end up with a bunch of missing and late work, grades fall and stress goes up for everyone. This video dives into some specific questions to ask and why they are so important. Very best, Seth
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Hey parents, teachers, and students. What’s up? My name is Seth. I’m an executive function coach in Boulder, Colorado and I help struggling students navigate this thing called education. I’m going to talk a little bit today about this sheet that I use in my office quite a bit and I did an extensive video on this and why it’s so important.
So basically I created the sheet after years and years and years of asking students the exact same question. And the reason I created that sheet is that these are the questions that students need to be asking themselves. However, if your child, if you’re a teacher, if your students, who struggle with executive function, or if you are a student who is trying to figure out how to navigate this thing called school on your own, you want to be asking the right questions. These are the questions you are going to need to be asking yourself on a daily basis. Now with most successful students, this comes relatively easy to them again. Why? These students who are naturally organized naturally have relatively good executive functions. They ask these questions more or less automatically and they think through these things in order to make sure that no stone goes unturned, that they are really asking the right questions to make sure that they’re on top of what needs to happen. The students that I work with that struggle with executive function tend to have a lot of missing or incomplete work, zeros, test corrections, and things like that and they missed details and they might have homework that they just forgot to turn in that they actually did. They may have forgotten to turn it in with their name on and got no credit etcetera. Either way, they tend to miss details, but basically what does she does is it breaks down the questions that I want students to be asking on a regular basis.
I’m only going to focus on one part of the sheet. Basically, when my kids first come in and they’re making a plan for the evening in an ideal situation, they’re going to think through it just like you and I do as adults, we think through our day, “What do I have to do today?” They get home from school. They should be thinking, “What do I have to do tonight?” Obviously kids are with executive function are not necessarily thinking what they have to do that night. Anyhow, I start off by asking, “What’s your number one priority?” This is a very good question asking to ask for these classes. Any makeup work? Then ask if they have any long-term things they should be working on. Then I have the ‘should’ section and that’s what I’m going to talk about right now. In this section you should say, “Hey, do you have any homework?” They’ll say, “I’m all done, finished it all in school. Nope. I’m sure I don’t have anything,” and they really believe they don’t have anything to do but they’re not understanding that there are other things that they should be doing on a regular basis that other students do naturally, but these students often don’t do it at all. What happens is they end up in the big ‘dip’ and they end up spending the rest of the semester trying to swim upstream and dig themselves out of holes. So what are the questions? I will put them on my blog so that you can cut and paste them and make a print out if you want. But basically, the questions that I ask my students all the time is this: “Hey, what do you have to do tonight?” They might say, “Just math, that’s it. Yep. That’s it. No, everything else good. Yep. Everything else. Good.“
Respond with, “Okay, well should you check your portals tonight?” Oftentimes what schools do is this is a mess. I might have a student who has a portal called Infinite Campus, Google Classroom, and Schoology. For example, I might have kids with multiple portals, or they may have one teacher that has their own website where they post up. It is a mess, a logistical nightmare for kids who struggle with executive function. It is very difficult for them to know what they need to stay on top of it, to even know where to go. So I ask, “Should we check your portals tonight?” And when I do that, I thoroughly check them. For example, when we check the Grade Portal, my students are often looking at them, “I have an 82 in this class,” and I say, “I don’t care that you have an 82, let’s look at the details because that’s where it shows the missing and incomplete work, zeros, and the things that you need to know.” That’s where we see patterns. That’s where we can see, “Oh, this kid has an A, they’re getting all their homework turned in and that’s why they have the A. But all of their quizzes and tests are lower scores.” So we know it gives us the information we need to work on study skills, for example.
Question 1. “Should we look at the portals tonight?”
Question 2. “Should we deal with your inbox tonight?” A lot of times these students are not looking at their inbox, ever. They don’t reply to emails that legitimately require a reply. If they do reply to the email, they often do it in a short way where they’re not capitalizing, they’re not indenting, or they’re not showing that they know how to write a letter. They don’t have to be long, but they at least should be courteous. And should they should show that they know how to actually communicate via writing in a quick email. They often have a lot of spam. They often have a lot of like things that they’ve subscribed to where they have millions of things that never opened all these things. So should we deal with the inbox tonight?
Question 3. Planner. “Should we deal with updating the planner?” In an ideal world, every day your child is crossing off for checking off each day and all of the things that they’ve done that day. So that by the end of the day you can look in a month, for example, and see a bunch of crossed tasks in the days because they are regularly checking it out. These kids don’t do that. So should we update your planner? And now it’s in your planner. It isn’t just getting it up to date for what you can cross off, but it’s also asking if you need to backwards plan. Do you have a project coming up where you need to backwards plan? And you need to be working on that and also getting in your planner give extracurricular activity. And upcoming homework. What you have to do tomorrow is that in the planner. So should use the update the planner question.
Question 4. Should we reset your backpack? I do this every week or two with all of my students. We take everything out of the pack. We could reorganize all the folders. We organize all the pockets and we organize all the school supplies. We organize the entire backpack and what do you know because it starts with executive function. You know homework that was supposed to be done today, or that got lost in the backpack. Papers that are in the wrong folders, papers ready to be recycled, things like that. We need to reset the backpack.
Question 5. Is there any makeup work? I know I mentioned this earlier in this video, but I will ask this question, should I work on makeup work because these, kids when you say, “Do you have any homework,” they’re thinking about “no, I don’t have anything to do today or these are the things I have to do today.” But if they have missing or makeup work that needs to be done, that’s often not on their radar, okay. “Do you have makeup work that you’re forgetting about?”
Question 6. This is a very very powerful question. “Are you forgetting anything?” When I ask the student if they’re forgetting anything, my goal is that I see them take a moment and maybe look around thinking about it and seriously contemplate, “Am I forgetting anything?” This is a very powerful question and often times a student will say, “Oh, yeah. I’m forgetting blah blah blah.” They’re forgetting the thing. And so it’s a great question that helps capture the things that we have missed. So my goal when working with these students is to catch all the details and to help with executive function a lot of things.
The questions I just mentioned are very related to Executive function directly or indirectly. So again, here are the questions you should ask. “Hey, what’s up Japanese homework tonight? Okay, you know we go through the the deal but should you check your portals tonight? Should you deal with your inboxes tonight? Should you deal with your planner tonight and update it thoroughly. Should you reset your backpack and reorganize yourself tonight? Do you have makeup work that you should be worth? And did you forget anything?”
That’s all I have for you. Again, my name is Seth Perler, I’m an executive function coach based out of Boulder, Colorado. I hope you’re having a great day. And if you like my work, please share it with somebody today. And also if you are on YouTube, you can go ahead and give me a thumbs up and a comment if you want tell me what you think about this, if there are questions that I’m forgetting that I should be asking students. Should you be doing this tonight so that they are covering all the bases are there. Is there anything that I’m leaving out and what do you guys do to deal with us? All right. I will see you soon. Take care.