Students Speak: What Should We Do About Our Weaknesses? Use Strategies!
In SMARTS I learned that one of my weaknesses is that I don't plan ahead for things, so I always do them at the last minute. SMARTS taught me how to break apart my work into pieces, so I can do it one piece at a time. I set goals and break them down on my tests and math homework. —Eric, middle school student
One important benefit of developing metacognition is that it shows students the importance of using executive function strategies. Eric knows that doing things at the last minute makes schoolwork harder for him, so when he learned strategies that helped him break down his assignments, he was able to recognize that strategies could be helpful tools.
Another student writes:
When you know what your strengths and weaknesses are, then you know how to apply the skills you have to tests and homework. Instead of just knowing a bunch of information, you know what you’re doing in the specific subject or topic that you’re learning about. —Rachel, middle school student
Once you decide to teach your students executive function strategies, it's important to start with developing self-awareness. This helps students understand the context of WHY learning strategies are so valuable. Let your students reflect on who they are, and ask them to share what they have learned about themselves.
You may also consider sharing your own personal strengths and challenges that you face as an educator. It is often an unexpected revelation for students to learn that their teacher struggles with organization or test taking. What are your personal strengths and challenges? What strategies do you use to overcome your areas of weakness? How do your strategies leverage your strengths? By sharing this information, you will be modeling for your students how strategic learning works. You’ll also be helping forge stronger relationships in your classroom by showing students that through strategies they can acknowledge their weaknesses in a constructive way.
Take a look at Unit 1, Lesson 1 of the SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum to begin developing strategies to address your students areas of challenge.
Michael Greschler, M.Ed., SMARTS Director