We assume our children will organically learn how to organize their thoughts and belongings, be able to manage their time, and more. Not true. In fact, if you thought about it, you’d realize that you struggle with this too.
We must teach these executive functioning (EF) skills to our children. In doing so, we can transform their family and school experience.
This week on the podcast, I’m joined by Sean McCormick, who was inspired to teach and coach executive functioning to empower parents and teens to be more organized, thoughtful, and goal-oriented. He shares how receiving executive functioning support impacts learners and families, why students with EF skills are more successful, how to have a family meeting about goals, and what educators can do when a student has a language barrier.
Every human needs to have EF skills, and if we as parents and educators struggle with it ourselves (as we often do), bringing in a professional is key. Listen in!
About Sean McCormick:
Sean McCormick is a parent, husband and international executive function coach. He founded Executive Function Specialists, a remote coaching business that empowers parents and teens to be more organized, thoughtful and goal-orientated.
He also hosts the Earn More Tutoring Podcast, which helps educators world-wide build better practices to help more students and families with their educational needs.
You can learn more about Sean’s work by Googling Executive Function Specialists or Earn More Tutoring.
Jump in the Conversation:
[1:20] – How I learned about executive functioning
[3:13] – How executive function impacts learners
[3:33] – Sean’s story
[5:12] – The impact communication and organization skills have on school
[6:12] – How support impacts learners
[6:57] – Research behind what’s most impactful for students
[9:30] – Helping others become EF specialists
[10:39] – Scott’s big mission – Ensure every student has access to EF and teachers are trained in it
[11:08] – What everyone needs to know about EF
[11:53] – EF skills have higher predictor of school readiness and outcomes
[12:59] – What parents can do to ensure kids have EF skills
[16:33] – Family meetings: start with gratitude
[18:58] – Remember: there’s an unequal power dynamic in families
[20:01] – EF when kids have language barriers
[22:05] – Suggestions for parents/teachers to integrate EF into work
[23:10] – Reticular activation system
[25:20] – Turbo Time
[27:59] – Sean’s Magic Wand
[30:28] – Maureen’s Takeaways
Links & Resources
- Executive Function Specialists
- Dr. Adele Diamond
- Dominican University goals study
- Dr. Stephen Krashen
- Sean on Facebook
- Sean on LinkedIn
- EFS on Instagram
- EFS on Youtube
- Email Maureen
- Maureen’s TEDx: Changing My Mind to Change Our Schools
- The Education Evolution
- Facebook: Follow Education Evolution
- Twitter: Follow Education Evolution
- LinkedIn: Follow Education Evolution
- EdActive Collective
- Maureen’s book: Creating Micro-Schools for Colorful Mismatched Kids
- Micro-school feature on Good Morning America
- The Micro-School Coalition
- Facebook: The Micro-School Coalition
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 0:03
Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at Education Evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education evolution, micro school coalition, and co founder of at active, I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review?
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:08
Education Evolution gets to look at school change today through the eyes of Sean McCormick of EF specialists. The first time I really paid attention to the phrase executive functioning, or EF was when my older daughter was diagnosed with ADHD in third grade, I learned that the EF skill set was being able to have that executive secretary take a project, break it into parts and complete it. I learned about supporting her by breaking a project into chunks. And clarifying verbally and in writing. The first few tasks needed to be completed before starting an assignment or a project. I remember when she was having a difficult time writing her spelling words in sentences. She’s always loved language. So this surprised me. I was fortunate to find an ADHD coach in Hungary almost 20 years ago, this coach gave me a strategy that had amazing results. I would scribe as my daughter J. Adrian would tell me the spelling words in sentences. I was stunned to see that this extra step really let her shine. She would create a full story and weave every word into the story theme. Her ADHD challenge had been blocking what a creative writer and thinker she is. I’m excited for you to get to hear from Shawn today. It really is possible to shift how we assign work and support learners to let their brilliance shine out.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 3:03
Hi, Sean, it is so good to have you.
Sean McCormick 3:07
Thank you, Dr. O’Shaughnessy. I appreciate that glad to be here today.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 3:11
Executive functioning impacts all of us at some level. And especially before the prefrontal lobe is fully developed in a student’s 20s. So when you add on learners with ADHD or other learning differences, your strategies become a needed resource for most learners. So I really want to dive in by starting with your story.
Sean McCormick 3:34
Absolutely, I’d be happy to share.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 3:35
Yay. We know our learning practices have to evolve to catch up with neuroscience and to serve all learners. Where did this story of education transformation begin for you, Sean?
Sean McCormick 3:47
Yeah, I mean, the the story? Definitely, I think one of the, I guess you could say inflection points of my engagement with education was right after high school, I did a program called city near New York. And it’s a it’s a volunteer program where you go and work in the public school system. So I’m from California, but I chose to work in New York, and I spent a year volunteering, helping kids who are struggling with managing school, reading, basically being a support for them in the school. And that was the beginning of like, Wow, there’s so much need out there. And I can really add value to the world by being of service. And from there. After that, I went to college I got the program offers a scholarship if you completed and so I went to the City College of New York, and then got my Master’s in special education and along the way I was working in education. But I guess I just was naturally gravitating towards supporting kids with organization. So my master’s degree was in special education or exceptional education. And no matter where I went, I kind of tended to focus on helping kids set goals, getting them more engaged in school. And so that was the prelude to starting my business executive function specialists And that basically just came about because I realized every kid I was helping, I was helping them learn how to manage school, how to email their teachers how to identify all their assignments and prioritize. And I watched kids go from D’s, or F’s to B’s and A’s just by learning how to manage school, effectively communicate with their teachers, and follow through on things and basically negotiate a plan with their teachers to get back on track. And I was like, wow, this is incredible. It’s incredible for the kids. It’s incredible for their families. And I wanted to take that process and turn it into a really clear process that not only my team members could follow, but other people could follow. So that’s what birth creating the course become an online executive function specialist. And also just our business, we really focus on a five step process, which was born from the history of trying to figure out and tweak what really helps kids get on track with school and be successful.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 5:55
This is so needed. Wow, I think of my daughter, she was diagnosed in third grade. And when I needed tools, then to help her, I think of our kids going off to college. It’s it’s such an important life skill. Tell us more about what you’ve created and how it’s impacting learners.
Sean McCormick 6:15
Yeah, so the process that that we utilize to help kids with executive function and their families, it’s like a family approach because it’s drawn from I spent about five years developing and working in accounting in which classroom for kids who are coming back from residential treatment programs and needed to reintegrate with the public school district, or if they were on their way out, or the school district wasn’t able to offer them high enough level of support. They they created this classroom, the counseling rich classroom. So it was a collaboration between a psychologist myself and para educators, which are kind of like helpers in a special education classroom, as well as other content airy specialists. But for some students, they need even more support. And that’s what is called a wraparound model where you actually engage the family, you have very consistent monthly meetings, where you’re identifying the goals of service, identifying the action steps and getting everybody on the same page. And the research behind that is that he did some research on what was the was the most impactful thing for students. And they found that they analyze all the different studies on what impacts student learning the most in the highest way beyond everything. As you know, Dr. O’Shaughnessy, I’m sure, you know, was collective teacher efficacy, right? When teachers are collaborating and working towards a common goal, the impact on student learning is like skyrockets, like, and if you look at the study, you’ll see parent engagement, like positive praise, like all this stuff has as much smaller impact. So the good news for parents is that you’re actually not, I guess you could say, as liable as you may think you are for failures or successes with their students. The real impact is that when you have a team of people collectively working towards helping a student be successful, that that is what changes their life most significantly, according to research. So I took that process, and I coded it into our process. So our process at executive function specialist, it starts with an inquiry with the family and the student, then we do an assessment of the students skills. And the family, we’re asking like, how are you helping them with this? How do they know how to prioritize? How do they know how to communicate with their teachers track their assignments, and we’re kind of assessing both the student and the family. And then we assign them a specialist on our team that can work with them on a week to week basis, to address those areas of need. But then the step that allows for that collective team efficacy, is what we call the family team meeting. And so after a month of service, we get the family involved, and we say Hey, are we on track? Do we need to course correct at all. And so we’re continually evaluating the fidelity or the success of our process throughout the process, and correcting as needed by involving the family, and also centering the students voice in those meetings. And so when you do that on a consistent basis, it’s kind of what the spirit of an IEP meeting is to, like, get everybody on the same page. But it’s happening at a more predictable, consistent and positive pace with less of the, I guess, you could say, the kind of rigidness of the IEP process that sometimes turns people off. So it’s a pretty incredible process. And we’ve just seen it transform families over and over and over. Which is why, why I want to get the word out there and teach others how to do it as well.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 9:24
And so then you have a course I was checking out your website, the course where you can help others become Yes, specialists. Would that put those pieces together for people in different schools or businesses?
Sean McCormick 9:38
Yeah, you know, right now, I wouldn’t say it’s exactly tuned for someone working in a school as a general ed teacher, if you’re a learning specialist, and you’re looking for a process to engage those students who are struggling, or maybe you’re not, you’re not sure how to work with the team to support them. I’d say it’d be very geared towards someone like that like learning Spanish test or an executive function coach, or someone who’s wanting to do this type of work independently, there are definitely elements in it that will help teachers, especially teachers who use Google classroom or the Google suite that are going to help them be more effective at understanding their students who are struggling with, you know, following through and completing assignments or communicating, it will teach you how to teach them certain skills. So, yes, I would say it’s very effective for for learning specialists, or people who are working independently of the school. Still Still, I guess, you know, I haven’t really tested on schools yet. So I don’t I don’t know yet. But we’ll find out. And I’m, you know, that’s part of my work. One of my missions, I guess my big missions with all this work is to ensure every K through 12 student has access to executive function coaching, and their teachers are trained in best practices to support their executive function needs. So that’s the long term vision. But we’re starting with people like myself, or learning specialists who really want to help students with these skills.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 10:57
I love it. And it’s so needed across the board. What would you say if there were a couple of key points that you wanted people to understand about executive functioning? If they’re like, No, my kid needs to learn math and writing? What’s the big deal about this EMF? What are some key things you would want them to understand?
Sean McCormick 11:17
Yeah, I love that question. Thank you. For us, I appreciate it. I think one thing you’ll want to do is look at the research of Dr. Adel diamond, if you’re a parent who’s really like, I know what’s best for my kid. And parents, of course, know what’s best for the kid. But if you really want to inform yourself, Dr. Adele diamond is one of the she’s in the top point zero 1% of cited research in education. And she’s highly highly respected. She’s She did a meta analysis. So she took all the studies on executive function or the the major ones. And she identified like, what are the things that stand out across the board on executive function. And one thing across multiple peer reviewed studies she found was that executive function skills have a higher predictor of school readiness and school outcomes than entry level reading or math scores. So how I interpret that is that teaching your child executive function skills, skills like and I call them positive skills, and positive stands for planning, organization, self awareness, self management, inhibition, task initiation, or initiation. So task, T stands for time management, I stands for initiation. And V stands for verbal and nonverbal memory. And E stands for evaluating priority. Sorry, I had to like, I created that positive metaphor or acronym to remember all the skills because there are so many skills, but if you want your child to have those teaching, explicitly teaching them those positive skills, so that they can fully access any course, right? It doesn’t it’s not doesn’t matter if math or reading, those are extremely important. But anything if they learn how to self organize, self manage, communicate, evaluate their progress, that’s what’s going to allow them to access school most effectively, and things beyond school. So for parents out there, here’s what I would say, one, focus on helping your kids write down their goals, that is such a big thing. Like, I want to earn an A in this class, or I want to earn a three, whatever the rubric is, I want to be able to do this, like smart goals like what, what that it’s things that they have to say I was able to do this or I was not able to, because kids can just thrive when they can achieve the goal or not achieve it, but they feel down and overwhelmed. When you’re like you need to do better. You need to be more reflective. Kids don’t get that they don’t know what it means to do better. But they do know what it means to be earn an 80 or better on a math test, right? So when goals are clear, and achievable, and they’re going to thrive. So for parents out there, write down your own goals and make sure they’re very specific. They’re not just like, I want my kid to be smarter, write down your goals, and then also teach your child how to write down Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, time bound goals. Okay, and so those that’s the first step and externalize them, put it on a post it note on there, you know, have them put on a post it note on their mirror, have them put in Google Tasks. And those are some of the things I teach about in the course, like how do you externalize goals. So that’s the number one key is externalize the goals. The second key is you need to teach explicit communication skills. So I talked about pinging your teachers and pinging your teacher stands for kids don’t know how to email their teachers and they need they need instruction on it. So when we talk about pinging your teachers, it means P stamp start with a pleasant introduction. Hey, teacher, I hope you’re doing well. I stands for inform and inquire so I noticed that my grading your classes A D. I was wondering if I did this, this and this would that bring my grade up to a b? Right? So you’re just informing and inquiring, like would this work with this if I propose you this plan, because the other part is we need to teach kids how to propose things and negotiate and not just expect their teachers are going to come and find them and say, Okay, if you do this, you’re gonna get back on track because teachers have 150 kids, they don’t have time to figure out a perfect plan for every kid but if we teach kids how to reach out to their teachers, how to ping them, we’re gonna help them so the end ping stands for negotiate. If I do this, will I be able to earn full credit for the assignment, and then G is and with gratitude, thank you so much for your guidance teacher, I appreciate it. So teaching kids, those explicit communication skills is so so important. And the final case, I have three keys. And the last one is engaged the parents, so for teachers, for parents, and parents engage your family, right. So we talked about that family team meeting process, and that’s just being predictable and consistent about meeting with your kid every week, whether it’s on Sunday, you go through the assignments with them, or you talk about the goals for the week, just having a weekly action plan, having a consistent, reliable, predictable schedule to engage your students around their goals and your family goals. So those three things work magic, but you do have to kind of learn how to do them effectively. So those those are things I tried to teach about and help families and schools and parents understand,
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 15:52
Oh, those are so helpful. And I think sometimes parents, I know, when my kids were teens felt like, Okay, I’ve got to get them to their activities, got to check in on the homework, I really felt reactive, just trying to manage my full time job and their needs. And we had a family meeting just it was a personal value thing. But it really wasn’t about kids goals and our goals. It was about gratitude, check ins, some different pieces. So I like that we can have these executive meetings as a family and, and be proactive with goal setting and follow up. And, again, that consistency and routine that we all benefit from.
Sean McCormick 16:31
Absolutely, yeah. And they don’t, you know, every family is going to be different. And the needs of every frame are different. So I love starting with gratitude. So one of the keys to the family team meeting is the first it’s a very simple agenda. There’s three items, what’s going well, what needs to change, who does what, by when. Right. And so all we started with that gratitude, or would that expression of positivity, because when you start to talk about what’s going well, and everybody’s cheering, like, Oh, we’re so proud that you, you know, put away the dishes this week, or we’re so proud you put your laundry away, or we’re so glad you showed up to this family team meeting, whatever it is, when you do that, that lowers what we call the effective filter. So I know we probably have some educators out here. And the work of Stephen Krashen showed that when people start with the positive when they’re allowed to self select and identify things that are working for them, the research is really based on when kids self select reading materials, but I think it applies across the board. Because when you allow people to self select what they think is going well, what they want to work on, you lower that affective filter, and they’re more likely to engage in the process rather than if it’s a top down process, or just like you have to do this, this and this by this time, or I don’t love you know, we’re not we’re not doing that we’re focusing on what’s going well, and then let’s talk about what what needs to change. And maybe there’s an opportunity to provide some corrective supportive feedback. But that’s why, why oftentimes, it’s it’s hard for parents to do, right, because there’s a lot of, there’s a lot going on in the family dynamic. So sometimes having someone who’s trained in this can be very helpful. But you can also research yourself and learn about it. If if people are curious.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 18:00
Honestly, I think relying on somebody else can be really helpful. A lot of my high school parents were like, I’m so glad that they listened to you. But I said the same thing first, and they ignored me. So I think parents realize that they’re not always listened to as adolescents are doing their individuation process and pushing away from parents. So to have that neutral adult, really facilitating the process can take the parents off the hotspot and let them be a part of the process, which I really appreciate.
Sean McCormick 18:29
Right. And when parents show that they’re coachable. You know, the the parents I work with the ones who get the most out of this work, and that really see the most Transform, transform if changes are the ones who actually engage in the process, who show up, like literally just showing up 90% of life is showing up, just show up to the meeting and engage. And that’s extremely transformational for kids, because they see, oh, my parents are actually learners too. And so then they they adopt that attitude. And the other thing I wanted parents to know out there and this is something I’ve learned through working with hundreds of students on this process is one of the reasons it’s hard for parents to be heard by their kids is because there’s an unequal power dynamic, often in the family dynamic. So as a child, you know, your parents control everything, right? I mean, to a certain extent, they’re they’re choosing what time you go to bed, you know, what snacks you get, and, and all these things. So parents remember that, just like a boss and an employee have a different power dynamic parents and children have different power dynamics. And so they’re more sensitive at times because they their position is more fragile, right? You’re, you’re set, you got the power, you know, you created them in a sense. So really acknowledging and understanding that, that they are reactive because there’s that unequal power dynamic and being sensitive that is going to help you work more effectively with them.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 19:45
So an important reminder, absolutely. So you hit a little bit on self selecting, I’d love to backup I love that component in the family meeting. Talk about a little bit in terms of read Because I think a lot of our listeners would be interested in that as well.
Sean McCormick 20:05
Yeah. So Dr. Stephen Krashen is an incredible researcher and he hid the focus of his research has been on how do you help students with language barriers come to the United States and learn how to learn in classrooms where the their, their native language is not typically being spoken. So that’s one of the hardest things is when you have a classroom and you’re providing instruction in English. And then you have a student who doesn’t speak English. How do you help them? Learn English? I mean, it also, ideally, we would teach in their native language. But that’s not always possible, right? Given just given the reality of public education or private education. So he was trying to figure out, like, how do we help these students, and one thing he found is that when students self select their own reading materials, they learn a foreign language or learn how to read more effectively, or they’re more fluent, they have a higher rates of comprehension, when they self select reading materials, so that that little magic piece of allowing them to choose of giving them the opportunity to self select reading materials, can basically help them access a language or skills that weren’t previously as accessible. So I think that’s just really important to remember. Now, I also feel that doesn’t just have to be reading materials. I mean, I think it’s important that we teach kids effective reading materials, but some kids, they really will blossom, if you also allow them to access reading in different modalities. So that might be audiobooks. I know I almost strictly listen to odd. I mean, I read, but not I almost for actual lengthy reading materials and books, I almost strictly use Audible. So there’s many ways to access knowledge, and allowing the different modalities, you know, there’s incredible courses, YouTube, YouTube series, Audible, helping kids learn how to access information in a way that works with their unique brains is important, even if it’s not how we always have done it.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 21:58
I love that. Yes. So before I pivot and ask some triple questions of you, if you could give parents to suggestions, and teachers to suggestions to take action on integrating is their executive functioning into the work that they’re doing? What would be like the big places to start?
Sean McCormick 22:21
Yeah, I think the biggest one is just writing down those goals, having students write down their goals. So Dr. Now I’m just forgetting her name. But she, she did a study at Dominican University, and she studied the difference between people who write down their goals versus people who don’t. And she did a controlled study of over 275 participants. And she found that the participants who wrote down their goals were 42% more likely to reach them. So for parents and teachers out there, have kids write down goals, like have them write what grade they want on an assignment, or, you know, and teachers have been doing this, but try to get specific about it like, Hey, what’s your goal for this test or this assignment, write it down, and then have them revisit that after they do that just by writing it down. It does, it works magic. So there’s actually this thing called the reticular activation system in the brain. And the reticular activation system is where sensory information, auditory information, and tactile kinesthetic information all flow into the brain, and then it disseminates it to the different hemispheres of the brain, most specifically, the frontal lobe, which is where our executive functions tend to reside. So when we write down our goals, I’ll give you an example, a very mundane example. But let’s say I say, I want a cup of coffee at the beginning of the day, right? I put that goal in my head, maybe I write it down. But I’m very clear that I want that right. Then when I’m driving to work, I look around and I start to notice, oh, there’s a Starbucks right there. Oh, there’s a piece coffee over here. Whatever it is. And so when you put a goal in your head, your sensory mind, your your your brain is scanning your environment for cues that help you reach your goal. And the same thing goes for students, when they say they want to earn a 90 on their science test, then they start to scan their environment subconsciously. And they notice Oh, my teacher put extra credit there. Well, my teachers offered for study session, and office hours, right? So when we have people write down their goals, and activates that reticular activation system and helps us pick up environmental cues to help us reach our goals. So that’s the big one. I think teachers and parents alike can benefit from that. So can I can that be a twofer? Or should I do a separate one for each of them? No, no, that can be a twofer. Okay, perfect. And then the second one, I think is I think just being predictable and consistent about your engagement with students. So the reason our program works is because it’s a change doesn’t happen overnight. It happens over a predictable period of time and we meet with students every week. You know, we have a process for engaging with students with in kids from zero to you know, even adults, we love routines and we love consistency. And when you’re consistently engaging in weekly meetings to discuss problems or you know, problem solve or to discuss what’s going well go and grows. And when you’re having those family team meetings or whatever it is, identifying you know where the need is, and then being consistent about addressing it. And then you know, once something’s going well then sticking with that as well, like, we don’t want to stop and things are going well. So I think those are two really big things is write down your goals, really get clear on your vision, and then be consistent about the action and support that that’s occurring to support reaching those goals.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 25:24
I love it. Thank you for giving us specifics. And I will also get the sources that you’ve mentioned and put them in our show notes. So people that want to dig into the research, we’ll have that available.
Sean McCormick 25:37
Awesome. And I will remember the name of that doctor and let you know from Dominican College.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 25:44
Perfect. I want to shift and do a couple of triple time questions, because it’s always fun to get to know the person behind the concept or the work. So are you ready?
Sean McCormick 25:55
I’m ready. Let’s do it.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 25:57
Awesome. Okay, Sean, what is the last book you read?
Sean McCormick 26:01
Well, I’m working on it right now. It’s called the million dollar micro business by I believe her name is Tina power. And she was a former teacher and then started a tutoring business and creates coursework, to help people basically share their expertise. And I and so that was part of the inspiration for growing my course. I mean, I think I was walking home. I was at the naipo conference, which is the National Association of productivity organizing professionals. And I saw this book in the airport, and it just like attracted me, I was like, wow, what is that? And it was like a perfect fit because she’s a former educator who started selling her expertise through coursework and impacting a lot of people. So that’s inspiring me right now.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 26:43
Love that. What’s the biggest thing you wish folks knew about executive functioning?
Sean McCormick 26:49
I think the biggest thing I wish they knew was that executive function skills are the greatest predictor of school success, according to peer reviewed research, and people gotta gotta pay attention to him.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 27:01
Wow. And how about something that most folks don’t know about you?
Sean McCormick 27:06
Most people do not know that. I played in one of the most famous basketball tournaments. It’s called the Rucker Park tournament. Right out of high school. My other love besides public service was playing basketball at all the famous street ball courts I had watched in and one videos growing up. So I played basketball in college for a year and I’ve always played pickup basketball. And I found my way by playing in the West Fourth park. There’s this famous basketball court in New York City called the cage on West Fourth Street, I was playing there and someone recruited me to play on their team. And the Rucker Park tournament and I got to play against an NBA player some of these players had watched in, in the in one tournament, it was like a dream come true. For me, my New York City basketball dream, so I feel very blessed to have that opportunity.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 27:53
That is awesome. Final question. Yeah, a magic wand moment. So if you had a magic wand, Shawn, and could create a toolkit for adolescents? What executive functioning tools? Would you wish each learner had?
Sean McCormick 28:12
Wow, that’s a great question. I think I would want them to have, the first thing that comes to mind is have an explicit, not explicit, like, bad, but a clear step by step process for communicating with their teachers. I think that because kids often put teachers on a pedestal, they don’t realize that they can work with them effectively by talking to them or emailing them. And often kids with anxiety, they don’t want to talk to them, because that’s more anxiety provoking, so learning how to effectively email their teachers, and problem solve, and also build a relationship with them. Because one thing I didn’t realize until I got older was that your relationships are everything, you know, that, you know, I used to be this really focused on my grades and, and, you know, just basically trying to perform at a high level in school, but not really realizing that. The other aspect of school success is the relationships you build with the teachers that can be springboards to the dreams and opportunities that you you have. So I think learning how to effectively communicate with teachers and I use the ping process is a great way to really realize that you there’s more flexibility and possibility than you realize when you start communicating, so that would be the biggest one. And then the other part is the writing down the goals. Just just continuing to teach that process like you, if you write it down, it can come true. Like there’s, there’s a certain magic and scientific basis for writing things down and getting specific and clear on your vision. And I’m 33 and I’m hitting a lot of goals just because I write them down and put in the work. But if I had been doing this since sixth grade, man, I just the possibility is unbelievable. You know what I mean? So, so I really want kids to understand that and and leverage that little simple trick to reach whatever they want until you understand what they want. Because when you write it down, you start to understand it more clearly.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 30:09
Love it. Thank you for all of the work you’re doing with executive functioning. And thank you for being our guest today.
Sean McCormick 30:15
Absolutely. Dr. O’Shaughnessy, thank you so much for having me on. I appreciate it.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 30:27
It is wonderful to support this idea of becoming organized with very specific structures. A five step process, weekly meetings, including goals, a clear process for successfully communicating with teachers, Google tools used fully. I love the specifics that Sean provides. Sean’s work with EF specialist is such a welcome toolkit of just such structures, I’m definitely going to share his courses with my parents and teachers. I particularly like Sean’s number one recommendation, which is good for all of us, writing down our goals, and making them specific and measurable with the completion date SMART goals, and then revisiting them weekly. I didn’t understand how our brain loves getting activated to help us meet these goals. So that was a fun nugget of neuroscience. It’s no surprise that there is research to back that when students get to select their reading materials. It has a direct effect on the improvement of their reading skills. At our micro school, we find when students are empowered to make as many of the learning choices as possible, and to weave in their personal interests and preferences. The engagement in learning increases. We all like to have a say in what we do. I look forward to having Sean back on our podcast. After my families and teachers have had a chance to learn and apply his helpful techniques. Stay tuned. And as always, thank you for being a part of the education evolution.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 32:24
If you are finding yourself thinking, I need to do this in my school. Let’s talk about it. I consult and also have a book TEDx talk an online course to support starting learner driven schools and programs. My goal is to help schools and individuals find new innovative solutions to reaching every student. Let’s create an action plan together. Visit educationevolution.org/consult to book a call and let’s get started. Education evolution listeners, you are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen, heard, valued and thriving. We need you. Let’s go out and reach every student today. I’d be so grateful if you’d head over to your podcast app to give a great rating and review if you found this episode valuable. Don’t wait. Please do it right now before you forget. I really appreciate it. Thank you listeners signing off. This is Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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