There was a student I had at King, a private school in Stamford, who was a prodigy-like genius. He had read more books than me, and I was an English teacher. He’d written full-length sci-fi books. He was the type of kid who could participate in a discussion without having read the book. He was just that clever. Yet, he was getting a D in the class, and that was from a kind participation grade that propped him up. He didn’t submit assignments on time, sometimes not even at all. His essays were so late, by months, they got Fs for lateness alone. They shows flashes of brilliance but seemed incomplete.
Seeing him struggle, I connected him with an executive function coach to help him keep deadlines, complete assignments and stay on top of his work. The coach taught him about prioritizing tasks and how to make a schedule, but he was still struggling to stay on track. Through a combination of executive skill-building and mentoring and instruction, he began to meet deadlines, deadlines even for the small checkpoints along the way with an English essay (thesis, topic sentences, outline, etc). He seemed more focused in class after working on self-regulation. His confidence grew. He no longer his in the shaggy head of hair that hung over his face. He participated more frequently in discussions. In short, the shift was obvious and his grade escalated as a result. Through his incredible efforts in working with the coach, he ended up with a B in the course, which was a small miracle given how much in the tank he had been previously.
Executive Function Coaching: An Introduction
Executive function coaching is a process aimed at helping individuals develop and improve their cognitive skills related to planning, organizing, initiating, and completing tasks. These skills, collectively known as executive functions, play a crucial role in achieving goals, making decisions, and navigating daily life activities. Executive function coaching involves working one-on-one with a coach who assesses the individual’s strengths and weaknesses in these areas and provides guidance, strategies, and support to enhance their abilities. The goal of executive function coaching is to empower individuals to take control of their thoughts, behavior, and habits to achieve success in both personal and professional life.
Poor task initiation can cause significant problems for students, as it can lead to procrastination, missed deadlines, and a general feeling of disorganization. When students struggle with task initiation, they may struggle to get started on assignments and projects, and may find it difficult to manage their time and prioritize tasks effectively. This can result in lower grades, missed opportunities, and decreased confidence and motivation. Furthermore, poor task initiation can also contribute to stress, anxiety, and burnout, as students may feel overwhelmed by the demands of school and struggle to keep up with their workload.
Coaching task initiation for high school students involves helping them understand and get started with a particular task or project. This can include setting goals, breaking down the task into smaller steps, providing resources, and offering support and guidance as needed. The coach should work with the students to identify their strengths and weaknesses and help them develop a plan to overcome any challenges they may face. By focusing on the process and encouraging self-reflection and self-evaluation, the coach can help the students gain confidence and become more self-sufficient in their work. Effective coaching task initiation can have a positive impact on the students’ overall academic and personal growth, and help them develop essential skills for success in the future.
Poor planning can cause major problems for students in high school, as it can lead to missed deadlines, decreased academic performance, and an inability to manage their time and responsibilities effectively. When students lack planning skills, they may struggle to prioritize tasks and allocate their time effectively, resulting in last-minute cramming and rushing to complete assignments. This can result in lower grades, increased stress, and decreased confidence and motivation. Additionally, poor planning skills can also impact a student’s ability to balance the demands of school with extracurricular activities and responsibilities outside of school, leading to burnout and decreased well-being.
Coaching planning strategies for students should focus on setting clear goals, creating action plans, and helping students take steps to achieve their objectives. Some effective strategies include conducting regular check-ins to monitor progress, using visualization and positive self-talk to build confidence and motivation, and teaching effective time-management and study skills. Additionally, coaches can help students identify and address any obstacles or challenges that may be hindering their progress, and provide them with tools and strategies for overcoming these obstacles. Furthermore, coaching can involve promoting healthy habits such as exercise and good nutrition, and helping students develop a growth mindset and the ability to bounce back from setbacks. By employing these strategies, coaches can help students take control of their own lives and achieve their academic, personal, and professional goals.
Poor organization can cause significant problems for students, as it can lead to decreased academic performance, missed deadlines, and a general feeling of disarray and overwhelm. When students lack organizational skills, they may struggle to keep track of their materials, assignments, and responsibilities, resulting in lost papers and forgotten tasks. This can result in lower grades, decreased confidence and motivation, and increased stress and anxiety. Additionally, poor organizational skills can also impact a student’s ability to effectively study and prepare for exams, leading to decreased academic performance and difficulties in retaining information.
Coaching organizational strategies for students should focus on helping them develop the skills and tools needed to effectively manage their time, materials, and responsibilities. Some effective strategies include teaching effective note-taking and study skills, using task lists and calendars to prioritize tasks, and promoting healthy habits such as regular exercise and good nutrition. Additionally, coaches can help students identify and address any underlying factors that may be affecting their organizational skills, such as stress or anxiety, and provide them with effective coping strategies. Furthermore, coaching can involve teaching students to declutter and simplify their physical and virtual spaces, and promoting the use of tools such as flashcards and visual aids to aid in retention and recall of information. By employing these strategies, coaches can help students develop the organizational skills needed to succeed in school and in life.
Poor self-advocacy skills can greatly impact a student’s success, as it can limit their ability to communicate their needs, ask for help, and navigate the complexities of the educational system. When students lack self-advocacy skills, they may struggle to express their opinions, ask for clarification, or request accommodations for learning differences. This can result in missed opportunities, decreased academic performance, and decreased confidence and motivation. Additionally, poor self-advocacy skills can also limit a student’s ability to access support and resources, such as tutoring or counseling, which can be critical to their success.
Coaching strategies for improving self-advocacy skills involve helping students understand their own needs and desires and effectively communicate them to others. This can include teaching students how to articulate their opinions and make informed decisions. The coach should encourage students to set goals and develop a plan to achieve them, while also helping them identify and address any obstacles that may arise. Role-playing and simulation exercises can be used to help students practice and develop their self-advocacy skills in a safe and supportive environment. Additionally, the coach should help students understand the value of self-reflection and encourage them to regularly assess their progress and make adjustments as needed. By empowering students to advocate for themselves and their needs, the coach can help them develop the confidence and skills necessary to succeed in academic and personal settings.
Poor motivation can lead to negative results for students, as it can result in decreased effort, reduced engagement, and a lack of drive and determination. When students lack motivation, they may struggle to find the energy and focus to put forth their best effort in their studies and may lack the determination to complete projects and assignments to the best of their abilities. This can result in lower grades, decreased confidence, and reduced opportunities for future success. Furthermore, poor motivation can also contribute to stress, anxiety, and burnout, as students may struggle to keep up with the demands of school and feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities.
Coaching strategies aimed at improving self-management skills should focus on helping individuals develop their ability to set goals, prioritize tasks, manage their time and emotions, and make decisions effectively. Some effective strategies include setting achievable and realistic goals, creating action plans and breaking down large tasks into smaller steps, teaching stress-management techniques, and promoting self-reflection and self-awareness. Additionally, coaching can involve teaching effective communication skills and problem-solving strategies, helping individuals identify their strengths and weaknesses, and encouraging them to seek out new opportunities for growth and development. By employing these strategies, coaches can empower individuals to take control of their own lives and make meaningful progress towards their personal and professional goals.
Low attention span can have significant impacts on a student’s performance in school, as it can limit their ability to focus, retain information, and complete tasks effectively. When students struggle with maintaining focus and attention, they may find it difficult to stay engaged in class, follow instructions, and complete assignments to the best of their abilities. This can result in lower grades, decreased confidence, and reduced opportunities for future success. Additionally, low attention span can also contribute to stress, anxiety, and burnout, as students may struggle to keep up with the demands of school and feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities.
Coaching strategies for improving attention skills should focus on helping individuals increase their focus, concentration, and ability to stay on task. Some effective strategies include teaching mindfulness and meditation techniques, promoting healthy sleep and exercise habits, and using tools such as task lists and calendars to prioritize tasks and manage time effectively. Additionally, coaches can encourage individuals to minimize distractions and create a conducive work environment, as well as helping them identify and address any underlying factors that may be affecting their attention, such as stress or lack of motivation. Furthermore, coaching can involve teaching effective study and time-management skills, promoting the use of visualization and positive self-talk, and helping individuals develop a growth mindset and the ability to stay motivated in the face of challenges. By employing these strategies, coaches can help individuals improve their attention skills and achieve their goals.
Executive function coaching can be a highly effective strategy for helping high school students develop the skills and strategies needed to succeed in school and beyond. By focusing on areas such as goal-setting, time-management, problem-solving, and self-regulation, coaches can empower students to take control of their own lives and make meaningful progress towards their academic and personal goals. Moreover, executive function coaching can help students develop the resilience and adaptability needed to overcome challenges, and lay the foundation for success in both the short and long term. However, it is important to note that coaching is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and that students and families should work together with coaches to determine the best approach for each individual. Ultimately, executive function coaching has the potential to play a significant role in helping high school students succeed, and should be considered as a valuable investment in their future.
Alliance Tutoring can provide personalized coaching to help students develop and improve their executive function skills, with the goal of improving their grades. Their experienced coaches can work with students to identify areas of difficulty and create a tailored plan to address those challenges. This might include teaching effective time-management and study skills, promoting healthy habits such as regular exercise and good nutrition, and helping students develop strategies for reducing stress and anxiety. Alliance Tutoring coaches can also provide support in other areas of life that impact academic success, such as organizational skills, goal-setting, and problem-solving. By providing a supportive and structured environment, our tutors can help students develop the executive function skills necessary for academic success and long-term achievement. See our executive function coaching page for more details.