Landmark College is nationally recognized for its exemplary pedagogical practices and support for students with learning difficulties such as Dyslexia and other disabilities, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorders. In recent years, the two institutions have further partnered to establish a school-wide environment that fosters and facilitates optimal executive function in students, faculty, and administration.
Executive function (EF) challenge is one of the most common characteristics of students with LD and ADHD. Weakness in EF makes it difficult for students to plan, initiate action, sustain attention, monitor performance, solve problem in the moment, inhibit impulses, stick with a task to completion, and transition to a new task. New research on innovative pedagogies, theories of mindset change, and neuroscience suggest that there is a unique opportunity to help students improve their EF skills at the middle and high school age levels.
Greenwood School leadership has made a commitment to institutional improvement anchored in current research and methods for EF training for their faculty and staff. These past two years, Greenwood School has worked with Landmark College Institute for Research and Training (LCIRT) to bring professional development and training in EF to all staff and faculty at Greenwood.
The series of trainings had the following goals:
- To facilitate a school-wide paradigm shift from “we will do for the students and ensure they are successful through external supports” to “we will partner with students to help them develop personal strategies and internal resources to do for themselves.”
- To undertake structural, programmatic, and curricular changes to create an environment at Greenwood that fosters optimal executive functioning in students, faculty, and administration.
- To develop in advisors and program directors a new skillset, based in executive function coaching, for working with students who struggle with executive function.
The trainings have been enthusiastically embraced by Greenwood administration, faculty, and families. Some of the outcomes of this certification for Greenwood School include:
- Engagement in an ongoing review of academic and residential policies and structures, examined through the lens of executive function.
- School-wide program development, structural changes, and policy changes to better support the development of students’ executive function skills.
- Participation by all faculty members in two whole-school executive function training workshops, resulting in the use of a common language to discuss executive function issues collegially and with students.
- Participation by all school administrators and advisors in a year-long guided practice training program to develop a skillset based in executive function coaching. The skillset includes:
- Asking questions to facilitate student engagement and responsibility around executive function challenges
- Collaborative goal setting
- Developing positive accountability
- Inspiring motivation
Based on pre and post assessment, Greenwood faculty express strong confidence in their ability to meet students’ executive function needs.