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May 22, 2024 Meeting Minutes - Executive Functioning Scaffolding

PALS Meeting Minutes

May 22, 2024 9:30 a.m.

Virtual Meeting using Zoom

Open Forum

Open Forum is an opportunity for participants to come together and discuss a variety of topics, offer resources, and ask questions related to special education.

What to do with Executive Functioning Scaffolding

Executive Function(ing) is a skill set we all use to achieve goals, by managing our time, self-monitoring, making plans, exerting self-control, remembering things, being flexible, focusing, and controlling impulses.

We often talk about the needs for learning goals and supports with Executive Functioning (EF), June 2023, October 2017, October 2014. Today we asked the question, how and when to remove the scaffolding that is used in the learning process. Everything we read addresses teaching EF skills, supporting EF skill learning, writing EF IEP goals, but rarely do we read anthing about removing the scafollding that supports these things. While researching we found that in some cases you don't, the scaffolding stays right where it is. Below, we have compiled a long list of results from the simple question, "When to remove scafollding from Executive Functioning learning?" We have included links and quotes from each. If you have also asked this question and have found different answers and would like to share those here, please e-mail us at

"I also see we want to can be too keen to want take the scaffolding down as soon as possible because we think the child or adult should do it ( what ever the skill is e.g. dressing, riding a bike) without it... BUT this is where we go wrong!

What I have learned is that we do things at very different rates and some of us need more scaffolding in some areas of our life than others. We sometimes take the scaffolding down because we use 'neuronormative' thinking and expectations."

"Neurodiverse students’ executive functioning skills are an often-overlooked area of need during individualized education program (IEP) development. When we design accommodations and modifications, and engage in secondary transition planning, it’s often related to supporting students’ executive functioning skills to access the instruction. Special education teachers especially must not overlook conversations about students’ skills in this area at IEP meetings, particularly when developing postsecondary transition goals."

"Executive function and self-regulation skills depend on three types of brain function: working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control. These functions are highly interrelated, and the successful application of executive function skills requires them to operate in coordination with each other." Additional articles available.

"During adolescence, executive function skills are not yet at adult levels, but the demands placed on these skills often are." * This comes from the article: Activities Guide: Enhancing and Practicing Executive Function Skills with Children from Infancy to Adolescence

"This guide for practitioners who work with adolescents explains the science behind the core life skills that youth need, what affects the development of these skills, and how practitioners can help."

"Your teen is forging his own identity and fighting to stand on his own two feet. But he’s not quite there… yet. Negotiate a balance of support and independence by working with your teen to put in place structures for success. Fostering your teen’s progress at school means sharpening his or her executive functions and creating interventions based on compassion, collaboration, and consistency." * This article is based on a webinar. Link available at the end of the article.

"The current study introduces a novel observational approach for rating teachers' displays of EF-related behaviors and scaffolding of students' EF skills during their everyday classroom routines, practices, and interactions with students in elementary school. We found that the T-DASEF protocol can yield reliable observational measures of teachers' EF-related difficulties and scaffolding practices in a naturalistic classroom setting."

"Educators share their top tips for developing stronger executive function skills and independence in students with ADHD and learning differences. Example: I provide solid building blocks and frameworks, and then gradually reduce my active management as I hand responsibility over to the learner."

"The UDL framework typically involves efforts to expand executive capacity in two ways: 1) by scaffolding lower level skills so that they require less executive processing; and 2) by scaffolding higher level executive skills and strategies so that they are more effective and developed. This guideline addresses ways to provide scaffolding for executive functions themselves." *In-depth look: Provide Options for Executive Functions

"Extensive research indicates that proficient organizational and EF skills are foundational for achieving positive outcomes in academic, occupational, and social-emotional realms of life. To get from concerned to empowered, we need to learn how to meet our kids where they are and grow them up from there. Knowing when to step back versus when to scaffold is crucial, and the more thoroughly we understand the specific skills of working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control, the more nuanced and sophisticated we can be in our approach."

"The process of creating and using the wrist list allowed Jon to achieve that all-important self-regulation: He no longer had to rely on his mother’s reminders and prompting to complete his chores. According to Barkley, both the internalized and externalized forms of behavior achieve self-regulation “and so are ‘executive’ in nature”

"The quest for adolescent independence pushes many teens (especially boys with ADHD) away from school achievement – and the parents who push it. Read the three main motivation problems tend to impede teens’ academic achievement."

"It’s far better for parents to step back, offer assistance in non-intrusive ways, and foster their child’s inner drive to achieve without threatening his burgeoning independence or masculinity. To do this, use the three Cs:"

"ADHD and Executive Function Disorder (EFD) are tightly linked, but far from synonymous. They both make it exceedingly difficult to complete tasks and stay organized, but EFD impacts nearly all goal-directed behavior. How to tell the difference — and get it under control."

"To improve any executive function, practice is critical. EFs need to be continually challenged — not just used — to see improvements. (That goes for both children and adults.)  However, EF training and practice alone will not achieve the best results. EFs blossom most when we lessen things that impair them (like stress or sadness) and enhance the things that support them (like joy or feelings of belonging)."

"Executive Function can be learned and strengthened. Alexis Reed of the Boston Child Study Center gave us some tips for scaffolding EF skills as learners gain mastery of these important skills."

"At key developmental stages, we can provide opportunities and experiences that allow students to develop connections within their brains in a safe, supportive environment. As students learn to employ executive functioning skills, they can work toward independently applying these skills when faced with similar experiences."

"In this interview, Monica Adler Werner talks about the importance of flexibility, introduces the steps of the Unstuck approach, and talks about how busy teachers can make Unstuck a part of their day to day classroom routine. Goal, Why, Plan, Do, Check (GWPDC) is central to the Unstuck intervention and is the system, or formula, that we can all use to solve problems. After a plan has been executed, students reflect on whether the plan worked"

"Identifying possible challenging with executive functioning skills can make the difference between success and struggle for a student. Work can always be done to help kids and young adults strengthen their executive functioning skills."

"Strategies for enhancing executive function include targeted interventions, incorporating mental exercises, and considering the role of health and lifestyle factors."

"Measurable IEP goals that target executive functioning skills are instrumental in supporting students with a wide range of learning needs. By incorporating these goals into individualized education plans, educators can provide targeted interventions that can support students in developing essential cognitive processes that promote academic success and independence."

"By setting clear, measurable goals, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) targets specific areas needing support. It's about finding strategies that work for the student, allowing them to thrive both in and out of the classroom. Goals might address improving concentration on tasks, managing schoolwork, participating in class, or handling emotional responses. It’s not just about academic grades but helping students with ADHD navigate their school day effectively, making learning a more accessible and enjoyable experience."

"As a special education advocate, I see a lot of executive functioning deficits. And I have now read hundreds of IEPs and 504 plans. I see many accommodations for executive functioning, but not a lot of teaching. What the students need is explicit, real time, instruction and feedback. Teaching executive functioning skills is not limited to school or therapy sessions. Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in supporting and reinforcing these skills at home."

"In this article, we summarize our perspective of how transfer of executive function trainings to academic goals might be achieved."


Next Meeting: June 26, 2024 9:30 a.m. Virtual Meeting using Zoom.

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