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Executive Skills & Self-Directed Learners


Throughout the K-12 years, students can be encouraged to develop their metacognitive skills and teachers can play a critical role in enhancing executive skills acquisition and their potential use in a variety of situations. As students learn to reflect on what they are doing, they can develop skills in stepping back or taking a ‘time-out’ or pause. That pause provides a mental space that pulls them away from the immediate activity and invites them to describe and evaluate what is happening.


Teachers can use this strategy with individual students or full groups. The module will provide methods for coaching students to increase their attention span, pursue goal-directed activities, and plan and manage their time more effectively. Participants will explore ways to help students create organizational structures, develop emotional control, and increase their flexibility so they can become increasingly independent, goal-oriented, and self-directed learners.


Key Points

  • All of us improve our skills by reflecting on them, assessing what is working and what needs work, and adjusting our actions and behaviors ‘“ and then trying again.

  • The process of becoming more reflective is one that requires encouragement and patience, since students may not easily grasp the concept underlying metacognition, and they may balk at being self-critical.




Dr. Christine Mason, Suzan Mullane and Naomi Szekeres




1.5 – 3 hours


Suzan Mullane has over 20 years teaching experience, Pre-K-12. Ms. Mullane is an Adjunct Professor of Education at the University of Alaska in Anchorage, has been a school counselor and helped to develop and coordinate Anchorage’s STEM initiative. She is an expert in autism, gifted education and Special Education and has conducted numerous teacher workshops on those topics as well as at-risk youth, teacher mentoring, and STEM. In 2011 she received the North Star Service Recognition Award for her work with at-risk youth in Anchorage.

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